Author: Amanda R

What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On

So the main reason I have not been blogging lately is because I have been focusing on my creative writing. So what am I working on?

The Emperor’s Seal: A Touching Time Novel

This novel is already complete. I am basically just waiting on a cover. This is the start to a new series. It is a time travel historical romance. I’m still tweaking the blurb, but here is basically what it is about:

Peking, 1902

The Emperor’s Seal – the divine symbol of the Emperor on earth – is missing. The Empress will do whatever it takes to get it back. 

Jiayi has a gift – she can travel through time just by touching historical artifacts. More than anything, she wants to escape the clutches of the Empress and run away to a foreign land. Finding the Emperor’s Seal could be her only chance at freedom, but is she willing to risk the wrath of the Empress? 

Historian and wannabe archaeologist Zhihao has no love for the Empress or the Qing Dynasty, but when the Empress orders him to find the Emperor’s Seal in exchange for funding China’s first history museum, he cannot refuse. It is only after he accepts the assignment that he finds out the key to finding the seal lies in the hands of a palace slave. 

Murder in the Forbidden City – A Qing Dynasty Mystery

This novel is also complete and the start of a new series. My poor cover artist is under a lot of pressure right now, haha. I am in love with historical mysteries, but I couldn’t find any that were set in China or that had a Chinese heroine, so I wrote one.

Peking, 1870

When one of the Empress’s ladies-in-waiting is killed in the Forbidden City, she orders Inspector Gong to find the killer. Unfortunately, as a man, he is forbidden from entering the Inner Court! How is he supposed to solve a murder when he cannot visit the scene of the crime or talk to the women in the victim’s life? He won’t be able to solve this crime alone. 

The widowed Lady Li is devastated when she finds out about the murder of her sister-in-law, who was serving as the Empress’s lady-in-waiting. She is determined to discover who killed her, even if it means assisting the rude and obnoxious Inspector Gong. 

Together, will Lady Li and Inspector Gong be able to solve the crime before he – or she – strikes again?

The Bound-Foot Warrior Trilogy

This will be my first foray into YA fantasy, so I am working with a developmental editor. The books are still in the planning phase, but I am hoping to have at least the first book done by the end of the year. It is inspired by classic wuxia novels. While wuxia novels are really hard to find in English, if you like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you will like this series.

Like most young women her age, Xiaoyu has bound feet. But that doesn’t keep her from dreaming of being a great hero like those she has read about.

When her family is slaughtered and her home burned, Xiaoyu sets out on a quest to avenge her family and test the limits of what a young woman can accomplish when she has nothing to lose.

As the bearer of the Azure Sword of the Dragon, Xiaoyu has the fate of the empire in her hands. She can either overthrow the Emperor or protect him. Which will she choose?

 

Of course, like most writers, I have tons of ideas running through my head all the time and have so many folders on my computer with little snippets of ideas running around, but these are my priorities and what you will see published this year. I’m so so so so excited and hope you love them. Which one are you most looking forward to?

Two Americans in China Named iCompareFX Best Expat Blog for China 2017

Two Americans in China Named iCompareFX Best Expat Blog for China 2017

Well here was an unexpected honor. Two Americans in China was named the best expat blog for China 2017 by iCompareFX. I have no affiliation with this company and cannot vouch for it, but it seems interesting. Their mission is “to help businesses and individuals save money on fees by navigating the remittance provider options available within their country or region. Only the best are reviewed and compared. No matter where you are in the world, there are alternatives to transferring through the big banks.” Feel free to check out their website to learn more.

What Do You Want To Know?

What Do You Want To Know?

Hi everyone,

I’m trying to get back into blogging here regularly, but it has been a little difficult. Part of the reason why is because I’m not sure what to write about! I know that sounds really terrible coming from a supposed “writer,” but writing creatively is a lot different from writing about real life.

Part of the problem is that I now work from home, so I don’t get out much. My life is pretty boring, at least to me.

But I know many people want to know more about what life in China is like. So what questions about life in China do you have? What would you like me to write about? Let me know in the comments!

Guest Post – Why We Quit Our Jobs to Go to China by Liz Wilson

Guest Post – Why We Quit Our Jobs to Go to China by Liz Wilson

For many, the idea of giving up a great job with a stable income, a home and a comfortable lifestyle to roam the world and live out of a backpack seems crazy.  But for us, the “American Dream” just wasn’t cutting it.  Sure we had good jobs and nice lives in Atlanta, but for what?  Being travelers at heart, we would count down until our next adventure overseas…only to dread returning.  Not because we hated our jobs (although, they weren’t our ultimate dream jobs) but because we wanted to keep it going.  There are so many places to explore, and we just didn’t want to waste time coming back home to work for a few months before jetting off again.  So one day while in Cambodia, we decided that we didn’t want it to end.

It’s Not Things That Matter…It’s Experiences

When we returned from Cambodia, we looked around our house at all the “things” we had acquired, and realized that wasn’t what made us happy in life.  It was our time abroad, making memories together and exploring – that’s what we needed in our lives (and each other, of course).  Together we started doing research, saving up money, and making a plan.  We gave ourselves a little over a year to prepare…then we sold it all and set out on the road and into the unknown.

The Opportunity to Teach English in China

I still remember the day we left Atlanta vividly.  We had an estate sale, and reduced our belongings from a 3 story townhouse down to a few Tupperware bins and a backpack.  The bins were stored with family, and we drove out of town with our backpacks for a cross-country trip.  After exploring the States and Hawaii for a little over a month, we ended up where most backpackers do…Thailand.

We had been to Thailand before, but this time it was different.  Technically, we were homeless and unemployed!  While we were running our blog, at the time it was fairly new and we weren’t earning any real income from it.  Instead, we bounced around Thailand exploring, pondering…and loving every moment of our new-found freedom.

After a while of watching the bank account balance go down rather than up, we figured it was time to consider making some money on the road.  In fact, this was always the plan.  We had done a lot of research prior to our trip and knew that teaching English abroad was one of the best ways to earn income as a traveler.  Josh had always wanted to be a teacher, and with a background in Business, I was quite interested to get some international experience and engage with business leaders abroad by teaching to English to adults as well.

Through our research, we had concluded that China was the place we wanted to go.  The market for native-English speaking teachers in China is enormous, and growing by the day.  We knew that there were plenty of opportunities for teaching jobs in China, and that China offered some of the best compensation for foreign English teachers.  

Making China Our Temporary Home

The speed at which it all happened is still pretty shocking.  Once we decided to find a job teaching English in China, we began doing some online research for positions.  We found a number of openings, contacted some schools, and connected with some recruiters.  In less than a couple weeks, we found ourselves signing a contract and boarding a plane to Guangzhou, China!

It was a little nerve-wracking when we stepped off the plane on that cold December night in Guangzhou.  Of course, we had heard of scams and all that — but we had a good feeling about the group of people we were working with. Sure enough, they were waiting to pick us up when we arrived…with a big smile on their faces!

Over the course of the next week, the same lovely group of people helped us get our new apartment and settle in.  They helped us get our bank account set up, SIM cards for our cell phones, showed us how to get metro cards and use the public transportation.  They even took us around town and showed us the supermarket and some of their favorite restaurants.

Immediately, we felt like we had family in Guangzhou.  And our jobs were awesome!  Right away, we felt at home in China — even though it was such a foreign place. From our neighborhood coffee shop, with the owner “MoMo” who would greet us each day, to “Chicken Guy” who ran a small restaurant just down the road from our apartment (he didn’t speak a word of English but was SO excited every time we came in – and always remembered what we liked to eat).  It wasn’t long before we knew that we could really enjoy ourselves in our little Chinese neighborhood!

Risks Can Make Life Worth Living

It’s true what they say, you don’t regret the things you do…but rather, the things you don’t do.  Many times in life we are hesitant to take risks, to do things that scare us or don’t seem like the “normal” thing to do.  However, we’ve come to realize that those are the risks that you should take!  

Teaching English in China has been one of the coolest experiences of our entire lives.  We had the chance to immerse ourselves in an ancient culture, much more so than we ever could have done on a vacation.  We made lifelong friends who treated us like family and taught us so many fascinating things about China.  

We also have enjoyed the chance to get to know our students — both adults and little kids.  This cultural exchange has been invaluable.  Plus, we had the satisfaction of knowing that we were able to help them with their goals of learning and practicing their English, which can help them in their future.

It’s been pretty amazing.  Not only have we had this great work and cultural experience, but we’ve been able to travel all over China.  It’s a massive country.  And a vacation for just a week or two just isn’t going to cut it for anyone.  As if that wasn’t enough, we were able to save a significant amount of money – more than enough to travel for quite some time.  

In the end, it’s hard to believe that we could have chickened-out and not taken this risk.  Because our lives will be forever changed because of it.  And as travelers, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Liz and Josh have been living and traveling around Asia since 2014.  Currently they split their time between the USA and China, working on their travel blog and assisting those who are interested in following in their footsteps via Career China.

Welcome to Spring

Welcome to Spring

Hello everyone,

gosh, yes, I know it has been so long since I posted, but I knew it would be harder to keep up with the blog after the baby came home.

But I have also been focusing on writing! I will have several new books coming out this year. Two are complete and are only waiting on editing and covers and others are still works in progress. But I am super excited to be launching several new book series this year! I hope you enjoy them. The best news is that you can even join my Street Team and have early and FREE access to my new books! All you have to do is agree to post a review in exchange. You can join my street team and find out more here.

And now the baby update, which I know is what you have been waiting for.

Our little girl is doing amazing. She is learning new things every day. Her favorite show is Daniel Tiger, which is really adorable. She recently had her third birthday, which we celebrated with some friends here in China. She went to see her first movie, which was Beauty and the Beast, my favorite Disney movie.

Here are some cute pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I promise I will blogging regularly again soon. Several people are waiting on book reviews from me and I even have some guest posts coming up. If you would like to submit a guest post, check out my submissions page.

Read the book that reviewers call

“Utterly Charming”

“Richly Woven”

“An absolutely amazing read from start to finish!”

Threads of Silk only $2.99 on Amazon!

Two Americans in China And Growing!

Two Americans in China And Growing!

We finally have our little girl home! She came home a week before Christmas, so we did the obligatory Christmas pictures.

People keep asking me how I feel, if I feel different somehow. Other than having issues balancing taking care of a kid and working from home, Seth and I don’t really feel different. I think we just waited and planned for this for so long, finally bringing her home was just natural – it was just right.

We are very happy to finally have our little girl home and we can’t wait to watch her – and our family – grow. We are still getting to know her, but she loves music and the color red!

If you want to know more adoption – especially expat adoption – feel free to ask questions in the comments section or email me. I’m more than happy to help other people grow their families through adoption.

I know that on the global stage, 2016 was terrible. But for us personally, 2016 was amazing. I had three books published, I started my own publishing company, I quit my “day job” and am able to work from home full-time, we traveled to Vietnam and Japan, and we topped it off by bringing our first baby home! 2017 will have a lot to live up to! I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Happy New Year!

Read the book that reviewers call

“Utterly Charming”

“Richly Woven”

“An absolutely amazing read from start to finish!”

Threads of Silk only $2.99 on Amazon!

Two Americans in China in Japan – Foodie Fun!

Two Americans in China in Japan – Foodie Fun!

As our last hurrah before the baby comes, we went to Japan for the National Day holiday. We went to the Kansai area – Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe. It was amazing. I’m going to have to break up the trip report into different posts because there is just so much to talk about. The first thing I want to share is the food!

Japan in a foodie paradise. Any kind of food you want, you can find here, and so much more! I thought that I would be eating sushi and sake every day, but 1) sushi is not popular in the Kansai area and was surprisingly hard to find, and 2) there is just so much more to eat than that. I wanted to try foods that are unique to Japan, so here are some of the highlights.

Kobe Beef

I’m not a big steak fan, but I’ve been told it’s because I’ve never had “a really good steak.” Well, I can now say I have had the best steak in the world. Many people claim to have eaten Kobe beef before, but Kobe beef is almost impossible to find outside of Japan, and even in Japan it is prohibitively expensive outside of Kobe. So since we were staying in Osaka, we hoped on the fast train and thirty minutes later we were in Kobe, Japan. We went to a restaurant called Steakland and, OMG, the steak was AMAZING.

It really was as delicious and tender as people have claimed. It is melt in your mouth good. If you are ever in Japan, take a trip to Kobe and try this beef of the Gods. Your mouth will thank you for it. There were also a lot of other good looking places to eat, but we were so stuffed with meat, we couldn’t eat anywhere else.

img_1457 img_1466

Fugu

I really wanted a T-shirt that said “I ate fugu and survived!” but couldn’t find one. My husband refused to eat the poisonous sea creature with me, but I was determined to try it.

Fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish and it is a specialty in Japan. The intestines, liver, and ovaries of a pufferfish contain a deadly toxin – one that is 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide. Specially trained fugu chefs undergo years of training to learn to cut the fish just right. Realistically, you are not going to die from eating fugu. The odds of you dying from fugu poisoning are lower than the odds of you dying from food poisoning in general. But the myth and the mystique of eating fugu persists, and I had to try it.

I opted for the raw fugu sashimi because I wanted the fugu flavor to be as pure as possible, but you can get fugu in almost any style, including inside dumplings or in hotpot. I went to a famous fugu restaurant in Osaka called Zuboraya. I thought the fugu was pretty good. It has a very light flavor and a bit of a rubbery texture. It was very good with the green onions and citrus wasabi they served with it. I would definitely eat it again.

img_1714

Whale Sushi

When I finally made it to a sushi restaurant, I was surprised to find whale meat on the menu. I had to try it. Whale meat is pretty easy to find at restaurants in Japan and is usually the meat of sperm whales. It is a dark, beefy kind of meat. I wouldn’t try it again though. I didn’t really like it.

img_1698

Ice Cream Parfaits

Japan is famous for these beautiful and delicious layered ice cream desserts. If you have spent time in China, you might be kind of leery to try them, but don’t be. Unlike Chinese ice cream, Japanese ice cream is delicious. The parfaits come in all different sizes and every flavor combination you can imagine. There are ice cream shops that just serve parfaits and have hundreds of examples on display. If you come across one of these shops, be sure to go in!

img_1394 img_1396

Fast Food

Of course, in order to save time and money, and for some creature comforts, we did check out a few fast food restaurants. I know some people scoff at eating at a McDonalds or Starbucks when traveling internationally (“you should try local food!”), but the fun thing about these restaurants is that they often have very localized foods that you can’t get anywhere else in the world, so we often pop in to at least look at the menus, even if we don’t eat there.

In China, it is very hard to find good donuts (we don’t have any donut shops in SZ or Hong Kong!), so we had to go to the Krispy Kreme in Osaka. They had some Halloween donuts that were cute and delicious. They had pumpkin pie at Starbucks. And we had chocolate pumpkin french fries at MacDonalds.

We actually spent most of our money in Japan on food. If you ever go to Japan, plan to eat EVERYTHING!

img_1436 img_1716 img_20161006_105821

 

Have you been to Japan? What were your favorite foods? Let me know in the comments.

We Found Her! Finally Getting Our Match

We Found Her! Finally Getting Our Match

We finally found our daughter! Anyone who knows us or follows this blog knows that our adoption journey has been a long and difficult one. But we are so happy to finally announce that we have found our daughter! Meet little Zofia!

Zofia-8-30-16-7As a blogger and now a mommy blogger, I am still wrestling with how much information to share about her. I am a pretty open person and I love talking about my life in China and the adoption process, but this isn’t only my story. Where does my story end and Zofia’s begin? I’m not sure, and I know I will make mistakes along the way, but hopefully I will be able to strike a balance between sharing just enough information to encourage others to adopt without divulging information that should be hers to share if and when she is ready.

For now, just know that this little girl is already loved and we can’t wait to bring her home!

If you ever have any questions about adopting from China, just ask! And I will do my best to help you. Especially if you are an expat interested in adopting. When we moved to China in 2010, there was no information about non-military families adopting while living abroad. Now, there are whole communities of expat adoptive families!

We still are not sure exactly when we will be home, but when she does, we will have a lot more pictures to share!

I know many of our friends and family members would like to know how they can support us during this time. Here are two main ways:

1 – Donate money directly. You can click on the button below to send funds to us directly through Paypal.

2 – Buy my books! You can buy my books – The Crazy Dumplings Cookbooks and Threads of Silk – from me directly through this site or you can buy them through Amazon (however, I (and the rest of my team) earn a lot more money per book if you buy from me). You can also buy a variety of dumpling related gifts here on the website. 

Of course, adding our little dumpling to our family means a lot of changes. I have already been blogging less because I have been working so much to raise money to pay the adoption fees and several publishing projects are being pushed back. Santa and the Christmas Dragon will be published in the fall of 2017 (with better, updated art!) and Crazy Dumplings III will be published in the spring of 2018.

Thank you so much for reading and being part of our adoption journey! This story is only beginning.

 

Two Americans in China in Vietnam

Two Americans in China in Vietnam

For Chinese New Year back in February, we went to Vietnam. I can’t believe how long it has taken me to post this (well, actually I can, it has been a crazy busy year!), but better late than never!

The Hong Kong Airport is surprisingly entertaining during CNY
The Hong Kong Airport is surprisingly entertaining during CNY

We have been traveling around Southeast Asia quite a bit recently since we live so close to the Hong Kong airport, which makes it very quick and cheap to travel around the region. Even though most Americans don’t typically think of Vietnam when pondering vacation choices, I had heard great things over the years about it from Australians and Europeans, so it had long been on my list as a place to check out. While there are many cities to visit in Vietnam, we decided to just go to Hanoi. It is a smaller city but it is only a couple of hours from Halong Bay.

Unfortunately, we went during Lunary New Year, which Vietnam also celebrates (they call it Tết). Similar to in China, the Vietnamese usually travel home for Tết, so most of the shops and restraunts were closed when we arrived! Oops! But thankfully they usually only take two or three days off, so the city wasn’t empty for long.

View of Halong Bay from one of the mountains we climbed in the bay.
View of Halong Bay from one of the mountains we climbed in the bay.

Since there was nothing to do in Hanoi, we booked a cruise at Halong Bay. That was wonderful! Halong Bay is beautiful and crusing is just so relaxing and carefree. I would be interested in going back to Halong Bay just to do a longer cruise. I would also be interested in going on other cruises in the future.

When we got back to Hanoi, things were starting to open up, so we caught a Water Puppet show. I have a weird facination with puppets (I blame Sound of Music) and I have a decent collection of antique (over 100 years old) and reproduction puppets from around the world. So of course I had to go see the dancing water puppets. We ended up going to two water puppet shows at two different theaters in Hanoi. The shows were very similar in story and structure, so if you are in Hanoi and you aren’t sure which theater to go to, I don’t think it matters.

A Queen Fairy and her attendants.
A Queen Fairy and her attendants.

Dating back to at least the 11th century, the Vietnamese would use flooded rice paddies as a stage for wooden water puppets to dance on. This folk tradition has evolved into today’s water puppet shows. The theaters today have waist-deep pools of water as a stage. There is a black screen that hides the puppeteers from the audience. The pools is flanked by musicians and singers. The puppets are made of wood and painted with laquer to protect them from the water. Sometimes the dragon puppets even spout fireworks!

The water puppets shows were some of the coolest things I have seen in my travels and I would definately reccomend them and watch them again (I also brought home three puppets for my collection!). I’m really surprised that I had never heard of water puppet theater before or seen some rendition of it in America. I guess you will have to go to Vietnam and see this awesome cultural performance art for yourself!

Do not buy any paintings in Vietnam. They are all from Dafen Art Village in Shenzhen.
Do not buy any paintings in Vietnam. They are all from Dafen Art Village in Shenzhen.
I beleive this church was dedicated to Saint Samwise the Loyal, who didst carryth Frodo unto Mount Doom to destroyeth The One Ring.
I believe this church was dedicated to Saint Samwise the Loyal, who didst carryth Frodo unto Mount Doom to destroyeth The One Ring.
It's amazing how many dongs you can fit in one hand.
It’s amazing how many dongs you can fit in one hand.
Puppets for sale near a water puppet theater.
Puppets for sale near a water puppet theater.
Threads of Silk – Now Available for Pre-order!

Threads of Silk – Now Available for Pre-order!

FRONT FINALI am so excited to announce that my first novel is now available for pre-order! I first started writing Threads of Silk back when we lived in Hunan, and a lot of it was inspired by the people and things I came across while living there, especially Hunan embroidery. The book will be published by Red Empress Publishing. The cover artist was Cherith Vaughan. I love the cover so much. If you need a cover done, I highly recommend Cherith. She is a freelance commercial artist who is actively seeking new clients. Threads of Silk is now available for pre-order! Order it now to get it delivered directly to your Kindle on September 6th.

About Threads of Silk

When I was a child, I thought my destiny was to live and die on the banks of the Xiangjiang River as my family had done for generations. I never imagined that my life would lead me to the Forbidden City and the court of China’s last Empress.

Born in the middle of nowhere, Yaqian, a little embroidery girl from Hunan Province, finds her way to the imperial court, a place of intrigue, desire, and treachery. From the bed of an Emperor, the heart of a Prince, and the right side of an Empress, Yaqian weaves her way through the most turbulent decades of China’s history and witnesses the fall of the Qing Dynasty.

About Author Amanda Roberts

IMG_2607 (2)AMANDA ROBERTS is a writer and editor who has been living in China since 2010. Amanda has an MA in English from the University of Central Missouri. She has been published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies around the world and she regularly contributes to numerous blogs. Amanda can be found all over the Internet, but her home is TwoAmericansinChina.com.

About Red Empress Publishing

Logo Embroidered smallRED EMPRESS PUBLISHING is a full-service publisher offering traditional and new services for our authors to help them succeed and stand out in an ever-changing market. The company is actively seeking submissions by women and people of color as part of the company’s philosophy of diversity and inclusion. They are currently seeking submissions in any genre of fiction but especially romance, mystery, fantasy and historical fiction. Authors can submit their books and request more information on Red Empress Publishing’s official website. For the company’s latest news and updates, visit Red Empress on Facebook and Twitter.

Buy on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Threads-Silk-Amanda-Roberts-ebook/dp/B01IJOW7KO