First Crush by Ashley Elizabeth Ludwig

Posted by on Jun 23, 2017 | 8 comments

First Crush by Ashley Elizabeth Ludwig

First Crush is a delightful taste of romance and suspense set in Southern California wine country. I know you will love meeting author, Ashley Elizabeth Ludwig, hearing about her background, passions, and love for family and writing. Enter to win a signed print copy of her book. See the link for a free Kindle copy at the end of the interview! Sign in on the Rafflecopter for more opportunities to win!


Fabulous Fridays

First Crush

Welcome, Ashley! When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I, like many authors I know, have always written. I’m never more comfortable than when I am expressing myself through the written word. 

Introduce us briefly to the main characters in First Crush tell us how much of yourself do you write into your characters.

Natalie Turner is an adopted daughter, one of three siblings in the Turner family. She grew up in San Diego, and has grown into a budding hotelier at the jewel of San Diego hotel chain. On the verge of a promotion and professional triumph, she learns that her biological grandmother is near death, and has left her vital information as well as power of attorney over her personal estate. Dropping everything to learn about a woman she never knew, and a family she never cared to learn anything about, she discovers that hospitality runs in her biological family’s blood. With a run-down bed and breakfast to care for, and her grandmother’s story largely under wraps, Natalie dives in to learn about her own history.

Nick Hardaway, learning of his friend and counselor’s impending death, has left his position as vineyard manager for a prominent winery in Napa. Against his family’s better judgement, Nick returns home to support the man who drew him out of depression, anger and a bent for gambling following his sister’s murder, years ago. He is the second son of a southern California family, and grew up on a vineyard learning about the land from his own father. He meets Natalie at the hospice center, and is instantly taken by her beauty, her strength and subtle wit. Learning that her biological family is neighbor to his parents’ property, he becomes overwhelmed with the need to help her with the hotel, and the vineyards that are still growing on her property.

Two lives, torn apart by fate, returned to one another by seeming coincidence, the hand of God in their lives becomes impossible to ignore. Only together can they solve the mystery of Natalie’s birth family and heal the wounds left on Nick’s heart. With love, faith and courage the truth will set them both free.

As far as putting myself in my characters? Perhaps I used to, but I don’t really anymore. Natalie is her own person. She might be an image of my daughter, also adopted, as a grown woman. Even still, she is totally unique into herself, built with my “Creating 3-Dimensional Characters” study. She has her own birthday, her own likes and dislikes of food, her way she drinks her coffee…. She has memories of childhood, hopes and dreams that only she knows…. And personal drama and heartache that shaped her world.

I can go deeper into POV (point of view) knowing everything but I can also let her grow by exploring her life by asking these pointed questions in that worksheet.

First Crush meme

Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?

I am blessed to write full time, though my day job is as a journalist/editor for a major online news corporation. My fiction writing is my passion, and often in my suspense, true crime is the inspiration for my stories.

To protect my writing time for fiction, I block off at least 15 minutes a day toward writing or editing a current project. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in 15 minutes.

If you could spend the day with a character from your all-time favorite novel, who would it be and what would you do?

If I could spend a day with a character from my all-time favorite novel?? Wow. Great question. My most read and reread story is The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof.

If I could spend a day with Charlie and Ella, listening to Charlie’s stories, hearing him discuss his life, their romance and redeeming love, maybe even spend some time hanging out with the lions…there is nowhere else I would want to be. This is the most romantic book I’ve ever read. If you haven’t picked it up, I suggest you go and get it immediately.

Why did you choose the particular theme in First Crush? What were you trying to say to your readers?

First Crush is a study in Nature Vs. Nurture. As I am an adoptive mother, I am continually interested in my own children’s biological histories. Raising them from birth to ages  11 and 13-years-old now, I believe that their home and parenting is so much more powerful than the DNA in their blood, but we cannot ignore that the biological is a part of all of us as well.

Natalie is faced with a brutal reality of her DNA, and how she handles the discovery ultimately is the support, love and foundation given to her by her adoptive family. An extreme look at a very real part of our lives.

This is just the first of three stories which will all explore the same thread of Nature Vs. Nurture. I am learning, as an adoptive mom, that ultimately parenting is parenting. It doesn’t matter how you got to this point, your children are who they are, and as a mother, I am the mother God made me. My daughters are my daughters, whether born of my body or of my heart.

What events in your personal life have most impacted your writing, and how?

I am a Christian author because that is the way I write. My faith is a part of me, and that is not a bucket that I can set aside to write “erotic fiction” or the gritty side of true crime. I write books that I would want my children to read as they grow up. I have been told that my stories are “romantic” … and that is probably the best compliment I could ever get. If I could share both the beauty of Agape love… the love of God, the father, as well as the romantic side of earthly love? And the importance of romance before marriage–and after? Those are the stories I want to tell.

How did you weave a spiritual thread through First Crush without being preachy?

It’s funny. Depending on who you ask (ie: the Christian reader vs. the non-Christian reader) — my stories are either preachy or not. You can read that in reviews. It always amazes me that a reader would buy a book from the Christian Fiction list and be surprised that faith is part of the story.

The faith thread is just another plot layer in the overall tapestry of story.

My characters talk about God in conversation as it develops organically. We never pause the story to give the salvation message. It just evolves, hopefully, as my characters evolve.

Each one came to faith in their own way, and ultimately they learn about that as they learn about each other, fall in love with one another, as happens in real life.

Their decisions in past, present, and future all depend on their faith or lack of it. 

Please share a favorite scene from First Crush with us.

Ah, you may as well ask me which of my daughters I love more. If I must distill it into a favorite, I must say the first three chapters have received the most of my attention. Those pages hopefully hook my readers to wanting to read the entire book… and hopefully, review it when they’re done.

My favorite scene from First Crush is when Natalie and Nick first meet, and then have their first coincidental meeting in a hotel lobby just hours later.

I love how Nick views her as just a woman across a crowded room, then realizes that it’s Natalie!

My grandmother used to tell me that coincidence was just God showing up. So, as author, I love helping those coincidences along as well as seeing what they do about it…

Read that in the first 30 pages on your Kindle free download!

Book Blurb:

Learning of her inheritance—a vintage European home in sleepy southern California wine country—is a dream for adopted daughter Natalie Turner. The search to learn more about her birth family drives Natalie to renovate the dilapidated chateau into a stylish bed-and-breakfast complete with wine tastings amongst beautiful vineyards.

But danger awaits her around every corner of the aged home and every lush row of grapes. For twenty-five years a serial killer has left a trail of bodies in his wake. Now the Lakeview Slayer has his sights set on Natalie.

Nick Hardaway never recovered from his sister’s murder—a victim of the Slayer. When news of the killer’s latest murder breaks, Nick grows more determined to make amends for his sister’s death, and joins Natalie in her renovations of the chateau. Natalie may hold the key to capturing the Lakeview Slayer before he kills again, but first the pair must decide if their newfound love is worth dying for.

About the author:

Ashley Ludwig - authorAshley Ludwig is an Arizona native, though she has been transplanted to her new home in Southern California wine country.

After receiving her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona with a degree in Anthropology and a minor in History, Ashley worked for several years as an Archaeologist across the American southwest. A consummate researcher, Ashley is an editor and columnist for news in Southern California, in Orange County and San Gabriel Valley.

She has turned her passion for research and attention to historical detail to her true love, writing romantic suspense in both contemporary and historical fiction.

She currently resides just a stone’s throw from SoCal wine country with her husband, their two daughters, and a plethora of pets.

Connect with Ashley:


Amazon Author Page:

Facebook Author:

Pinterest – First Crush:

Pinterest – main:


Book Link:


Other books by Ashley:

Writing Three-Dimensional Characters:

His & Hers:

Mammoth Secrets:

All or Nothing:

First Crush cover

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you for having me Norma what a wonderful way to spend the weekend in Southern California wine country. This morning the birds are singing it’s going to be a warm and lovely day perfect to sit poolside and do a little reading!

    • You’re so welcome! Sounds like a great day!

  2. Thanks for introducing me to a new book and author.

    • HI, Janet! Thank you for coming by! I hope you enjoy the story… thrilled to meet you.

  3. This looks very very interesting…!!!! I usually like books in the 1800’s but this one might change my mind!

    • Hi, Judy!
      I love period books, as well… I am working with my agent on a story set in 1876, Arizona… Historical novels are a delight to read and to write… I hope First Crush might have something to strike your fancy… Blessings to you…

  4. I would love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway. ????

  5. Enjoyed the interview. A good suspense story always intrigues me.

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