Evil Countess Victoria Von Baden

Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure Buy on Amazon Now

In our story where in the 19th century did Albert’s compass come from? I had a relative who was a Knight during the times of the early crusades. He was one who protected the pilgrims as they journeyed to the Holy Land. I thought that perhaps during the Crusades when the Merovingian kings ruled Europe that the Compass was found by the Knights Templar in the ruins of Solomon’s Temple. In this chapter we find the great granddaughter several generations removed had the Compass. We discover how she lost it and who is going to help her steal it back. The character of the Countess is based on an evil woman I worked for. Be careful when you are around a writer. You never know if you will end up in one of their stories. #followme


The Spider Spins Her Web


The midday sun was finally breaking through the heavy snow clouds. Werner grasped the crumpled note he had gotten at the Dark Sun initiation a few nights back; a hastily written invitation from Countess von Baden to visit her home, Altes Schloss Castle. As he hiked up the steep trail, Werner could hear waves breaking against the craggy cliff behind the castle, which sat on a rocky promontory overlooking Lake Constance.

Werner was more than a little nervous about his meeting with this woman. He did not know anyone like her. He rolled his shoulders in a vain attempt to relax. The nearly three-hour train ride from Munich had left him tired and restless. He was getting in deeper and deeper with these people he hardly knew, and he wondered why the Countess wanted to help him with his initiation task. Despite the cold, his hands were warm and sweaty in the knit gloves he wore.

The smell of wood burning in a fireplace of the nearby castle made him melancholy. He really wanted to be in the familiar comfort of his family home, with the Christmas decorations around the tall spruce tree in the parlor. Instead, he was trudging in God knows where to find out how to do a stupid task that somehow would get him closer to the respect he so rightly deserved.

He finally reached the bridge that led to the castle’s entrance. He made his way across it and walked through the open wrought iron gate. He found himself in a snow-covered courtyard, and he passed a statue of a knight from the Crusades sitting astride a horse, his sword drawn as if in salute. Looking around for the castle door, Werner saw a torch lit on the western side of the courtyard. He walked over to it and found a massive iron key in the lock waiting for him. He took in a breath, stuffed the invitation into his pocket, and tugged on his clothes to straighten them.

Satisfied that he was presentable, he turned the giant key. A loud clunk shattered the quiet. A slight chill shivered up his spine as he strained to push the massive door open. Time seemed to stand still as he peered around into the grand hall. His heart raced when he gazed up at the soaring Gothic architecture.

His gaze was attracted by movement inside the room. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, Werner saw the Countess. She was walking toward him, cat-like, in her floor-length maroon silk robes, their black mink trimming shimmering in the dim light. Smiling, she crossed the black-and-white checkerboard tile floor and extended her hand. “Welcome, Herr von Wiesel. How was your journey?”

Her voice was sultry, and she ran her hands through her waist-length ginger locks, then flipped her cascading hair back over her shoulder. Her mesmerizing, amber, cat-like eyes seemed to glow, and they mesmerized the boy. Then his gaze was captured by a red ruby embedded in a gold spider hanging on a gold chain necklace nestled in her amply displayed cleavage. Werner sucked in a breath as he became more firmly enmeshed in her web.

He managed to tear his gaze away from the spider and licked his lips. “Uh, it was good. I was glad to leave Munich for a while. And please call me Werner.” Fighting to regain his composure, he smoothed back his hair, then crossed his arms.

The temptress said, “You must be cold from your journey.” She took Werner’s hand and led him toward the fireplace. “Come, sit with me on the sofa near the fire.”

As they sat, Werner was grateful to see that the knee-high rosewood table in front of the couch held a polished silver tray with a lavish spread of fresh fruit, cheese, meat, bread, and cakes. A silver teapot with a monogrammed “B” adorned the china.

Werner had last eaten at breakfast and did not pack anything for the train ride. That and the trudge from the station up to the castle had built up a monster hunger. The Countess noticed his glance and said, “Forgive me, you must be famished.” She gestured to the tray. “I had had my servants prepare a snack for you before I dismissed them for the remainder of the day. Please, help yourself.” He needed no more invitation than that and began piling cheese and sausages on a thick slice of still-warm homemade bread. He closed his eyes, inhaled in delight, and his mouth opened wide for a big bite.

The sorceress teased Werner by smiling and pushing his hand with the sandwich away from his mouth. “Not so fast. I invited you here so we could talk privately. Have you told anyone about your visit?”

“No, of course not. You were quite clear I was to tell no one.”

The Countess narrowed her eyes. “Not even Raka? Especially him.”

Werner shook his head firmly. “No, I told no one. Not even my parents. I just said I had to do some school stuff for the day and I might be back late.” His puppy dog eyes pleaded with the Countess to allow him to take a bite from his sandwich.

The Countess paused just a moment longer, letting Werner know who held power here, then, with a smile, motioned with her inch-long, blood-red fingernails for Werner to eat. The hungry young man turned his attention to the food and in just a few brief minutes had sated his hunger. Heaving a deep sigh of satisfaction, he slouched back into the depths of the plush couch and turned once again to the Countess. She had a half-amused smirk on her face as his eyes were once again drawn to the gold necklace… and what it rested upon.

“Do you like it?” she asked coyly.

With an effort, Werner brought his eyes to her face, and he turned quite red. “Um, what?” he asked sheepishly.

“The necklace,” the Countess said, leaning toward Werner and revealing even more of her ample cleavage. “Do you like it?”

“Oh, yes,” he stammered. “It’s very… I mean…”

The Countess laughed and sat back as Werner struggled to bring his thoughts to the reason for his visit. He was very distracted and was experiencing feelings that were unfamiliar to him. The Countess, for her part, found his discomfort amusing. Finally, Werner gathered his wits. “Countess, you said you would help me. Why am I here?”

Victoria was thrilled with Werner’s naiveté. It had been a long time since she’d felt young and vulnerable like him. From childhood, her father held her as a pawn in a chess game of power and influence. Her beauty, plus the fact that she was a von Baden, made her the focus of attention of the rich and mighty. As she grew into puberty and beyond, she learned the effect she had on men. She also learned she could bend them toward her will, but she also had to be very careful and not cross the line with them. Her father’s command that she be demure and please men was alien to her character. When he demanded she be the weak little maiden, it made her want to scream.

The Countess’s mother had died in childbirth. Her older brother was cruel and domineering while her father was controlling and, at the same time, overprotective. Like a lioness in a cage, she had felt trapped for most of her life.

As a teen, she had loved to explore the vast castle. It was her favorite way to escape when life threatened to close in on her, perhaps because they were so isolated from the rest of the world. She loved the cellars and dungeons that seemed to extend into the bowels of the Earth. Even as she grew into young adulthood, she would retreat to these subterranean chambers.

One day she went down into them, hoping to escape the trials of her life. She opened the door to her favorite hiding place to find a terrifying creature sitting on a bench. She froze, unable to move, let alone flee. The sense of a human presence awakened Raka, and he saw a frightened young woman staring at him. The dragon creature in a warm, soft voice said, “Do not be afraid, Victoria, I have been waiting for you. I will not harm you.”

Victoria was mesmerized. Transforming to his human shape, Raka smiled, “I can see that you are a brave and a smart young woman. But you are being stifled by your father’s controlling agenda for you.”

Her jaw dropped in amazement. How did this stranger know her? In an instant, she felt as if he could see right through her. Raka smiled to himself.

Raka sensed her vulnerability and knew she needed him to find her real power—which was considerable. “Believe me, I can help you achieve the things of which you dream.” This was too strange. But it was also intriguing. She did not know what to do. At first. But she had stayed to listen.

Over the next several years, Raka had guided her development, building on her frustrations and displeasure with her father’s plans and step by step, corrupting her to his dark ways.

Then her father died, and it was just her and her brother. For a while. Her father had wanted her to fulfill his vision of having a husband to rescue her; a concept she did not share in the slightest. The lord of the manor would have been aghast to learn how she applied the skill she had acquired thanks to his shooting lessons. Such a pity that her brother had died in a freak hunting accident. Even odder that the bullet that killed him had gone through his back and straight to his heart. Following his funeral, the Countess declared herself a lady of the castle.

The Countess brought herself back to the present. She saw a similar conflict within Werner. She smiled and replied to his question, “I invited you here to help me steal back what is mine.”

At Werner’s puzzled look, she continued. “Raka told me your friend has my compass. My father traded it and other jewels some years ago when he needed money to install electric lighting in our home.”

Her porcelain face reddened, and her nostrils flared. “My father had no right to take it from me. It is mine!

I found it in a chest of relics from the Crusades. My many-times-great grandfather acquired it long ago. My father said the story, told down through generations, was that the knights were searching for the Ark of the Covenant.” She closed her cat-like eyes, reminiscing the pleasure. “The jewels sparkled in the light and always made me feel good. I miss having it. I must have it back.”

Werner hesitated, knowing that Raka wanted the compass. Seeing his hesitation, the Countess intensified her appeal. She grasped Werner’s hand in both of hers and clutched it to her chest, just under her throat, her lips trembling and tears starting to spill onto her cheeks. “Oh, please Herr von Wiesel—Werner—you are my only hope of reclaiming my beloved treasure.”

Werner’s glance vacillated between the woman’s tears and his hand, which was inches away from her cleavage. “Uh, well, um…” Just then, a log in the fireplace popped, sounding for all the world like a gunshot.

Werner jerked back, startled, then realized what had happened. He struggled to regain his composure and drew the Countess’s hands away from her chest. He patted them and looked her in the eyes. “I understand your distress, Countess. But Herr Raka—”

The Countess smiled, sniffing back her tears. “I know Herr Raka has asked you to steal it for him. But it is mine in the first place.”

Werner hesitated, so the Countess leaned toward him. “Besides, I know how to handle Herr Raka.”

“You do?” asked Werner, once again falling under her spell. She is so beautiful, he thought. And she obviously cares for me. The Countess could see the boy was faltering. She nodded and smiled. “Yes.”

Werner wanted nothing more in the world than to please this woman, but there was one more concern. “Uh, Herr Raka has some… information… about me, that could get me in trouble with the authorities. He threatened to expose me if I fail to secure the compass.”

The girls at school think I’m still a boy. What do they know? This beautiful woman sees me as a man who knows how to take care of her.

Watching Werner, the Countess assessed that the time was right. She suddenly brightened. “I have it! I know what we can do.”

The Countess retook Werner’s hand. “Yes. I will explain to Herr Raka that you understand the compass is mine and that I assured you that once I have it, I would be glad to share it with him.”

Hearing her words, Werner felt fantastic. The heaviness that had been suppressing him lifted. “Yes! That’s the perfect solution,” he said, squeezing her hand affectionately.

“Yes, perfect. You are my hero,” said the Countess as she leaned toward Werner and kissed him on the cheek. Werner’s spirits soared.

That evening, on the train home, Werner tried to plan for how he would steal Albert’s compass. But his thoughts kept going back to that kiss.

Do You Have The Courage of an Einstein?

Is it “cool to be cruel”? Our culture today is suffering from cancel culture and bad behavior on social media. Why?

Einstein received a lot of personal attacks in his life. What would do if you were attacked like this?










Albert Einstein was never always famous. Born a Jew, he attended a Catholic school where he faced bullies daily chanting words of antisemitism. At age 16 his parents moved to Italy without him. Left alone, he had no one to help him face the brutal torture of his teachers and peers. When he graduated from college, his professors refused to give him referrals to find a job. What did Albert have that kept him going? A compass his father gave him when he was a boy. The compass was more than a direction finder. It became a dream, his moral code to stay on course to discover what is time, what is light. Albert had courage, the heart to continue his journey, no matter who stood in his way or what tried to stop him. In this time of darkness, find your spiritual compass. Maybe you too can change the world.

Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure

October 1894
Called to Task

As Albert secured his bicycle at the side entrance of the Gymnasium and took his books from the basket mounted in front of the handlebars, he wondered what the Benedictine monks thought of a Jewish boy attending their prestigious boarding school.

Dressed in a stylish charcoal wool suit, Albert walked toward the front of the building. Mounting the steps, he took off his inky, short-brimmed, felt bowler hat and smoothed back his unruly chestnut hair. He was late. Again. But he didn’t care.

Dwarfed by the tall Doric columns, he kept his eyes on the ground. He didn’t even glance at the long wall scroll with the Bavarian monks’ black-and-gold coat of arms that hung above him. Albert’s pace slowed. I am not looking forward to another day of boredom with these dullards.

At sixteen and standing five feet nine, Albert was not an imposing figure. The mild expression on his face hid the firestorm of rage that brewed in his mind. Day after day, the same thing.

This rote memorizing hurts my brain. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Albert let his thoughts drift to his mother and father. He missed his family.

Melancholy came over him as he remembered their goodbyes in early summer. His parents left him with his aunt and uncle so they could pursue work in Italy. He had loved his life before they went. Now, he was stuck in classes where the boys were studying things that he had mastered years earlier. His guardians, unfortunately, were not as understanding as his parents about Albert’s boredom.

Albert stopped next to a column and leaned against it, remembering his initial discovery of the magic of mathematics. He had been only around twelve when Max Talmud, a family friend and struggling medical student, visited the Einstein’s for Shabbat one Friday and gave Albert a gift that changed his life. It was a mathematics book called Simple Algebra, and it opened new worlds to Albert, who at the time was in Folkenshuler elementary school. Albert mastered the text by himself and would delight in surprising Max with how much he had learned since the previous Shabbat.

For Albert, Simple Algebra was like a prayer book. He remembered his wonderment as the book began stimulating questions in his mind. Each problem became a puzzle to solve. Life was a series of “Xs” he decided, a series of unknowns.

Albert forced himself out of his reverie and reluctantly resumed his walk to class. He entered the classroom and glanced over at his friend, Johann. The teacher, Herr von Achen, was writing on the blackboard, his back to the class. Von Achen was a rigid and disciplined man on whom forty resembled sixty. His eyes were a bleak gray behind gold-rimmed spectacles, and he wore a perpetual frown under his balding head.

“The ‘late’ Herr Einstein,” taunted Werner von Wiesel as Albert made his way to his seat. Werner was his usual obnoxious self. The boys in the class would have laughed at the play on words, but they had heard this phrase numerous times already from Von Wiesel. His entourage did manage a weak guffaw as Albert slid into his seat.

Von Achen turned and frowned. “Enough, Herr von Wiesel,” he said in a halfhearted admonishment. Albert, who often challenged Herr von Achen, was far from the teacher’s favorite student. Additionally, Von Achen didn’t want to antagonize the son of Colonel von Wiesel, one of Munich’s substantial citizens.

With a disapproving glare at Albert, Von Achen began the lesson. “Today, we will discuss mathematical treatment of astronomy, Newton’s development of celestial mechanics and the laws of gravitation. Does everyone have their textbook?” Several of the boys nodded, taking out their copies of Josef Krist’s Essentials of Natural Science.

Albert raised his hand. “With all due respect, Herr von Achen, what does astronomy have to do with physics?”

Murmurs and grumbles rippled through the classroom. Werner rolled his eyes, moaning, “Not again… Einstein, do you have to do this?”

Albert stood his ground. “My interest is in learning physics. Astronomy is a waste of my time.”

Herr von Achen turned and glared at Albert. “As part of this course, we are covering the five branches of natural science: astronomy, biology, chemistry, the Earth sciences, and physics. You are to learn a broad range of subjects here, not just one or two.”

I have already covered this, Albert thought. He shook his head in resignation.

Herr von Achen challenged Albert. “Herr Einstein, please stand and explain to the class Newton’s theory of celestial mechanics.”

“The law of universal gravitation states that any two bodies in the universe attract each other with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them,” Albert rattled off sitting in his seat.

Herr von Achen’s face reddened. “What are you talking about? Where in your textbook did you see that?” His anger building, the older man, spat, “And when I tell you to stand young man, you will stand!”

Albert threw his hands up and stood beside his chair. “Herr von Achen, I learned Newton’s theory of celestial mechanics several years ago. I read the Peoples Books of Natural Science when I was twelve. All twenty-one volumes.” A collective gasp rippled through the classroom.

Herr von Achen could barely contain his fury. “I don’t care what you read or when.” He grabbed the copy of the textbook from his desk and held it up. “We are working with this textbook and the information in it. So…” he continued as his body quivered and he slammed the book down on his desk with a sharp crack, “you can shut your mouth now and sit down immediately!”

Turning from Albert to the blackboard, Herr von Achen began madly scribbling as he spoke in short staccato bursts of scientific jargon. Albert wished he were anywhere but here. As the other boys feverishly took notes, attempting to keep up with their still enraged teacher, Albert slumped into his chair and pulled his brass compass from his pocket. He found endless fascination studying his prized possession. Pushing on the twelve gemstones like buttons, he tried to turn it on again. How could he get the number 33 to flash the way it had when he first opened the compass?

He was pulled from his dream-like state by the clock striking the hour and marking the end of the class. Albert put away his compass and gathered his books, happy to be heading for the door. Just as he was about to escape, Herr von Achen motioned him over to his desk. Albert approached cautiously. Herr von Achen pointed his right index finger at Albert and through clenched teeth growled, “Just who do you think you are, Herr Einstein?”

Albert took in a deep breath. “What do you want me to say, Herr von Achen?”

With a vein throbbing just above his brow, Von Achen spat out, “You come to class late, sit in the back row with your attention elsewhere, and argue with me whenever you can. Where is your respect?”

“Sorry, sir,” Albert replied, his patience at an end.

Herr von Achen leaned forward across his desk, coming only inches from Albert’s face. “Well then, perhaps you would do better somewhere else.” He pulled an envelope from his inside jacket pocket and smacked it against Albert’s chest. “You are to meet with the Academik Committee in six weeks. The letter explains everything.” He spun around to straighten some papers on his desk. “And, Herr Einstein,” he said with sarcasm, his attention on the papers, “be on time.”

Not knowing what to say, Albert stepped back and stared blankly at the letter in his hand. Albert’s face flushed as the idea of being expelled from school and having his plans shattered took hold. His thoughts raced. His teachers at the Folkenshuler tried to force him to conform. Albert found it suffocating. Suddenly, the whole place felt like it was closing in on him.

Albert bolted from the classroom, ran through the hall and bolted out the front door. The biting, near-winter wind smacked Albert in the face as he burst out of the Gymnasium. Running and out of breath.

He inhaled the cold air into his lungs. Albert tried to calm himself and take stock. He needed to be alone. Slowly Albert calmed down, and rationality returned. He realized he needed his bicycle. Keeping his eyes down to avoid engaging with anyone, made his way back to the side entrance of the Gymnasium. No one paid any attention to Albert as he mounted his bicycle and pedaled away. His heavy wool suit barely kept him warm in the fall chill, but he hardly noticed.

Finally, on the edge of campus, he took one hand off the handlebars to wipe the tears from his eyes. Albert pedaled fast to Gasteig Park and the bridge at the end of the Prinzregentenstrasse. He slowed before a bench in the formal gardens and set his bicycle on the brittle, brown grass.

Sitting back, like a lost soul Albert closed his eyes. He felt crushed and out of control and just wanted to scream out his anger with Herr von Achen. He gazed across the terraces where the bare branches of tall birch and maples trees quivered in the wind. Rising above in the axis of the Prinzregentenstrasse was the Angel of Peace, a statue of the ancient Greek goddess of victory, Athena Nike. Albert stared at the towering, golden figure. “My only god is mathematics,” he declared out loud. The sun began to set, and Albert shivered in the chill air. I need to be somewhere where I can think. He didn’t want to discuss this with Johann, and his aunt and uncle would be of no assistance. Then he realized he had the perfect place.

It was fully dark by the time Albert found himself riding past candlelit houses of middle-class families. A short time later, he arrived at his destination. Quietly Albert walked his bike to the back of the house and left it under a small canopy made for the family vehicles. He opened the back door and entered a quiet house. He was alone. Since his parents had taken his younger sister, Mara, to Italy, he had the family home all to himself.

He turned on the hall light and climbed the stairs two at a time. He opened the door to find his bed, dresser, and armoire had accumulated only a light coat of dust since he’d left them in the summer. Just being back in the familiar room helped to calm him. Taking a deep breath, Albert reached under the bed and pulled out his violin case. He opened it and carefully picked up his friend, Violina. Albert stood in the middle of the living room, closed his eyes and remembered playing the Mozart lullaby “I See the Moon” with his mother accompanying him on the piano. Profoundly missing his family, he began to play the favorite tune on his violin. As the sweet notes emerged from Violina, Albert started walking, then gently waltzing, around the room. He could almost hear his mother singing the melody and laughing. The folksy love song lifted his heart. Lost in his dreams, Albert let the song fill him.

Bowing the last strains of the beautiful melody, Albert found the memory of his ordeal with Herr von Achen intruding into his awareness. The warm Violina still in his hands, he opened his eyes to a dimly lit bedroom, abandoned. He sighed and settled Violina into her case. Feeling forlorn, Albert collapsed onto his bed fully clothed and fell into a deep sleep. Tomorrow would be a new day.


Interview with Grace Blair, the author of a YA historical fantasy novel Einstein’s Compass

This week, we’re talking with Grace Blair about her book, Einstein’s Compass: A YA Time Traveler Adventure



Tell us something unexpected about yourself!

Since childhood I have had empathic visions of God, angels and Christ. Organized religions did not fulfill my quest to know more.

In 1973, I met my spiritual mentor John-Roger. With his guidance, I discovered my spiritual heart through inner discipline of spiritual exercises and soul transcendence.


Why do you write?

I am a shepherd of the words in the books I have written and grateful my work is making a difference in people’s lives.


Where did you get the inspiration for your current book?

Young Albert Einstein lived during the horse and buggy days. The latest technology was the light bulb.

Where did a Jewish boy who attended a Catholic school receive his vision of time and light? What if his soul was reincarnated from Atlantis? What if he was a priest-scientist from that time who was trying to remember what he did back then?


What do you enjoy the most about your genre?

Historical fiction is my favorite genre because I learn something every time I read a historical novel.

Adding a science fiction fantasy to Albert Einstein’s twenty year history adds a WOW factor, especially the thriller ending.


How would you describe your writing process?

I listen to my inner intuitive voice to hear and see what my story and characters want me to share.


What do you think authors have to gain from participating in social media?

Connecting to the world of information on social media assists authors to connect their work to readers and to each other. The author community is important as we support one another in our journey and share our work.


What advice would you have for other writers?

Find the passion in your story and write.


How do you select your books’ titles and covers?

Research on Amazon in genres to find the perfect fit for my audience.


What’s your next step?

Writing a novella on the background story of Atlantis in Einstein’s Compass. “Atlantis and the Supernatural Compass”.


What book do you wish you had written?

The Chronicles of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor.


How do you react to seeing a new review for your book?

Reviews are gold. I feel excited when I read a new review. I appreciate a reader who has taken their precious time to share their experience and perhaps influence a person seeking advice for a new read.



Working Remotely? Using These 5 Expert Tips to Feel Your Best

Initially, the idea of working remotely can sound privileged and glamorous. Working location-independent has an allure that a stuffy office with dim, fluorescent lighting just can’t compete with. However, as anyone who has worked remotely for a long stretch of time knows, this arrangement has unexpected downsides. Setting boundaries, changing into “real” clothes for the day, and being able to fully “switch off” are just a few of the challenges that can arise.

Whether you’ve been working at home for one month or for one year, Grace Allison has five expert tips that you can use to feel your best.

Free yourself of distractions

The first significant challenge that almost every remote worker encounters is distraction. From kids yelling and crying while you’re finishing up an important report to dogs barking during your Zoom meeting, distractions are a natural part of working outside of the office. Even if you work from a coffee shop for the day, music and people talking loudly can derail your productivity.

Start by accepting that, at some level, you will always face distractions when working remotely. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean that there are no steps you can take to free yourself of many of them. Consider investing in tech accessories (such as noise-canceling headphones) to block out sound. If you find yourself checking your social media feeds more often than you should, delete these apps off of your phone for the day. Do whatever you can to reduce noise and other distractions that you wouldn’t have in the office.

Support your mental health

Regular in-person social interactions are essential for having good mental health. Socializing can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, reduce your risk of cognitive decline, and extend your lifespan. When working remotely, you do not have daily interactions with co-workers. Depending on your circumstances, this may lead to you not seeing anyone in person for days on end.

For this reason alone, it is critical that remote workers do everything possible to support their mental health. If you are struggling with depression, for example, seek professional help to develop a treatment plan. Also, schedule regular gatherings with close family and friends to guarantee that you’ll socialize with others each week.

Make your workspace look and feel good

One advantage of working from home is being able to create the workspace of your dreams. You can fully customize your home office with any decor that you desire. Being surrounded by objects, colors, patterns, aromas, and sounds that are pleasing to you will further boost your mental health. Make your workspace look and feel good by adding things that you enjoy, such as an essential oil diffuser, a record player, a favorite work of art, or comfy pillows.

Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy foods

The temptation to snack on unhealthy foods is strong when your house is stocked with junk food. Clear your pantry of chips, candy, and soda. Replace all unhealthy snacks and lunch items with nutrient-dense choices that are quick and easy to make.

Set boundaries to achieve a healthy work-life balance

Among all of the obstacles you can face as a remote worker, one of the most difficult to overcome is setting healthy work-life boundaries. Most people underestimate how valuable the physical transition from work to home is when working in an office. Without this transition, it becomes easy to blur the lines between work and home. To preserve your health and well-being, set firm boundaries for checking your email, answering work calls/texts, and working on projects after-hours.

Once you get into the swing of working remotely, the pros can undoubtedly outweigh the cons. Following the tips above can help you develop healthy work habits that keep you feeling your best.


Grace Allison is an award-winning author and modern Christian mystic. Through her work, she has helped thousands of individuals find spiritual wisdom that helps them work through life’s challenges. Visit her blog to learn more.

Article written by:

Cheryl Conklin

Wellness Central

For Laws of Nature – Jacqui Murray

Why do Lucy’s kind (and Xha’s) ignore their dead?

Lucy’s and Xha’s kind didn’t bury their dead. That symbol of respect and understanding of an afterlife came much later. Earliest man knew of no world or life beyond their own.

 What’s with the unusually bright star Lucy saw?

Lucy saw a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus and the bright star Regulus. Such an event occurs rarely but when it does, the resulting “star” is extremely bright. Historians suggest the biblical Star of Bethlehem was this sort of planetary conjunction. Recent history experienced another one on December 21, 2020, the first in 800 years.

A boy blinded by fire. A woman raised by wolves. An avowed enemy offers help.


 In this second of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, the first trilogy in the Man vs. Nature saga, Lucy and her eclectic group escape the treacherous tribe that has been hunting them and find a safe haven in the famous Wonderwerk caves in South Africa. Though they don’t know it, they will be the oldest known occupation of caves by humans. They don’t have clothing, fire, or weapons, but the caves keep them warm and food is plentiful. But they can’t stay, not with the rest of the tribe enslaved by an enemy. To free them requires not only the prodigious skills of Lucy’s unique group–which includes a proto-wolf and a female raised by the pack–but others who have no reason to assist her and instinct tells Lucy she shouldn’t trust.

 Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

 A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Excerpt: Chapter 1



South Africa


Fresh blood streaked Short-tooth’s muzzle, her golden eyes alert to every movement around her as she munched on Gazelle’s meaty carcass. Each movement made the Cat’s tawny fur ripple over the powerful muscles beneath her skin. She raised her head, chewing slowly while studying the grass field in front of her, especially toward the back where it blended into the forest. She couldn’t see Mammoth but smelled it, close to the Uprights, maybe protecting them. Despite being the size of a boulder, this pachyderm could outrun most predators and would think nothing of crushing them beneath its massive feet.

Short-tooth wasn’t interested in the Uprights. Their bodies had little meat and less fat. Gazelle was more satisfying.

Cat ripped a slab of fragrant meat from the hind leg. Snarling-dog—to the far side—slapped the ground. He was hungry but wouldn’t eat Gazelle until Short-tooth finished. Cat purred loudly, close to a snarl, and Snarling-dog withdrew, but not far. Carrion-bird overhead tightened its circle and a tiny shrew the size of Short-tooth’s paw waited patiently, out of Cat’s range, eyes bright, nose twitching. A shred from the carcass was all it needed.

None of these creatures mattered to Short-tooth. She was the apex predator in her savannah habitat.


Sticky yellow globs of Mammoth dung slid down Lucy’s back and plopped to the dry thatch. The dung coat was melting under Sun’s intense heat, exactly as Lucy planned. Its purpose was to confuse Short-tooth Cat. The hotter Sun became, the stronger Mammoth’s smell.

Lucy and her young pairmate, Garv, lay motionless, like Snake sleeping, bodies pressed into the prickly grass, oblivious to the feathery feet that scurried over their backs. She and Garv, too, wanted what Short-tooth didn’t consume. They were more patient than Snarling-dog but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t eat first. The first to arrive got the best of the leftovers.

Lucy rubbed her raw eyes, bleary from watching Cat bite, rip, and chew. If Short-tooth knew of their presence, it was not because she saw them. Lucy and Garv blended into the landscape. Their skin was the color of dirt and dry grass, impossible to find if you weren’t looking. No part of their bodies moved except their narrowed eyes as they scanned the surroundings, evaluating each new arrival to the feast. The dominant scents never changed—Snarling-dog, Short-tooth Cat, something decaying in the nearby forest, her pairmate Garv’s sweaty body, and Gazelle’s ripening offal.

Sun’s relentless heat washed over Lucy in waves. Sweat dripped down her face, over her pronounced brow ridge and into her eyes, but for reasons she didn’t understand, despite his fur pelt, Snarling-dog was dry. He reminded Lucy of Ump, her tribe’s Canis member. Even on the hottest days, Ump didn’t sweat. Instead, he panted more.

Today, Snarling-dog panted hard.

Short-tooth raised her feline head, inspecting her habitat as her jaws crunched through the fresh carrion. She reeked of malevolence which meant scavengers like Lucy and Garv willingly waited their turn.

Sun climbed through the cloudless blue sky. The morning haze had burned off long ago. The dew Lucy hadn’t licked off the leaves, Sun’s heat had. Her throat was dry, lips cracked, but that mattered less than securing scavenge. Her tribe was hungry.

Lately, unexpectedly, when Lucy sat quietly as she did now, a tingle deep inside her chest told her Raza, her former pairmate, was in trouble. The first time she experienced this tingle, what Garv called “instinct”, it churned through her body as a current does in a stream. She thought she was sick until Garv explained this was instinct and it warned of danger, not illness. He told her always to listen, but how was she to do that? Raza had been captured by the tribe’s worst enemy, a formidable Upright called Man-who-preys. She didn’t know where they’d taken him. As often as she brushed the feeling away, it returned, each time stronger than the last.

Cat’s yellow eyes snapped open and her methodical jaws slowed. Something caught her interest, maybe Snarling-dog’s impatience or Carrion-bird’s relentless approach. After a warning hiss, Short-tooth shook her big head and pawed her face. A swarm of black flies lifted, buzzed briefly, and then resettled where they’d started, again gorging on the blood and carrion that stuck to Short-tooth’s face

The flies are thicker than usual.

Short-tooth returned to her meal and Lucy sniffed, wondering what drew Cat’s attention. She didn’t expect to see Man-who-preys here, but took nothing for granted. The tall, big-headed, hairless enemy always carried a long stick which he used to kill prey. Sometimes, he didn’t eat the animal, just watched it die. This unpredictability, that he followed no norms, made him more treacherous than other predators.

She inhaled, but didn’t smell his stench so turned her attention back to the hunt.

Carrion-bird floated overhead, feet tucked beneath its sleek body. The longer Cat ate, the more of the huge birds arrived. They thought their powerful sweeping wings, sharp claws, and piercing beaks made them the mightiest among the scavengers. What they didn’t realize was that Lucy and Garv possessed an even greater weapon: They could plan. Before Carrion-bird or Snarling-dog got too close, Lucy and Garv would take what they needed and flee.

They always did.

In the edging forest, Cousin Chimp hooted, the pitch and length describing the location of a tree newly bearing fruit. Leaves rustled as his band raced away. Lucy hoped they would leave enough of the succulent produce for her and Garv.

She hunkered deeper into the tall waving stalks, tracking the other scavengers and noting again how far away the trees were in case she needed to flee. A snake slithered over her foot, through the thatch and out of sight. She and Garv had been motionless for so long, Snake probably viewed them as dirt mounds in its path.

Garv tweaked an eyebrow and Lucy motioned, hands a tight circle in front of her chest, well hidden, “Dull colors, no knobs on snake’s tail—no danger.”

Her kind—Man-who-makes-tools—used a sophisticated blend of communication including body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, mimicking, and vocalization. One of their greatest defenses in this brutal world was the ability to become part of their surroundings. Voices were unusual sounds heard nowhere in nature except from Uprights, mostly the big-headed Man-who-preys. Lucy’s kind occasionally whispered and Tree-men, like Boah who was part of Lucy’s tribe, rarely made any sounds beyond huffs, grunts, howls, and moans. Only Man-who-preys jabbered endlessly.


Lucy’s eyelids drooped. This hunt had started yesterday when Lucy and Garv found the fresh cloven prints of a Gazelle herd. Lucy’s kind ate copious amounts of roots, nuts, fruit, juicy stems, and insects, but only meat gave them the energy to survive their dangerous lives. Because they hunted only dead animals, they depended upon predators to make the kill. Gazelle’s fleshy body always attracted Cat and its cousins, like Short-tooth. They would pick off the injured, and Lucy’s tribe would eat what they left.

Because not enough daylight remained yesterday, Lucy and Garv set out today, at Sun’s first light. They followed the herd while the rest of the tribe—the Tree-man Boah, the child Voi, and the Canis Ump—stayed at the homebase’s cave. Before Sun had traveled far, a snarl and a screech told Lucy a predator claimed its prey. When Carrion-bird and its cousins started to circle, she and Garv knew exactly where to go.


Garv nudged Lucy, the movement so subtle the grass didn’t even move. “Short-tooth is leaving.”

Lucy bit her lip and shot a look at Garv. His face radiated excitement.

She studied Short-tooth, tried to see what Garv saw and finally gestured, “I don’t see anything. Why do you think she’s finished?”

He motioned, one finger moving against his palm, “Instinct.” Nothing else.

But that was enough. Garv had taught her to stalk prey, knap tools, hunt, and protect herself. Because of him, she became an accomplished hunter, never missed a print, a bent frond, the fragrance left on leaves or bark, or any other sign. As partners, they always brought meat to the tribe. Most hunters didn’t.

Garv’s instinct had found more prey than Lucy’s tracking skills or senses ever did. She had no doubt Short-tooth would soon leave.


Cat’s big tongue, as long as Lucy’s forearm, licked the bloody scraps from her muzzle, a sign even to Lucy that she had finished. Lucy shifted to her hands and toes, knees hovering above the ground, prepared for what must come next. Garv did the same, his body hard from the life he lived, senses alert to every noise. Carrion-birds cawed and tightened their circle. On the opposite side of the field, Snarling-dog’s pack bared their canines, tails stiff. Drool dripped from their jowls and their gaze bounced between Cat and the Uprights, knowing from experience the scrawny but agile creatures were vigorous competitors.

You are fast, Snarling-dog, but we are smart. We will always get there first!

Lucy tensed as Short-tooth pushed up to her massive paws, canines red with blood, saliva dripping in strands from her jowls. She yawned, her mouth a dark cavity vast enough to swallow Lucy’s entire head, and ambled off. Lucy and Garv exploded to their feet and sprinted toward the carcass. Their powerful legs churned while nimble hands pulled cutters and stones from the sacks strung around their necks. Lucy’s job was to delay Snarling-dog and Carrion-bird while Garv stripped the carrion.

“Argh!” Lucy roared, waving a leafy branch through the air to make herself bigger to Snarling-dog while Garv attacked the carcass. Ignoring the fetid stench of dung and urine, he swung the sharp cutter and sliced through the hide and then muscle and tendon.

Lucy flung a stone at the lead Snarling-dog. It hit his temple, hard, and he dropped with a squeal. His pack slowed to reassess the upright creature and Lucy threw another stone, this one at the new leader’s eye. He yipped and stumbled, shook his head, and pawed at the blood that oozed from the wound and dribbled down his muzzle.

“Lucy!” Garv tossed an almost pristine haunch to her and then swung his chopper at Gazelle’s ribs. Carrion-bird, well into its death dive, talons extended, screeched its imminent attack.

“Let’s go!” Lucy called, the unexpected sound of her voice meant to startle the scavengers.

She hurled a rock at the lead Carrion-bird. It squawked and withdrew, which slowed the rest of the flock. Lucy grabbed an almost-meatless leg bone. It would be filled with nutritious bloody marrow. Meat secured over her shoulders, she and Garv fled. No one chased them. Why abandon certain meat for an uncertain meal? Lucy raced past a termite mound, noted its location, rounded a boulder bed, and lost sight of the fracas.

Not the scent, though. The tantalizing aroma sailed through the air, announcing to every scavenger around the availability of meat.

Book information:

 Title and author: Laws of Nature

Series: Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Editor: The extraordinary Anneli Purchase

Available print or digital) at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU  Kindle India


Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman , the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.


Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page:         https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                        https://worddreams.wordpress.com

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

LinkedIn:                                 http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

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Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net


Atlantis and the Supernatural Compass


Young Einstein learned through thought experiments he was able to go beyond his mind into joyful wonder. I had to go into my inner world of creativity to write the story of how an innocent young Jewish boy rose in his imagination to change the world. My novel began in 2014, published in 2019 and has won ten book awards. Now I begin a new chapter in my creative imagination with a novella based on the lost continent of Atlantis. Twenty thousand words of where our protagonist Arka and his evil brother Raka will embark on an adventure to initate the first supernatural Shamir Stone into the pryamids of Egypt. A new character Kyre, the high priest in charge of the light and energy crystals and Shamir will show us how the supernatural compass is created and used for the energy source for the pryamids and the world. Raka will do his best to interfere with the light workers. Are you ready to take an adventure to the original place of thought experiments, inspired creativity and spiritual light?

Spring 1895
Thought Experiment

Six male students in their mid-teens dressed in wool suits, starched white shirts, and blue-and-yellow neckties sat two by two in a single row, anxiously awaiting the start of class. Albert had enrolled in Aarau High School after his unsuccessful attempt to enter the Polytechnic. Of course, he had passed the math and science section of the exam with flying colors. Yet the test showed Albert needed more study in languages, biology, literature, political science, and botany. While somewhat disappointed with the test results, he saw it would only take a year at Aarau before he could get to the Polytechnic, and he was okay with that.

The smell of fresh white chalk stimulated Albert’s mind. He focused on the three Hs the headmaster, Professor Winteler, wrote on the blackboard; the principles of teaching the school followed.

Heart – to explore what students want to learn. To develop their moral qualities, such as helping others.

Head – to understand objects, concepts, and experiences.

Hand – to learn the craft of doing good work and develop their physical skills.

Completing his writing with a flourish, the teacher turned to face his class. His brown eyes twinkled, and there was genuine warmth and enthusiasm in his voice as he said, “I have found that people learn more easily accessing their intuition, their inner powers than they do through their minds.”

In the front row, Albert relaxed. For the first time in his school life, the reject from the Gymnasium in Germany felt connected.

The wise professor put down the chalk and rubbed his hands together. He adjusted his spectacles and said, “Our first exercise will be a thought experiment. It will assist us when we want to consider a hypothesis or theory when the purpose is to think through by steps to its consequences. This practice will increase your personal power of thought and imagination. What’s more,” he said with a smile, “by going inward, you begin to trust yourself.”

A sandy-haired student raised his hand, and the professor acknowledged him. “Yes, Gregory, you have a question?”

“I do, sir,” the boy said as he stood.

The professor smiled. “Good. Questions are encouraged. What do you have?”

“In this mind experiment, do we have our eyes open or closed?”

“For the purposes of our first experiment, you will have your eyes closed. Though I am sure sometimes during the day, you find yourself in a daydream where your mind is drifting in space even with your eyes open.” Gregory nodded as the professor continued. “We are going to use a what-if, dreamy kind of imagination to allow you to let go and create possibilities.”

As Gregory sat down, the professor instructed, “Now I want you to remove your jackets, loosen your ties, and sit up straight with your arms and legs uncrossed. Place your hands on your thighs, palms up.”

The students did so and waited for the next direction.

“Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath,” Winteler said. “Inhale, then slowly let go of all the air in your lungs.” He paused for a few seconds. “Again, this time breathe in more slowly.” As the students did this, he paused, then said, “Hold the air inside.” He paused again. “Let go of all the air, slowly. Allow your body to relax. Keep your eyes closed and focus on your breath going in and out. If your mind starts to chatter, just acknowledge that then bring your focus back to your breathing.”

Albert sat with his back straight though he was relaxed, surrendering his mind. Lost in the experience, the dreamer did not even hear what the teacher said next because he found himself enveloped in a warm glow, and he felt like he was rising above the Earth. A motion caught his awareness, and he glanced to the side. Next to him flew a graceful, towering, luminous being with flowing, golden hair. Somehow, Albert sensed it was an angel. The angel’s violet eyes gave the dreamer a loving smile, and Albert surrendered more fully to his experience. Archangel Michael offered Albert his hand, and Albert gently grasped it. The sound of angels singing “Glory to God in the highest” rang out over the universe.

Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure

How I Flourished During the Pandemic

There is nothing like a pandemic to put a plot twist into your life. Plans to Hawaii canceled because of hotels locking down. Travel insurance did not cover Covid related travel. How distracted had my life become with being busy out in the world? I wondered if Mother Nature was telling us, “Its time you stayed home and took better care of yourself”? Okay, how can I make this work for me? I have had times in my life when a crisis arrives to orient myself to my spiritual compass. To stay connected to my courage, confidence, and creativity, I focus on my spiritual heart. I redirected my focus on marketing my novel, “Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure” by entering book award contests. Even in a saturated book market, I received more than ten book awards. To increase sales with the new visibility of book awards, I took out ads on Story Monster, IBPA and Kindle Nation targeting my audience of young adults. I took walks to a nearby park, used our elliptical machine, took online yoga classes and piano lessons. During the year there have been trials however, discipline kept me learning and in the future. My husband loves my new chicken soup and beef stew. Now I want a trip to a beach.

Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure

Albert felt his compass tingle in his pocket when he entered the inner chamber. He drew out the etheric construct of the compass and studied the twelve glowing gems.

Arka glanced at the gems on the compass’s cover. “Hmm,” he said approvingly. “We will need that soon,” Albert responded to the comment with a puzzled glance but did not question Arka, who guided the boys to a hovering platform where they descended into a vast subterranean chamber housing the six-sided, twenty-foot, Blue Larimar Tuaoi Stone. As they entered the massive chamber, the platinum dome opened, allowing the stone to receive the energy of the sun.

Arka checked a holographic gauge that measured the energies of the power source. Then, glancing aside to Albert, who still held his compass, Arka said, “Your compass is responding to the emanations from the stone, which is directing the solar and terrestrial energies.”

Albert glanced at his compass, which was indeed glowing brightly.

“This stone,” Arka said reverently, “is the power source for the planet. It receives rays of light from the sun and the stars, then concentrates those energies. As the stone vibrates with our Earth’s frequencies, it broadcasts them to satellites that then rebroadcast them to power everything from our hovercraft to our great engines of manufacturing to the lighting in our homes.”

Albert was in awe. “This is amazing. Where do I go to learn? Who will teach me?”

Arka put his hand on Albert’s shoulder, saying, “We will not give you books to read, Albert. Instead, we will show you how to reach into the light source of your spiritual heart, so you can receive the inner knowledge and create with the divine moving through you.”

Albert nodded. “That would be wonderful. I have practiced doing thought experiments: I imagine the solutions to a problem.” He frowned. “However, I have been having trouble with my theory of light.”

Arka smiled again. “Yes, you are using your mind. But that will only take you so far. To truly gain understanding, you must expand into a greater awareness of the Light within your spiritual heart. That is why you are here.”

Albert felt a great sense of rightness with what Arka had told him. “I would be very grateful for whatever you can teach me,” he said with uncharacteristic humility.

Arka asked Johann to wait outside, then led Albert to a pair of mahogany chairs that faced each other and gestured for Albert to sit across from him.

Arka said, “Lay your compass in your open left palm, then close your eyes, sit back, and relax.” Albert did as he was told, and Arka continued with his lesson. “Take a deep breath and hold it. Now let the air go.” Albert did as he was instructed several times, then he heard Arka say, “Realize the love in your heart. Envision a presence of Light shining from deep within you. Imagine the sound of your spirit singing to you.”

Albert flowed with the sound of Arka’s voice as the priest-scientist guided him deeper and deeper into his self.

After an indeterminate time, Albert heard Arka say, “Now open your eyes and put your compass next to your heart.”

Albert, with a serenity that bordered on reverence, did as instructed.

“When you go into your thought experiments, hold the compass next to your heart, and it will reconnect you to this blessing. As that happens, you will be free to expand in a greater way to the inner source of your creativity.”

Albert’s skin tingled. His brown eyes glowed with a gentle light. He struggled to speak but could not, so he just relaxed back into his chair.

“In time, you will do this without the compass,” Arka said.

Albert just nodded in acknowledgment.

Arka respectfully allowed Albert to bask in this Light of his own essence and went to bring Johann back into the room. As Johann entered, he took one look at Albert and declared, “Albert, you look radiant.”

Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure

Relationships in Einstein’s Compass

Johanne Thomas Young Albert Einstein’s childhood friend

An excellent story needs conflict. In this chapter we see the dark characters Raka and Wilhelm vs the light Einstein and Johann. This is a turning point in the story. The quest for the compass drives Raka to manipulate Wilhelm. Johann’s friendship (he thinks) protects Albert and his compass. I created Albert’s character from his biography and the professorial mind from my husband, Dr. John Blair, who taught business management at Texas Tech. Johann is part of me and what I imagined Albert needed him to be. Raka is part Machiavelli and a sociopath. Because Albert is a powerful person, I wanted his nemesis to be larger than him. Wilhelm’s character is a lot like young boys I have known who broken from childhood turn into bullies. I had to be brave to hear the depth of darkness in Raka. His evil power made me want to take a shower. Johann’s unconditional love for Albert puts him in danger. He becomes the force who helps Albert. I have had to stand up to bullies in my life. There is a cost when you do. I have prevailed and with Johann’s love, so did our hero Albert.

December 1894
Twist of Fate

Bright umbrellas dotted the farmer’s market in central Munich, creating a rainbow of slightly faded but still festive colors. The shouts of buyers haggling for fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats on the cold December Saturday filled the air. By mid-morning, tired patrons of the market, having been up since before dawn, shuffled into Munich Brau Biergarten for sandwiches and beer. Rows of people sat family style on long picnic tables, taking a well-earned break and enjoying their repast.

Johann was wiping down the bar with a damp rag when he saw Albert walk through the doorway. His immediate reaction was happiness, which was quickly replaced with fear. Johann frantically looked around to see if any of the boys, who often hung out at the Biergarten on Saturdays after a tough week at school, had noticed Albert’s arrival. Since their critical discussion the day of the Volkisch rally, Albert had been staying away from his friend—in fact, the whole Thomas family—to avoid causing them problems for associating with a Jew.

Albert couldn’t keep a smile from his face as he pulled up a barstool at the far end of the bar. Johann continued polishing the bar as he slowly made his way to where Albert sat. Glancing furtively around, Johann hissed at Albert in a whisper, “What are you doing here, Albert? You know it’s dangerous for us if you’re seen talking to me.”

Albert waved away his friend’s concern and leaned toward him. “My ‘problem’ is solved! And with it, our problem will go away as well.”

Johann frowned, appearing to rub at a stubborn stain on the bar. “Are you crazy? What do you mean?”

With a grin, Albert gave Johann a quick recap of his dinner with Herr Talmud and his hopes of going to Switzerland—which would effectively remove Albert from the local scene and keep him safely away from Johann and his family. As Albert laid out the situation, Johann wiped in slower and slower circles, and his frown began to change into a smile. By the time Albert finished his narrative, Johann had all but forgotten his concerns. “Albert, that would be wonderful!” he exclaimed, then clapped his hand over his mouth and looked around to see if anyone had heard.

Albert was grinning and nodding when a thought hit Johann, and he deflated like a punctured balloon. “But… Switzerland?”

Albert put his hand on his friend’s arm. “I know. But it’s not so far away. Since I will no longer be the center of attention, I think we will see each other when I come home to visit my family.”

“Yes. Maybe so,” Johann said, not entirely convinced as he went back to polishing the bar.

Behind Albert, the senior class boys were toasting each other. It filled them with the optimism and hope of young men preparing to make their way into the world in a few months. Johann drew Albert a beer, then excused himself from taking the overflowing garbage pail to the trash bin outside. As he was emptying the last scraps out of the bucket, Werner Von Wiesel rode up on his bicycle.

Hoping to avoid his classmate, Johann turned to walk away. But Werner called out to him. “Wait just a minute, Johann!” His back to Werner, Johann grimaced. He wanted nothing to do with the bully who had threatened him if he stayed friends with Albert. But the boy was becoming increasingly influential at school. There was no way Johann could ignore him without reprisals.

Walking up to Johann, Werner put his hand on Johann’s shoulder. “Johann, I want to apologize for what I said about you and Albert.”

Johann turned, his eyes widening with incredulity. “What?”

“No, really. I’ve been thinking about it. There’s no reason you and I can’t be friends.” Werner smiled and laughed nervously as he extended his hand to shake.

Johann wasn’t buying it. “What do you want, Werner?” he asked, ignoring the proffered hand and being as brusque as he dared to be.

Werner looked at Johann for a moment, and Johann could practically see the wheels turning in the boy’s head. Then Werner leaned toward Johann. “Okay, look,” he said conspiratorially. “I remember hearing you and Albert talking about this compass of his. I want to get a look at it.”

Johann frowned, thinking hard. “Compass? Uh, I don’t know what you’re talking about, Werner.”

Werner’s expression turned serious, his patience evaporating. He grabbed Johann by the front of his shirt and pulled him close. Through clenched teeth, he said, “Don’t play dumb, Johann. I want to see the compass, and I will see it.” Then he pushed Johann away roughly, so the boy fell to one knee. Werner turned his back on Johann and strode into the Biergarten while Johann dusted off his trousers and straightened his clothing. When he was satisfied with his appearance, he reclaimed his empty garbage pail and followed Werner back inside.

Meanwhile, Raka, astride a bicycle, had been tracking the smell of the Shamir. Attracted by a sudden spike in negative energy, he paused his quest to investigate. The negativity of any sort pleased him. Dismounting, he walked his bicycle toward the source of power at the back of the Biergarten and cautiously peered around the corner of the building. He was just in time to overhear most of Johann and Werner’s exchange about the compass.

The hatred in Werner’s consciousness tasted pleasant, almost sweet, on Raka’s tongue as he considered this development. A human boy with the same objective—though certainly not the same motive—as himself. And a boy in whom fear and hatred simmered, just waiting for something to bring it to a boil. This was just too good to be true. Raka relished the thought of turning the boy into a minion who would do his bidding. He would have to come up with a plan to pull Werner to his cause.

A dormant blackthorn bush at the side of the Biergarten gave him an idea. He broke off a short twig that held a hard, long spike. From a gland in his throat, he secreted a toxic venom, then spit it onto the thorn. Looking furtively left, then right, he affixed the lethal barb onto the outside of the handle on the right side of Werner’s bicycle. He knew that to some this secretion could be deadly. But to those who were steeped in hatred and negativity, it would have a different effect.

His plan set in motion, Raka left his own bicycle leaning against the wall and walked to the front of the building, where he entered and found a place to watch his target. He spotted Werner with his friends at the end of one of the large family tables.

Johann stood unhappily in the kitchen area. He didn’t much like the idea of Albert going to Switzerland, even though he could see it was probably a good thing. And he didn’t want that Werner was interested in Albert’s compass. But there was nothing he could do about either situation now. With a heavy sigh, he placed several paper-wrapped ham sandwiches and bottles of beer into a sack to take to his father, who was working nearby.

As he walked past Albert, he said, “I’ll be back in a few minutes. I want to talk more about your news.”

From his table, Werner was preparing to approach Johann once again. But seeing he was about to leave, he waited and tracked Johann’s movements with interest. As Johann made his way out of the Biergarten, Werner went to the back of the building where he had left his bicycle.

Out front, Johann put the sack into the wicker basket on his bicycle. He shivered in the December chill as he mounted his bike and began the short ride to deliver lunch to his father and the clerks.

In the back of the Biergarten, Werner wrapped his scarf around his neck and face to protect himself from the chill air as he rushed to mount his bike. He grabbed the handlebars, then yelped with pain. The bully stared at his hand and saw a thorn sticking in the palm of his hand. He plucked the barb out and angrily threw it to the ground as he began pedaling to catch up with Johann. He’d give the boy one more chance to get Albert to show him his compass.

As he pedaled, the venom from the thorn began coursing through his body. The effect was immediate. His face turned crimson. Nostrils flared, and his eyes bulged. His muscles and veins strained against his skin.

He felt a rush of hatred and anger toward Johann. “Who was he to say no?” he asked himself. Werner gripped the handlebars harder as he raced to catch up with Johann.

Imagination Changed The World

Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Inspired by the words of the famous scientist in 2016, I wondered how a young Jewish boy who had a dream became the most important man of our time? Terrified of the monumental task I like Einstein went into my imagination and asked questions. What if Einstein’s soul was from the ancient land of Atlantis? What if he was a priest-scientist in Atlantis? Maybe he was trying to remember what he did back then? In my research of young Albert, I discovered his father gave him a compass when he was six years old. When the boy looked at the compass, the directional device became his life’s mission to know what is time and light. I wondered what if the compass had supernatural powers? Again in my research, I found King Solomon in the Bible used the Shamir Stone to build his Temple. I put the Shamir inside the compass. So I continued to weave Einstein’s history with historical facts and added a fantasy of supernatural beings who assisted him against evil forces. Creativity and imagination are powerful tools when creating stories. The message of Einsteins Compass is to use your spiritual heart, your imagination, to find your way.

Spring 1891

Uncle Jakob found the twelve-year-old Albert sitting at the kitchen table, drawing triangles, again. Jacob was the youngest of five siblings.

Unlike Albert’s father, Hermann, Jakob had pursued higher education and had qualified as an engineer. Hermann had not resented his brother’s opportunity, and together the two brothers built a successful company providing generators and electrical lighting to municipalities in southern Germany. Jakob oversaw the technical side while Hermann handled sales. Perhaps more essential to the partnership, Hermann could secure loans from his wife’s side of the family.

Albert regularly put Jakob’s training and knowledge to the test, who had an inexhaustible supply of questions. One day he was asking for details on how the generators worked. Then he had to know about the capacity of the wires that ran to the lighting fixtures. Most of all, Albert wanted to learn about light. But recently, geometry had become his focus.

“I see geometric shapes have captured your attention, nephew.”

Albert nodded, his bright eyes eager. “Somehow, triangles seem to blend nature and science. I even see geometric designs in the flowers in the garden.”

Jakob raised an eyebrow as he pulled up a chair across from his precocious nephew. “Hmm. Well, have you ever heard of Pythagoras?”

Albert reflected for a moment. “The name is familiar,” he said hesitantly. “But I don’t remember who he is.” The look on Albert’s face let Jakob know Albert wanted to know more.

Leaning forward, the learned man explained, “Pythagoras was a Greek mathematician who lived between 569 and 475 BC. He is sometimes called the first mathematician, meaning he was one of the first scientists on record to have made significant contributions to the field of mathematics.” As Albert nodded, Jakob continued. “He was more than just a mathematician, though; he studied and worked with religion and philosophy. Also, he was also a musician; he played the lyre.”

Albert’s hazel eyes danced with curiosity. “Now that’s a man I would like to know more about!”

Jakob smiled and beckoned Albert to follow him to a nearby bookcase. After searching for a moment, he pulled a small book from the shelf and handed it to the boy. “When I saw you drawing triangles the other day, I knew it would not be long before you would want to explore the mystery of Pythagoras and his theories.”

Albert grabbed the book and marched back to the table. He did not even notice Uncle Jakob had left, smiling and shaking his head. “Give that boy a book, and it is like tossing a sponge into a pail of water. He absorbs every drop of knowledge,” he muttered to himself, walking out the door.

The house was quiet as a church as Albert lost himself in the book on Pythagoras. Warm summer winds blew the yellow cotton curtains, and they flapped through the open window over the kitchen sink. The young mathematician’s feet dangled from the wood-and-thatched chair at the rectangular table topped with butcher block. As he read, he realized that his uncle Jakob had given him his first real intellectual puzzle. Deep in thought, Albert was unaware that he had almost chewed through his pencil as he stared at the diagram of a right triangle. His eyebrows drawing closer and closer together as he read, Albert became determined to prove the Pythagorean theorem.

Losing himself in his contemplation, Albert absentmindedly began playing with his compass as he turned pages in the book. He would read a few paragraphs and then gaze at the compass face, letting his mind wander in speculation. There was no way for him to know that the energy of the compass took his mind beyond space and time. Albert was far away, and unaware of where he was as triangles of all shapes and sizes danced in his imagination. He was determined to meet this challenge and prove the theory. Albert did not tell anyone what he was working on.

By the second week of intense focus, Albert’s theories were swirling round and round in his head. Finally, on a Friday, wild with excitement, he sat filling a sheet of paper with cryptic drawings and numbers so furiously, the pencil lead broke. His hand twitching, he stared at the torn paper and broken pencil. He screamed, wadded up the paper with his shaking hands and threw it across the room. The budding scientist put his head down on the table and sobbed.

His mother, Pauline, rushed from the stove where she had been stirring the stew for the evening dinner. With a glance, she surmised what had happened. She knelt and put a comforting arm across her son’s shoulder. “Now, now, Albert. It’s okay.”

Albert turned and buried himself in his mother’s hug. “It’s not okay, Mama. There is a way to prove this theorem, but I can’t find it.” It still pinched his face with anger as he spoke.

Pauline thought for a moment, then brightened. “You need a break. Do something else.”

“Like what, Mama?”

Pauline shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe play your violin. You know how music soothes you and clears your head.”

Gently tugging at the frowning boy, Pauline urged him from his seat. “Come, Albert. Invite Johann. The two of you could practice the Mozart Sonata for the recital at school next month.”

Albert didn’t want to see anyone. He was stuck. He was getting nowhere. His mother’s words reminded him how the family loved the recitals the two of them played during the holidays and how music lifted his spirits. And he did enjoy it when Johann joined in from time to time. Sighing in resignation, the young mathematician surrendered. “Oh, all right, I will get Johann.”

* * *

“Wow, did your pet goldfish die or something, Albert? You look terrible!” Johann shook his head in disapproval as his friend led him through the front door.

Despite himself, Albert had to smile at Johann’s cheerfulness. “Ah, I’m just stuck on a problem and don’t know how to get out of it.” Albert waved his arm as if to brush away his vexation. He was still hiding his mission and didn’t even want his good friend to know what he was pursuing. Albert ushered Johann into the parlor. “My mother thinks taking a break will help. We need to practice for the recital, anyway.”

Used to Albert’s moods, Johann nodded. “Okay, I can practice for an hour. My father needs me at the alehouse to help serve the evening meal.” He wiped his hands on his lederhosen and sat on the wooden piano bench, his legs stuffed under the piano, and shuffled the sheet music on the music stand. Albert had already memorized the piece, so he readied his violin as he stood next to Johann.

After fifteen minutes of stops and starts to refine their duet, the notes sparkled. The music’s sweetness seeped into Albert’s troubled heart. He closed his eyes and, like fireworks, a burst of triangles within the notes flew in rhythm across his violin. His imagination blossomed and flowed with new ideas as Albert opened to additional dimensions inside himself.

After another thirty minutes of playing, Albert had regained a sense of peace—as well as a new enthusiasm for his project. Albert fidgeted with his brow. He urged Johann to his feet and helped him on with his jacket. “It’s good, Johann, we’re ready for our recital,” Albert pronounced, propelling Johann to the door.

Attempting to straighten his jacket amid the hustle, Johann said, “Well, I guess we are ready.” Then Johann dug in his feet and turned to Albert, hiding a grin. “But are you sure you wouldn’t like to practice a few more times? I could stay a couple more minutes…”

“No, no, I am certain we are ready. Hurry now, I don’t want you to be late for work,” Albert replied, almost slamming the door shut and utterly oblivious to the fact that Johann knew precisely what Albert was up to. On the porch, Johann smiled and shook his head as he turned to walk back to the alehouse. He had grown to love Albert and, truth be told, he was happy that his friend had regained his happiness.

With the breakthrough in awareness he had gained when he and Johann had been playing the Mozart piece, Albert became more confident as he worked over the next days. And with the confidence came serenity. The boy would awaken each morning with awareness of the music of the Pythagorean theorem dancing in his imagination. It was as if he was viewing the mathematics of it in its completeness from high above. And he knew he would find its temporarily elusive proof.

Einstein’s Compass – The Right Pace

When pacing the story and controlling the rhythm of events in Einstein’s Compass, I chose a fast speed. Each chapter like in a movie has a beginning, middle and end often with a cliffhanger. In this chapter, evil Raka’s Transformation opens with a colorful scene in time. The revelation of a dead body in the snow. Next, Raka eating the young man. I like how Hemingway used brief sentences, so I used his technique of an explicit narrative. I listen to music as I write and ride the sound and beat out the words. Wrapping myself in the story, I follow intuitively where my characters want to go. Raka surprised me of how manipulative, lazy and evil he is. I could not hold back or question what happened with any of the story. I laughed, cried and felt myself in another world. Yet pacing was important to keep readers engaged to turn the page.

Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure

Raka’s Transformation

The headline in the Stuttgart Zeitung newspaper read,


A search is underway for a young man who has disappeared in the Black Forest community of Stuttgart, southeast of Munich. He was last seen walking to university. The Black Forest Police have mounted an extensive search, though an early winter storm is expected to bring up to two inches of snow and freezing temperatures.

With a contented sigh, Raka wiped the last of the blond man’s blood from his jaw. He had gorged on the bright, pure essence of a young human to step up his energetic matrix, which had degraded when he had become reptilian.

Raka had been surreptitiously observing the locals for weeks now, learning modern ways and studying their language. During that time, he had found an abandoned shack and furnished his cave with things inside of it that he would need when in human guise: a chair, table, and bed. In the dead of night, he had broken into the home of a well-to-do bachelor and relieved the puny human of some of his garments as he slept. Now, having consumed a human to regenerate the needed DNA, he was finally ready to make his transformation.

With a shudder, then a lurch, he began to shift. The claws of his feet became soft as human toes appeared. Hairy male legs replaced his stubby reptilian hind appendages, and his tail receded back into his body. Scales from his torso, arms, and neck melted into pink flesh. His long, slithery tongue withered until it could extend a scant inch or two beyond his lips. As he morphed, his airways constricted, and he grabbed at his throat, gasping for air. Writhing in ecstatic agony, then surrendering to the pain of bone, sinew, and flesh reconfiguring itself, he collapsed to the ground. Naked, he lay as motionless as death as he recovered from the ordeal.

Sometime later, Raka woke crunched in a fetal position and took in a breath. He had not been in human form for a very long time.

He slowly opened his eyes. The candlelight in the cave seemed dim to his human senses. Raka rolled onto all fours, then straightened his back, so he was kneeling on the hard rock of the cave floor. He explored his new weak and wingless form with soft, fleshy hands. He felt vulnerable. His appraisal complete, he gathered the strength of the anemic body and stood. The blood rushed from his head, and he stumbled sideways. He flung out an arm, seeking support, and braced himself on the cave wall, then staggered to a tattered armchair and sat with a thud.

The resulting cloud of dust set him coughing, and he cursed the frailty of humans. After a moment, he forced himself to stand again. This time, he maintained his equilibrium. No time to waste; he must dress and get going!

As a changeling, he was still able to keep the reptile glands in his throat. Rubbing them stimulated his adrenaline and made him feel powerful. He spat on his hand and smelled with delight the pungent reptilian saliva. “Potent as ever,” he assessed, somewhat reassured.

Near the chair was a single bed with his new clothes. Struggling to master the musculature of this form he had not occupied for so long, he put on the pants, shirt, and jacket “liberated,” and nodded in satisfaction as he slightly lengthened his legs and shortened his arms, so the garments fit perfectly. He also decided to alter his facial structure just enough that he would not be taken for the young man whose body he now inhabited. He had no interest in encountering people the fellow had known.

Completing his transformation and putting on the last of his clothing, Raka prepared for his first foray in this incarnation. He had no idea of how to knot the ridiculous piece of cloth humans called a necktie, so he stuffed it into his inside jacket pocket. Frowning, he muttered, “The dress of the Egyptians was simple. I hate these confining things.”

The thought of Egypt reminded Raka of how he had manipulated Pharaoh Akhenaten’s court. He smiled as he remembered deceiving the priests by promising them power if they would abandon the prophet of the One God. He recalled the delight he had experienced watching the duplicitous fools, Akhenaten’s closest friends, murder the Egyptian king while he meditated.

Bringing himself out of his reverie, Raka went over to a wooden chest that contained one of his most prized possessions. It was something he’d had fabricated in another time and place, during one of his earlier forays in human form. Opening the finely crafted box, he picked up an ornate walking stick. Its handle was a dragon head of pure gold. A pair of flawless rubies was crafted to make fierce, glowing eyes, not unlike his own when he was in reptilian form.

The stick not only steadied him as he walked but had a hollow chamber hidden in its tip. Should he press on the ruby eyes in a certain way, the stick would transform into a weapon that would eject needles coated with his reptilian venom into his victim. He nodded in satisfaction at the craftsmanship. He had paid a fortune for the piece, but it was well worth it.

By human standards, he was a handsome blond male in his early thirties. Donning an ebony Homburg hat, Raka gazed at himself in the mirror near the bed. Familiarizing himself again with the muscles of his stubby human tongue, he practiced the new language.

When he felt he had mastered the new words, he went through the entire performance. His charismatic blue eyes twinkling, he touched his Homburg with his right hand. In flawless German, he spoke the greeting he had observed. “Hello, my name is Rudolf. How do you do?”

Raka grunted in satisfaction with his accomplishment. He was ready for his mission. Tilting his head, the dark angel sniffed to discern the scent of the Shamir Stone’s power. In just a moment, he had identified the direction and set off at a brisk walk.

He reminded himself that his mission could take years. After all, there were cosmic laws that had to be observed. It wasn’t as if he could just locate the Shamir, murder its possessor, and walk away. No, the ways of the universe were not quite that simple.

No matter. Raka would amuse himself meddling in the affairs of these humans until he could manipulate things to his advantage.

He could be patient. After all, he had… all the time in the world.