On our way to visit friends in Hualien, Floyd and I stopped by a place I’ve been wanting to see for years: Yehliu.
We saw most of the sights featured above on our little self-guided tour of the geopark peninsula.
 Famous for its interesting rock formations, Yehliu is a major tourist attraction in Taiwan.

The results of erosion in this area are fascinating!

In fact, the rocks at Yehliu are considered one of Taiwan’s “Eight Scenic Wonders”.

It was a Saturday, and the area was swarming with tourists.

Undeterred by the incessant drizzle, we strolled the wood-paved paths of the geopark along with everyone else.

We probably would have gotten some better pictures if the sky had been blue and I hadn’t had to be so careful to shield the camera under my umbrella, but it was beautiful there.
We had fun hiking around the little peninsula and taking pictures of the view.

I wonder if this was caused by erosion or an earthquake?

Many of the rocks had names.  Here Floyd is posing by the Dragon Head.

There were lots of these sand dollars embedded in the rock underfoot.  It wasn’t as slippery as it looked.

This rock is called “Pineapple Bun”.  I think “Tortoise Shell” might be more fitting!

We stood in this line for about fifteen minutes.  What was everybody lining up for?  To take pictures of the most famous rock in Taiwan: the Queen’s Head.
From the right angle, this rock is supposed to resemble the head of a queen.  I always thought it was supposed to be Nefertiti, but I just looked it up and two different websites said Queen Elizabeth. Hmm.  In any case, her Majesty was interesting to see, but I don’t think she quite lived up to all the hype.  And she sure looks a lot smaller in real life than in the postcards!  (As you can see, the weather did terrible things to my hair.  I guess being a stone woman has its advantages.)

Afterwards, we looked around for somewhere to eat a late lunch.  There was a whole row of little restaurants, but while we were pondering our options, a lady came out of one of them and practically dragged us in.  “English menu, English menu.”  That decided us!

Don’t like seafood? You’re outta luck here!


Taiwan is truly a tea lover’s paradise. There are tea shops on practically every corner, and I would estimate there are between twenty and thirty of them within walking distance of our home.  Each one is a little different: though they carry many of the same beverages, each tea shop mixes the ingredients according to their own recipes, and many offer specialties not easily to be found elsewhere.

There are several tea shops I frequent more than others, for various reasons.  (Perhaps I’ll feature some of them in a future blog post.)  But my current favorite is called Georg Peck.

Besides various types of green, milk, and black tea, they offer fancy coffees and fruit smoothies.  However, I have to confess that I’m really not a fan of some of the drinks I’ve tried there.  The other day I had their pearl milk tea and didn’t much care for the flavor.  Their ji cha (kumquat green tea) is okay, but I realized later that they just make it with citron tea (a marmalade-like goop) stirred into warm water (or maybe into green tea?)  Not bad, but I can do the same thing at home cheaper.  I also don’t recommend their sesame milk tea (pictured below).  I thought the flavor sounded interesting, but it turns out it’s made from crushed black sesame seeds stirred into milk tea, and it settles to the bottom in a sludgy layer unless you constantly stir it (much like the ji cha in that regard, actually).

 However, I do like Georg Peck’s smoothies, even though the smoothie category on the menu is rather scarily called “Mouthfeel Slush” (yes, there’s an English menu posted on the wall) The mango smoothie is my favorite so far.  They’re very refreshing on a hot day, and much healthier than many smoothies you’d buy in the States, since they’re made with crushed ice and not ice cream.  (Georg Peck does offer ice cream in some of their teas, float-style, though I have yet to try those. As we get closer to summer I’m sure I will.)

I also like their hazelnut milk tea and caramel milk tea (yum!).  The passion fruit green tea is okay… nothing to write home about.  I haven’t tried many of their coffee drinks yet, but the iced caramel macchiato is, in my opinion (and granted I’m not a coffee connoisseur) just as good as Starbucks’, at less than half the price.  Ooh, and the warm ginger milk tea is to die for on a cold afternoon!

But you’re probably wondering what the big deal is.  Aren’t there tea shops that carry more drinks I like and fewer that I dislike?  

Maybe.  But my favorite thing about Georg Peck isn’t the drinks.

A couple of months ago I started taking my laptop to Starbucks to work on my next book away from the distractions of home.  But after I had used up my gift card, I decided I was too cheap to keep paying Starbucks prices, and it didn‘t seem right to sit there and write without buying anything.  So I looked for other options and discovered a new tea shop in the neighborhood that had a couple of little tables and chairs out front (an uncommon sight around here; most tea shops are just designed for customers to walk up, order their teas at the counter, and leave).  

I got someone to teach me how to say, “Is it okay if I sit at this table and work on my computer?” in Chinese, and successfully recited my line to the shop owner (who I later found out speaks excellent English).  She assured me it was fine, and ever since then I’ve parked myself in front of Georg Peck for three or four hours straight at least once a week, spending quality time with my characters in Alasia and Malorn. 

I’ve gotten to know the tea shop employees, who are always happy to see me.  Most of them are at least conversational in English, and sometimes we chat a little.  I found out that their names are Lydia (the boss; at the front in the picture below), Ingrid, Penny, Nina, and House.  Yes, House.

 One of the first times I was there, the weather turned cold, and I was wearing short sleeves.  Lydia walked out to where I was shivering at my little table and handed me her own jacket!  I gratefully put it on, and it helped me last another hour or two.  When I was finally ready to leave, I tried to hand it back, but she told me to wear it home and just “bring it back next time”.

When I returned the jacket the next day, I brought her a tiny jar of my homemade jam to thank her.  Later, as I was typing away and sipping the tea I had bought, Lydia came out to bring me a free donut!  (I don’t think they actually sell donuts there, so I’m not sure where it came from.)  A couple of times the ladies have given me a second tea for free after I’ve finished my first one.  Last week I brought them a plate of homemade gluten-free chocolate cake (I was trying out a new recipe and figured they might like it since it contained beans, a very common ingredient in Taiwanese desserts).  They reciprocated by giving me a bag of candy on my next visit!  I guess it’s my turn to bring them something next time.  Hmm, I’ll have to think what.

 So, that’s why I like Georg Peck.  Not for the drinks as much as for the people.  It’s fun going somewhere where people know me and are glad to see me, and I love that we actually know each other’s names now.  In spite of the distractions inherent in working on a public sidewalk, I find that I can still concentrate on my writing better there than at home.  

Have you ever been to Georg Peck?  I found out it’s an international chain, but for you Morrisonians, the closest one is just past the afternoon market, right next door to what I call the Black Spot (also known as Tea Shop) and catty corner from QQ’s.  If you’ve been there, I’d love to hear in the comments what your favorite drink is.  If you haven’t yet, you should try it! 

This week I had the opportunity to read and review an eBook by author Staci Stallings, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting on a Christian Writers’ forum on Facebook.  Her book Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy is a resource I was excited to get my hands on, and now I’m eager to start implementing her advice.  Below her picture and brief biography is the review I wrote for the book on Amazon (I gave it four stars).
A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.
My Review:
Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy is a great little book for writers, especially (but not only) new indie writers who are looking for ways to actually make money on the books they’ve worked so hard to publish.  The chapters are short and easy to get through quickly, but they’re packed with useful information, much of which you could sit down and apply right away.
As I read, I kept highlighting details that I want to be able to refer back to and make sure I’m doing right.  It wasn’t so much that the information consisted of totally new concepts (although some of it was new to me).  Much of it is common sense, at least in retrospect.  It was more just that everything Stallings said clicked into place in a way that made me understand what I probably should have known all along.  I kept thinking, “Yes – that’s me!  She’s describing my mistakes exactly!”  🙂  And thanks to her, now I know how to start fixing them.
Stallings not only explains what to do, she hands out many of the tools necessary to do it.  For example, one useful feature in the book is a list of dozens of sites where authors can get their books reviewed online (which I can hardly wait to start looking into)!  That alone would probably make it worth the purchase price. 
“If content is king, then skills are queen,” Stallings says.  I feel like the royal couple is now ready to at least begin their joint reign in my writing and marketing!
I didn’t give the book five stars because I did find a few typos, and now and then I thought things could have been phrased/presented a little more clearly (hey, I’m a teacher, I can’t help but notice these things!).  Occasionally the author sounded uncertain about her own information, saying things like, “I believe there is a way to…”  In the section about packaging your content, I would have liked a bit more info about specific sites and what to do with them.  For example, it mentioned “alternative sites like Squidoo and Redditt” and “YouTube, etc.” but didn’t really say how writers can make use of them.  I know this book is intended as a brief overview of book marketing and can’t talk about everything, but I would have liked just a little more.
Overall, Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy is well written and a very useful resource.  I love that it not only gives information and advice but also directs readers to helpful sites and other resources.  I whole-heartedly recommend this book as a worthwhile investment for writers.