Flower Vase Rock in Xiao Liu Qiu, Taiwan
Flower Vase Rock in Xiao Liu Qiu

Xiao Liu Qiu (pronounced “shau-lee-oh-cho”, sometimes shortened to XLQ) is a pretty little island off the southwest coast of Taiwan. My husband and I spent a few days there during our recent spring break, and I think it just might be my new favorite place in Taiwan (which is saying a lot in a country so full of natural and cultural beauty)!

passion fruit flower growing wild by the beach in Xiao Liu Qiu, Taiwan
passion fruit flower growing wild by the beach in Xiao Liu Qiu

XLQ is famous for its beaches and snorkeling, and with good reason. We discovered a new (to us) beach this time, called Secret Beach – small but perfect! The reef comes right up to the shore on both sides, with an open space in the middle that’s perfect for swimming. I’ve snorkeled plenty of times before, and it’s hard to beat the beaches and reefs of Kenya and rural Indonesia. But XLQ comes closer than most other places I’ve been! Among other unfamiliar underwater sights, I met one skinny fish that was all nose and pointy tail, swimming head-down like a pencil standing on its tip and sharpened at both ends (it turned out to be a razorfish). A couple of smaller fish looked as though they were wearing puffy fairy dresses. Beautiful creatures just hanging out, giving glory to their creator simply by existing. (More about beautiful underwater creatures further down.)

Further down in this post, you’ll see a picture of Secret Beach from a nearby hill. We drove our rented scooters most of the way up to see a lighthouse and a famous tree (the “Old Banyan Tree”, featured in this short video), and then hiked a short way from the tree to the viewpoint.

Renting scooters was another really fun part of the vacation. We love driving around on the quiet little island roads where there’s almost no traffic most of the time, enjoying gorgeous coastal views and the salt breeze. I think we (well, I – the two of us split up a few times to do different things) must have made at least eight circuits of the island during the four days we were there, not to mention lots of shorter rides.

Another thing we love about XLQ are the bings! A bing is a well-known dessert in Taiwan. In its most basic form, it’s constructed of shaved ice with a topping of fruit or beans. Yes, you read that correctly! Beans (especially red beans and mung beans) quite often show up in desserts here, though never in savory dishes. Starbucks even offers a red bean Frappuccino. Sweetened beans are an acquired taste, and let’s just say that after almost fifteen years in Taiwan, I have yet to acquire it (and not for lack of trying!).

Floyd and Annie Enjoying Mango and Chocolate Bings

But I digress! Mango bings are the polar opposite of bean bings in their incredible out-of-this-world deliciousness, but they are only available in the summer, when mangoes are in season. The mango season was just starting in Taichung, where we live, but since XLQ is further south and thus warmer, the season was well underway when we arrived for our vacation. And that meant that all the many bing shops on the island were doing great business with their various versions of this nectar of heaven! (Seriously, I’m pretty sure mango bings feature prominently in the dessert section of heaven’s menus.)

Another Delicious Mango Bing

The fun thing about mango bings is that every bing shop makes them differently. Sometimes the shaved ice is just ice (kind of like a snow cone), but other times it’s made from frozen milk or mango juice or sweetened condensed milk, or a combination. And the mango topping is always a little different in terms of how it’s sweetened and/or what kind of sauce/syrup the mango pieces come in. Some bing shops add a scoop of ice cream, sprinkles, boba, bits of chopped candies, and/or other toppings/mix-ins to their bings. Buying a mango bing from somewhere new is always a fun discovery! And since XLQ specializes in them, and since we hadn’t had any in almost a year, and since the weather was warm while we were there … well, I’m not ashamed to admit that five mango bings found their way to me in the four days we were there! (And I’ve been going through mango bing withdrawals ever since we got back!)

Yet Another Delicious Mango Bing!

This time we discovered a new secret of XLQ that we didn’t know about on our last visit. One night some friends took us to a quiet little cove accessible only through a narrow gap in rocky walls in an out-of-the-way area by a marina where we would never have thought to explore on our own. When we waded in, our feet stirred up tiny bioluminescent creatures that drifted around like specks of light in the shallow water. In the darkness, it was like watching underwater fireflies flicker about, appearing and disappearing around our ankles. The more we walked around, the more sparkles spangled around us. It felt as though we had stepped into some magical world where the water was full of enchantment! (Yes, I’m a fantasy author. Why?)

But none of the beautiful sights on XLQ could compare with what we saw while snorkeling. Speaking of magical worlds! Sadly, my attempts to take pictures under the waves met with dismal failure. We had brought a waterproof case for Floyd’s phone (his is older than mine, so we were less nervous about taking it in the ocean). However, I found that what with the lighting and the additional layer of plastic, I could barely see the screen under the water. Several times, I pointed it at beautiful things and pressed where the button should have been, but nothing really turned out. I must have accidentally bumped other buttons, because at one point I saw enough to realize I was no longer in the camera app, but I couldn’t figure out where I was or how to get back there. (Floyd’s phone is pretty different than mine!) I even got out of the water a few times to try to deal with it, but to no avail. All we ended up with after several gorgeous snorkeling experiences was a few extremely unclear pictures that could just as easily have featured UFOs or the Loch Ness Monster, plus an unintended video of my leg. Yeah.

Secret Beach
Secret Beach

But here’s what it’s like:

You’re floundering out in the breakers under the barren sky, struggling because you can’t really swim while your hands are occupied with putting on your snorkel and mask properly, gulping salt water and trying not to panic as the waves tumble you around. Then you finally get everything in place and your face under the water, and the world instantly transforms.

You’ve been transported to a magical fairy kingdom of color and movement, where the only sounds are the faint, constant crackling of crabs in the coral. The waves ease you gently up and down; no more thrashing and crashing. You don’t even have to swim, though now it’s easy, if you want to. You just lie on the surface, face-down, while amazing creatures go wandering by about their business below. You float over the towers and turrets of coral castles, where narrow, probing tentacles protrude from crannies and spines bristle out of crevices. Tendrils wave from the windows as brightly-colored fish flit in and out, weaving around bastions and battlements.

Iridescent blue specks float over everything, glinting like daylight stars in the watery sky. A cloud of thousands of tiny fish billows about you, darting and jerking, always moving in exactly the same direction as though controlled by a single mind. Big turtles, blundering but graceful, soar around, sunlight dappling their shells as they tug up mouthfuls of the algae growing on the coral. They drift back and forth, and you drift back and forth, and all the little plants growing in the coral weave their fronds back and forth, everything drifting in sync to the waves.

turtle in Xiao Liu Qiu
Turtle in Xiao Liu Qiu (picture courtesy of Michael Joubert)

Way down below everything, you spot glimpses of the sandy ocean floor between pillars and protrusions of multicolored coral, some pieces sitting in solid chunks, some waving like graceful foliage in an undersea breeze. And you wonder how many millions upon millions of fantastic creatures, delicate and grotesque, live out the minuscule dramas of their lives, unseen, in the pores of the rainbow-hued reef all around you.

You twist your neck to look up and see the surface like a shimmering ceiling of undulating glass above you. But when the tip of your snorkel dips into the waves and your mouth and lungs fill with saltwater, you discover you twisted too far. You panic and stick your head up into the cold air, coughing and choking and spitting. And you realize you can’t touch the bottom, and you’re kicking and struggling as you yank off your snorkel and mask, which has somehow also managed to fill up, and dump about half the ocean out. Waves crash menacingly over your head and throw you around as you struggle to tread water and not inhale the other half of the ocean while wrestling with your mask and snorkel, and you think, Yikes, what am I doing way out here? You have no idea how the shore managed to swim that far away or how you’re ever going to make it back, surrounded on almost every side as you are by this endless heaving circle of blue under the endless upturned blue bowl of the sky.

And then you finally get your gear in place and your head under the water again, and the splashing and crashing turns off as though you flipped a switch. The waves are your friends again, drifting you gently up and down. You hear only the peaceful crackling of the crabs in the coral as the underwater kingdom surrounds you once more, its multi-hued denizens still going about their daily lives in their fantasy world. And a turtle glides by, soaring gracefully from one clump of coral to the next with its wing-like flippers, browsing from the buffet God has set out for it.

And you remember exactly why you’re here.

Secret Beach, Xiao Liu Qiu
Secret Beach as seen from just above the Old Banyan Tree

A Young Adult Romance Novel by Krysten Lindsay Hager

She’s the girl next door and he’s rich, popular, and from a famous political family. Brendon’s the guy in high school everyone wants to date, and sparks fly when the two are paired together in class.

Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture-perfect ex seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already uneasy due to the fact her last boyfriend dumped her and her whole world is off-kilter with her grandmother’s health issues and her grandfather’s memory loss. Life suddenly seems easier pushing Brendon away and relying on horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and grief and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

A YA book with romance, a message of self-love and acceptance, and a sweet sense of family.

Includes new epilogue!

Purchase:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09Y2RFRM7

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dating-Guy-Krysten-Lindsay-Hager-ebook/dp/B09Y2RFRM7

Why I write by Krysten:

I write novels about friendships, crushes, hope, love, dealing with self-doubt, and appreciating what makes you unique.

​My books have always been about helping ​readers feel less alone in what they’re dealing with and giving hope, comfort, and a happily ever after.

The world always makes us feel like we have to conform to fit in and who we are isn’t enough and my goal is to make my readers feel that what makes you different is what makes you special. I wasted too many years of my life trying to be who the world told me I should be and I want to stop others from having to go through that.

I write the books I wanted to read growing up. I write for the girl in her room who has had a difficult time with friends and frenemies and not knowing whom to trust and may not be comfortable with who she is yet.

Find Krysten here:

Website: https://www.krystenlindsay.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/krystenlindsay/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Uprooted Book 1 Four Stars over Ardatz: Sovereigns

Author’s name: Kandi J Wyatt

Title of book and/or series: Uprooted Book 1 Four Stars over Ardatz: Sovereigns

Brief summary of the story: Far from home, an 18-year-old servant caught between castle intrigue and kingdom infighting must decide where his loyalties lie or lose those closest to him.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story: The world was a normal planet, until the smallest of three moons drifted from its orbit and a part of the moon slammed into the northern hemisphere, knocking the planet off its axis. Now the northern-most side of the planet is in constant darkness and the southern half is in constant sun with only a very narrow strip of just-right climate where plants can grow. There’s a youtube video that tells the legend of the four stars.

If we were to visit Ardatz as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there? There are several regions to Ardatz. If you go to the darklands, visit Skymna. You’ll want to be sure to visit the capital, Huvudstadan, then go north to Stad. It’s just a small village, but if you visit the first lunar cycle of the synod (twelve lunar cycles), you’ll catch the Festival of Stars, an event that is a highlight and celebrates the two moons as well as the stars that light our way in the absence of Handi and Tsiki.

If you can handle the ball of fire in the sky known as Graen, you’ll enjoy a visit to the brightlands. Muintir has a stable government and provides most of the produce for both the brightlands and the darklands. The best place to visit is Cahar, its capital city, and if you get a chance to visit the castle, do so. It’s open during the Queen’s Feast during the Worker’s Festival.

What dangers should we avoid in Ardatz? There are several dangers. Dragons are known to roam the extreme areas of Ardatz, and everyone knows how nice they are! The tales say dragons would rather eat you than let you live in peace.

Besides that, the farther south you travel, Graen itself becomes a danger. Its rays kill all plant life and will burn any skin that’s exposed. I’ve heard of people who live in Aeguskey. They cover their faces to protect themselves from Graen. There are even tales of merchants on the Inferno Trail. I’d not go there, but then again, I grew up under Handi and Tsiki’s light and Graen is too bright for me.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Ardatz? Again, it depends on where you’re at. Tsiki’s Choice, the inn where I’m a stable hand, serves a hearty stew, and Malene, the innkeeper, has an excellent ale. As for Muintir, I’d love to taste a good apple—one that’s not mushy or tough when I bite into it.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Ardatz? Up until I was sold to a warrior, I wouldn’t have known much about fighting except what I’ve heard in stories. But recently, I’ve discovered that Muintir uses leather armor and fights well on horses. Skymnian soldiers wear chain mail and are excellent against archers. The Skymnian army is the reason we’ve known the peace we have for many synods. Aeguskian warriors are excellent horsemen and mounted archers. They can take out a regiment of soldiers without any problem, much to my mentor’s despair.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Ardatz? We travel by horseback and wagons. I’ve been told the ancients used other travel means, but I have no idea how they would have worked.

As for animals, there are cows, sheep, goats, pucklings. Oh, yeah, you might not have heard of the wooly ducks. They look like a llama on a duck body. Their wool is prized by royalty. As for predators, there are fox, wolves, hawks, owls, you name it.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Ardatz that we don’t see on Earth? I met my first jiddee’adar on my trip to Muintir. He seemed ordinary enough, but then I saw him in action! A jiddee’adar can manipulate the natural order of things using either earth, air, water, fire, or plants. They usually find a creature that’s at home in that element that works with them. Their power is portrayed in a glow that emits along their wrists and temples. It’s either white, brownish, blue, green, or red depending on the focus of their magic.

I mentioned dragons. They’re known to come in many different colors. Blues control storms, while whites use the cold around them as a weapon. Both of these are found in the far reaches of the darklands. Browns and oranges are known to roam in Aeguskey’s hot deserts, and greens can be found in any region, although I’ve never met a dragon. Muintir and the other habitable brightlands countries have known dragon kings in their histories. These are men who have bonded with silver dragons.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Ardatz?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used. Jeeah gave us the jiddee’adar to help transition after the impact. Their ability to manipulate the elements protected the people of Ardatz. But with all power comes those who’d twist it. Those who sought to use the power wrongly or who weren’t naturally gifted became sanyalee. They use stones imbued with power as focus points or other powerful items.

The more I’m around jiddee’adar, I realize they have great power. They can cast bolts of magic, call up fire, or even control plants or the wind. Jiddee’adar mold their element to their needs and to the people’s needs around them.

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Ardatz?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples. Before the Impact, I’ve heard there were wonderous items once. There’s a story of a young man in the darklands going out to prove himself by staying out in the elements. He stumbled upon a stash of the ancients. No one really knows what they were used for, though.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Ardatz. There are the regular games that kids play with balls and such. Cahar’s Queen’s Feast showcases the Rittider, the king’s elite body guards, as they dual with swords.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Ardatz as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there? At one point in time, before the Impact, time was measured by Graen’s movements, but after the Impact, time now revolves around the moons—predominantly Handi since it can be seen both in the darklands and the brightlands. What used to be called days are now moonsteps. Seven moonsteps are a phase, and four phases are a lunar cycle. There are twelve lunar cycles in a turn or rotation (darklands’ term) or synod.

As for holidays and special events. The Festival of Stars is once a turn at the beginning of the synod when neither Handi nor Tsiki grace the sky. The citizens go to the center of the village and send up lanterns into the sky. Leading up to it, there are songs and everyone gives gifts during that time.

I’ve already mentioned the Workers’ Festival earlier.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Ardatz?  Please describe what it involves. Some people worship Jeeah. I’d never really heard about him until I traveled to Muintir. He’s the one they believe is the creator. As far as I can tell, they pray to Jeeah and read works that are said to be from Him or His followers. His followers tend to be kind and loving people.

What is the political or government structure in Ardatz?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she? Ardatz has three large regions—Eelarga in the dark north, Atsegena—the just right area—and Aeguesky. Then those regions are divided into individual countries. Most are ruled by kings and queens. Twilli has an emperor. Before that, there were tribal-ruled areas. In Skymna, Orvar Melkar is the king. His dynasty has ruled as long as histories exist of Skymna. Muintir is a relatively new country, and King Athair and Queen Kaylynn rule. Their daughter Siobhan is a beauty, but also a fireball. Don’t tell her I said that. I’m in enough trouble with her as it is.

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Ardatz? Not really. I did learn when visiting Ovar Melkar, you need an appointment and must never look up at him.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book? Skymna is from Sweden while Muintir is based on the Irish language and loosely on Ireland itself. The royal home of the kings of Muintir is from Castle Balleynahinch. My family heritage is from both Sweden and Ireland. One of my ancestors was Swedish, and he saved the king’s life during battle. As a reward, he got to marry the princess!

Author Autobiography:

Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt, had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that’s her own five or the hundreds of students she’s been lucky to teach. When Kandi’s not spinning words to create stories, she’s using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  Please include links.

Uprooted, Book 1 Four Stars over Ardatz: Sovereigns is available in all formats—paperback, ebook, and hardback. You can watch the trailer on youtube.

Where can readers connect with you online?  I’m available on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Bookbub, Goodreads, youtube, pinterest with a dedicated board for Four Stars over Ardatz Sovereigns, and my website. You can also sign up for my newsletter and receive book 2 of my Dragon Courage series for free. (Book 1 is permanently free).

author Kandi J Wyatt

I don’t know about you, but I get a little excited when a new writing guide comes along. Today I get to spill the news that The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles (Vol. 1) has hit the shelves.

This guide is about that killer ingredient our stories need: Conflict. It shows you exactly how to use conflict to raise tension, create a fresh story premise, and pull readers in. The guide also dives into over 100 conflict scenarios and how each can be endlessly adapted to challenge a character inside and out. Problems, Moral Dilemmas, Ticking Clocks, Obstacles, No-Win Scenarios…this book is plot brainstorming in overdrive!

I’m part of Angela & Becca’s Street Team for this release, and we have an important question to ask you:

Can You Survive Danger as Well as Your Favorite Protagonist?

Sure, it’s easy for you to use conflict to torture your characters and make them struggle, but what if it’s you in the hot seat instead? Will you make good decisions, or bad ones?

It’s time to find out by taking the Conflict Challenge! I dare you to become the protagonist in a special story Angela & Becca have created. And heads up, if you survive, you win some pretty cool stuff!

GIVEAWAY ALERT

While you’re at Writers Helping Writers taking the Conflict Challenge, make sure to enter The Conflict Thesaurus celebratory giveaway, too. But hurry – it’s only on for a few days.

So, take the challenge…if you dare. And don’t forget to come back and let me know how you did against Camp Deadwood!

Hide it In Your Heart
Hide it In Your Heart with Thankfulness: a Scripture Coloring Book with Journal Prompts for Adults and Kids
Hide it In Your Heart with Thankfulness
Hide it In Your Heart with Thankfulness: the Front Cover

I’m excited to announce that my latest book is now available for purchase! Since it’s thankfulness-themed, it would make a great Thanksgiving gift for your guests or hostess, or a meaningful pre-Thanksgiving way to get your heart focused on gratitude leading up to the holiday. Read on to find out more!

Featuring inspirational verses from the Bible, these coloring pages will help you relax, unwind, and enjoy some creative fun while hiding God’s Word in your heart! All the passages have a theme of thankfulness, so you’ll be encouraged to cultivate gratitude and be reminded of all you have to thank God for as you color.

The verses are printed in colorable word art with decorative borders, blank on the back to make them easier to remove and frame or display, if desired. Each coloring page is accompanied by thought-provoking journal questions that will help you dig into the Scriptures even more as you focus on their meaning and application in your life.

Hide it in Your Heart with Thankfulness is an ideal Scripture memorization aid for Christian schools, homeschool programs, Sunday schools, or your own personal use. Children and adults will enjoy learning, practicing, and meditating on these artistically presented verses from the New International Version Bible. Order your copy today and start hiding God’s Word in your heart with thankfulness!

Find the book at your own local Amazon store at the links below!

Hide it In Your Heart with Thankfulness back cover
Hide it In Your Heart with Thankfulness: the Back Cover

Amazon U.S.: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HFTQHX8

Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09HFTQHX8 

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09HFTQHX8 

Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B09HFTQHX8 

Amazon France: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B09HFTQHX8

Amazon Spain: https://www.amazon.es/dp/B09HFTQHX8 

Amazon Italy: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B09HFTQHX8 

Amazon Japan: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B09HFTQHX8 

Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09HFTQHX8 

Examples of Some Coloring and Journal Pages from Inside the Book
 

A Note from the Author:

Witches Tales came to be because of six little girls with very interesting fears or challenges that I hoped to quench in a cute yet poignant way. Halloween presented the opportunity since they all love this holiday and were excited to be witches.

Since Spanish is my language, I decided to make my children’s books bilingual and enter that market.

In Witches Tales/Cuentos de Brujitas you will find:

A little witch who loves camping, reading her letters and colors. Therefore that tale has all of them included; in addition, you read it in a spooooooky voice.  

A detective witch who has to find all the things stolen from her family and friends, while learning a good lesson about respecting others property.

A witch that is afraid of too many things to be healthy.

Another that loves to dance and has to figure how to include others in her performance. 

The witch that doesn’t like to do chores and finds a way of doing them with a bit of magic as three new friends come to help.

The last witch shows us that when we get scared, we may put ourselves in danger by staying alone. And that we can solve problems together, and being safe is a better way.

Now, you have all these tales in one colorful book: Witches Tales/Cuentos de Brujitas by A. C. Dye

Click here to purchase your copy.

A.C. Dye

Author Biography

A. C. Dye is a pen name of the award-winning young adult author Anna del C. Dye. As Anna del C., she has published over twenty books, mostly young adult fantasy and medieval romance, all in English.

Her children’s books, written as A. C. Dye, are all bilingual. She is fluent in English and Spanish.

She lives in Taylorsville, Utah, U.S.A., but is originally from Chile, S.A.

You may connect with her and her works at https://www.annadelc.com 

True freedom happens only when you choose to be free.

Eleven-year-old Drake Bailey is an analytical thinker and the genius of the Timekeeper crew. However, no logic or mathematical acumen can change the color of his skin, or prepare him for this third Timekeeper mission in antebellum Georgia. To survive, Drake must learn to play the role of a plantation slave and when confronted with the brutality, hatred, and racism of the deep south, he’ll have to strategically keep one move ahead of his sadistic captors to ensure his lineage continues.

In a dark world of Voodoo, zombies, and ritualistic sacrifice, the Timekeepers must ensure a royal bloodline survives. Can Drake remove both literal and figurative chains to save both himself and a devout slave girl from a terrible fate? If he can’t summon the necessary courage, humanity could stand to lose one of its greatest leaders.

Excerpt:

Drake read over their Timekeeper mission again. Blood. Deep south. Race. Broken. Soul. Red flags waved through his mind like a category five hurricane. He’d seen one too many movies and documentaries to know 1855 was not a great time in history for people with his skin color. Drake shut the Timekeepers’ log, and shook his head vehemently. “There’s no way in hell I’m gonna go on this mission, Lilith!”

Lilith wrinkled her long, narrow nose. “I understand why you have these fearful feelings, Drake, but I do not choose where you go into the past. Belial is the one who holds that power, and seeks to disrupt history whenever he sees a chance.”

“May I see the Timekeepers’ log, Drake?” the Prof asked. 

“Sure, Prof, but I’m still not going,” Drake replied, passing the log over.

“Can he do that?” Ravi asked, glancing at Treena.

“I don’t think so. It’s like signing a contract for a movie. You’re committed to finishing the film or you face the studio lawyers. Case closed, gavel down.”

“Lilith isn’t a judge.” Ravi looked at Lilith. “Right?”

“No, Ravi, I am not your judge, but what Treena said rings true. You were all chosen as Timekeepers for a reason, and are bound by this covenant,” Lilith replied, unclasping her hands. “That is all I can offer you.”

“Fine. I’ll just remove my Babel necklace,” Drake said, digging under his shirt. “Problem solved.”

“Drake, why are you freaking out like this?” Jordan asked, helping Amanda to her feet. “It can’t be as bad as fighting the Nazis in our second mission.”

“Yeah, or being interrogated in the Gestapo Headquarters by Belial’s creepy crony Marcus Crowley,” Ravi added.

“Why don’t you ask Amanda why she puked? It wasn’t because she had warm and fuzzy feelings about this mission,” Drake argued.

Melody wiped Amanda’s chin. “Do you feel well enough to speak?”

“I…I think so.”

Professor Lucas whistled. “Now I see why Amanda was sick to her stomach. Using the words deep south and the date as a clue, this mission puts us in the antebellum era, six years before the American Civil War began. This period was filled with so much hate, racism, turmoil, and political upheaval, I’m willing to bet these emotions went right through her.”

“If Uncle John is right, why would Belial want to change anything back then?” Jordan asked, frowning. “That slithering douche-bag lives for human suffering during those dark times in history.”

“Exactly.” Drake removed his Babel necklace. “So why tempt fate?”

“N-no, Drake, you have to come.” Amanda reached for his hand, and squeezed it. “Trust me, you’re an important part of this mission.”

“Huh? How?”

“It’s hard to explain. I just know you have to be there.”

The book is available at the following links:

AMAZON.COM: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Timekeepers-Noble-Slave-ebook/dp/B09CZ1CQNX/

AMAZON.CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Last-Timekeepers-Noble-Slave-ebook/dp/B09CZ1CQNX/

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING: 

Paperback: https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/products/the-last-timekeepers-and-the-noble-slave-paperback

Ebook: https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/products/the-last-timekeepers-and-the-noble-slave-ebook

KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-last-timekeepers-and-the-noble-slave

BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-last-timekeepers-and-the-noble-slave-sharon-ledwith/1140033348?ean=9781987976823

APPLE BOOKS: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/the-last-timekeepers-and-the-noble-slave/id1581757739

About the Author:

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the award-winning teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her spoiled hubby, and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM, and GOODREADS.

Did you miss any of the earlier posts in this series? Find them here:

As I sit here in my mostly-packed-up room on my final evening of quarantine, my main emotion is thankfulness. I’m thankful to be getting out of here tomorrow, yes, but also thankful for so many blessings God gave me in this place. I love my wonderful city and sunset view up here on the 22nd floor, and the amazingly comfortable bed (it’s actually comfier than my bed at home!). I’m thankful that the room came with a desk and chair so I could easily use my laptop, and that the air conditioning works GREAT (I’m going to miss running the AC 24/7 at no extra cost!), and that there’s a fan and a mini-fridge, and enough cupboard/drawer space to put all my stuff away so I didn’t have to spend two weeks with it all over the place (those who know me well know how much that would have driven me crazy!). I’m thankful for the little luxuries I was able to bring or request from my apartment or that people sent as gifts: Dance Dance Revolution that’s been so perfect for exercise in a small space, an HDMI cable that’s let me use the hotel TV as an extra monitor, fresh fruit and fun snacks, coloring supplies, extra changes of clothes so I didn’t have to do (much) laundry in the sink, a coffee mug so I didn’t have to try to drink coffee out of tiny paper cups, even a baggie of salt to liven up the daily hard-boiled egg. I’m deeply grateful for the internet and the opportunities it brings to keep in touch with friends and family through email, Facebook, and video calls. And most of all, I’m thankful for all the ways in which God has shown me that I’m not alone. He’s been here with me in this little room all along, never abandoning me, constantly pouring out his love and grace and kindness and blessings upon blessings on me. THANK YOU, LORD. That’s all I can say. Thank you. I’m so grateful for the many gifts I’ve received from him and others these past two weeks. Thank you.

Breakfast: hard-boiled egg, slices of ham, greens, hash-brown patties, and a rice/pork/mushroom mixture wrapped in the banana-leaf packet.
Lunch: some kind of deep-fried, breaded patty on rice (I didn’t try it, so not sure, but I assume it was pork), soft squash, spinach, and stewed beef with broccoli, carrots, and turnips. I’m not sure what was in the center section, except that it was spongy and juicy and may have been a relative of tofu. I believe the drink is jasmine tea.
Dinner: chicken curry with onions and potatoes over rice. And of course greens, and a slab of breaded deep-fried something-or-other that I didn’t eat. (Seriously, TONS of breaded deep-fried something-or-others have gone to waste in my hotel room in the last two weeks! But at least they didn’t go to MY waist!)

And that’s it, ladies and gentlemen. This is my final night of quarantine. My luggage is mostly packed, my alarm is set for 5:00 a.m., and we check out at 6:00 tomorrow. In less than twelve hours, I’ll be home!

Over and OUT!

Did you miss any of the earlier posts in this series? Find them here:

Today I will give you a tour of my suite here at the HiOne Gallery Hotel! I bet you didn’t know it had so many rooms and facilities!

I hope you enjoyed the tour! In all seriousness, I’ve been pretty happy with my quarantine accommodations. Obviously, I’d rather be at home, but if you’ve got to be shut in a room somewhere else, this is a pretty comfortable room to be in. I have a lot to be thankful for.

Anyway, on to today’s meals.

Breakfast: it was a nice surprise to have dim sum for the first time here, not to mention the spring rolls, fried egg, and ham. Yum!
Lunch: fried noodles with bits of pork, topped by greens and a slab of breaded deep-fried pork. And more asparagus juice! That makes four cartons of it so far. I need to find someone who can stand the stuff to give it away to once I’m free. I’m certainly not going to drink it!
Dinner: pork with onions over rice, greens (bet you’re shocked!), tofu on green onions, a chicken leg on bamboo shoots, and … I have no idea whether the brown stuff at the top right is animal, vegetable, or mineral. Okay, probably not mineral, I guess. It was soft and slightly savory, slightly sweet, and slightly spicy. Turnips in the soup.

I’ll close with this picture from earlier today, when it was rainy and foggy. As much as I’m looking forward to going home the day after tomorrow, I have to say, I will definitely miss the view from my 22nd-story window!

City in the Mist

See the final post in the series here (once it’s live):

Did you miss any of the earlier posts in this series? Find them here:

My fun activity for the day was decorating my eggs. Yep, with hard-boiled eggs showing up in almost every breakfast, I haven’t always been able to bring myself to eat them. These two had been living in the fridge for a while and needed a new purpose in life. I don’t claim to be particularly artistic, but I enjoyed turning them into art. Now if only I had somewhere to display them!

The next big event that happened today was the field trip! We’d been told the taxi would arrive at 10:00 this morning to take Floyd and me to get our PCR tests. At 11:30, right after lunch was delivered, someone from the front desk finally called my room to say the taxi was there. I stuck my uneaten lunch in the fridge, put on my shoes, picked up my purse, put on my mask and face shield, remembered at the last minute to grab the key card to my room, and stepped out into the hallway. Wow, what a weird feeling. I found my way down the hall to the elevator and made it down to the lobby after just one mixup where I temporarily got out on the wrong floor when someone else got in (you forget how these transportation devices work when your only transportation device for twelve days has been your feet in a pretty small area). There were about four people manning the front desk, which seemed weird in a hotel where no one goes in or out except after twelve days, and then again after fourteen days. They had me leave my key card with them and pointed me to the taxi waiting just outside. And there was Floyd! I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see him in person again!

The taxi took us to a little hospital about 5 minutes’ drive away, where we had to wait outside the front door. Then a pink-clad nurse came out and filled out paperwork, asked us medical questions, took our blood pressure, and checked the oxygen levels in our blood (all outside the hospital door). She took our passports and health insurance cards inside, along with our payment (150 NT each; about 5 U.S. dollars). I got a kick out of the fact that she sprayed our money, passports, and cards down with disinfectant before she took them.Then we got directed to a tent set up in the parking lot where the scary man you see below was waiting to do scary things to us from the other side of a window. I will spare you the details except to say that it was more painful and lasted longer than the PCR test we had to take before we could fly to California at the beginning of the summer, and this time they stabbed us in BOTH nostrils.

Then we stepped back into the waiting taxi, which brought us back to the hotel. I wished he would drive more slowly or take a detour. We would gladly have paid for a VERY LONG detour, if the driver been willing to spend the afternoon driving around the city! Alas, no, he was under strict orders to bring us right back to our hotel. It was really hard to say goodbye to Floyd as we trudged back to our separate rooms. Harder than when we parted ways at the beginning of quarantine. Stepping back into my empty room alone was more difficult than I had expected, too. My quarantine experience really hasn’t been all that bad, especially compared to some people’s. But leaving Floyd behind and shutting the door behind myself hurt. At least I only have two and a half days to go!

Here are today’s meals:

Breakfast, hard-boiled egg, steamed bun with pork inside (tasty!), two sausagey sort of things (probably purposely designed to be completely taste-free), garlicky bok choi, and fruit and veggie juice.

Lunch was mostly cold by the time I ate it, since the field trip taxi arrived just as I was about to dig in. I did manage to scarf down a few bites of the scrambled eggs with tomatoes (bottom right) while they were still warm; they were delicious! Later I enjoyed the greens and pieces of stir-fried pork with some of the soft squash from the middle, along with some rice. Didn’t eat the deep-fried, breaded pork slab. It isn’t worth the calories even when it’s hot, let alone cold. And the barley drink is never worth it either, in my opinion.
Dinner: ham strips on rice; sour bamboo shoots; the usual greens; a stewed mixture of pork, carrots, broccoli, and turnips; and green beans. I believe the soup had bits of soft turnip in it.

See later posts in the series here (once they’re live):