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A great post featuring articles from people in various parts of the world and how they are dealing with the pandemic. Proof that we are all in this together, and globally we will get through it. My article about our little corner of Spain is included. Let us know how you are doing as well. Stay safe!

Empty beaches. Photo credit Darlene Foster

Views of COVID 19 – Thailand, Mexico, Spain and Australia

by Sue Slaght

In a time when our personal worlds have shrunk and we remain at home as much as possible, we wonder what are others experiencing? With gratitude, we begin a series on views of COVID 19, featuring friends, writers, photographers and acquaintances from around the world. 

My books are being featured on John Rieber’s amazing blog! How exciting.

johnrieber

Join Amanda On A World Of Adventure!

Look at this terrific series of books written for middle-school aged minds – filled with mystery and wonder, all focused on one young girl who travels the world!

“Amanda” Has The Best Adventures!

Author Darlene Foster is an active voice on social media, and an accomplished writer as well, with a series of novels that share the worldwide adventures of 12 year old Amanda Ross!

This “Wednesday Bookmobile” highlights Foster’s series of novels featuring Amanda!

As Foster’s bio states:

Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places. Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda…

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Since we can’t visit friends and family right now, I’m happy to share a virtual visit with Linda at Linda’s Book Bag. We had a nice chat and a delicious snack. Remember, my books are 30% off at http://www.ipgbooks.com until April 5th.

Linda's Book Bag

Amanda in Holland

In two days it’ll be exactly a year since I last stayed in with Darlene Foster when we chatted on Linda’s Book Baghere about her children’s book Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind. Little did I know when I first decided to run ‘staying in’ posts that we’d all be doing it in real life, never mind virtually!

mexico cover

With Darlene’s stories transporting young readers all over the world from the safety of their own homes I thought now would be the perfect time to welcome her back to tell me about her latest book.

Staying in with Darlene Foster

Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Darlene and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me again.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Amanda in Holland

I’ve brought Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action

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Do you need books to keep you busy during the lockdown? Sadly many bookstores are closing for the duration of the coronavirus. Reading is an activity we can do safely in the shelter of our homes and gardens. IPG, the distribution company for my books and many other great books, is offering a site-wide discount of 30% on www.ipgbook.com until April 5th to consumers who purchase directly from their website to be delivered to your home address or to the address of someone you wish to gift a book. You may want to check out their website. www.ipgbook.com

Click onto the IPG Bookstore tab and search for specific books or scroll through books in various categories. The promo code is keepcalmandreadon to get your discount at checkout.

This may only be for North American addresses, but I’m not sure.

We don’t want to run out of books during this time of isolation and we need to help keep the book industry afloat.

Happy reading and stay safe!

During a visit to Sedona, Arizona, a few years ago, my daughter and I were intrigued by the horsehair pottery we saw in the wonderful shops there. My potter daughter decided to create some of this pottery herself while I was visiting her last fall. I was privileged to watch this fascinating process. The four pieces turned out well. Here are some pictures of her creating horsehair pottery.

Carefully removing the pot from the kiln
And placing it on a cement slab
Applying the fine horsehair to the hot piece of pottery

Horsehair pottery is pottery that incorporates hair from the manes and tails of horses into its design. The process of creating horsehair pottery involves applying strands of hair to the surface of a hot clay pot that has just been removed from the kiln. The hair carbonizes, leaving random patterns in the pot’s surface. Horsehair makes great patterns because of its coarseness and length. Tail hair is thicker, so it leaves bolder patterns, and finer mane hair produces more subtle lines.

Every pot created using this pottery technique is unique. Many artists add other design features to the horsehair pots they create. Some artists use the same technique with dog or cat hair. For instance, my daughter has used the pet’s hair on urns she has created to hold a dear deceased pet’s ashes.  

The above information is based on information from this website. https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-horsehair-pottery. Check it out to learn more.

Adding more hair
All four vases finished
Each one unique
The finished pieces after waxing

All the pictures were taken by me, the unofficial photographer, except the last picture taken by madmudslinger

For more of my daughter’s work check out her website www.madmudslinger.com

Follow her on Instagram where she posts many pictures of her work https://www.instagram.com/madmudslinger/

Have you seen or heard of horsehair pottery before?

I planned on writing a post about what is happening here in our corner of Spain, but my friend wrote one that says it all. So I am sharing it with you as I couldn’t have summarized it better myself. I love how she ends the post as it is so true. We will all need to be very patient as we work together to deal with this situation.

American writer in Spain

For many years we have been warned by experts that the world was at risk for a pandemic. A deadly virus was only a plane ride away, they said. Well, now that time has come. Government officials here have said you can only go outside if you have a good reason, such a trip to the grocery store to get food or to the pharmacy to get medicine. No more social gatherings. No more going out to eat or drink.

All the activities I do each week have been cancelled. No more book discussion groups, no more choir rehearsals, no more yoga, no more writer’s groups, no more military history presentations. I love to go out and do things and be with other people. So this is going to be hard. My to-do list has shrunk down to how many books I can read. I am about to start reading…

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I’ve been blogging for almost ten years and I love it. It’s a great way to communicate with like-minded people, and I’ve made wonderful friends all over the world through my blog. The blogging community is so supportive, sharing ideas and providing encouragement.

One friend I’ve made is Mary Smith from Dumfries, Scotland. She has written some wonderful books including a guide to her hometown. When I finally get to Scotland, I will be taking this book with me.

She has also written a couple of books based on life in Afghanistan, where she lived and worked for a number of years. This is my review of No More Mulberries.

I bought this book because I love reading stories that take place in the middle east. I was not disappointed. Mary Smith has written a wonderful story about cross-cultures, family, relationships and Afghanistan. The detailed descriptions of the land, people and culture are fascinating. The story is told through the point of view of Miriam, the main character, who is a wife, mother and medical practitioner. It is easy to identify with her as she struggles to maintain a home for her family in a culture so different from her life in Scotland. Miriam also has to deal with ghosts from the past and feelings she has suppressed for too long which are having a negative effect on her marriage. This well-written book takes place in a troubled time just before the Taliban take control. Since the reader knows what will eventually happen, but the characters don’t, it keeps you on your toes and turning the pages. I highly recommend this book.

During a book signing in British Columbia last fall, I had a most pleasant surprise. Mary’s cousin Grace hand-delivered a card from Mary to me! Grace had been in Scotland to visit Mary who knew I would be at a bookstore not too far from where Grace lived, so she sent a card along. How special is that?

What a lovely card, all the way from Scotland
And the perfect poem on the back.

I have asked Mary to be a guest on my blog and answer a few questions.

If you could choose a fictional character to be your best friend, who would you choose and why?

This one stopped me in my tracks, Darlene, and I found it difficult to pick one – so I’m afraid I cheated and chose two. I would have loved to be best friends with Jo March of Little Women. She is such a great character. She, like me, was a tomboy – I climbed trees, went fishing with boys because I didn’t know any girls who wanted to fish. I even played on building sites, climbing over the rafters of half-built houses (which makes me shudder to think about now). I think we’d have egged each other on to do ever more daring things and I think we’d have laughed a lot together. She was strong-willed, determined not to be bound by the conventions of the day. Best of all, she wanted to write. I’d never met a character – a girl at that – in a book who wanted to be a writer and was totally bowled over by this. If Jo could do it – which she did very successfully – then maybe I could, too. I was slightly less impressed with her in Jo’s Boys when she began to only write for family and stopped writing for money, saying “most of us (she was talking about literary women) write too much.” I don’t think my teenage friend Jo would have adopted such an attitude so I’ll go on believing the teenage Jo March and I are best friends.

The cheat of my second one is a bit quirky. I would love to be best friends with Flora. Flora is the main character in a wonderful novel called The Bees by Laline Paul – and Flora is a bee. She is born into the lowest class of the hive but she’s a brave wee thing and survives and thrives, breaking the rules of the hierarchy in what is a compelling thriller about the secret life of the hive. I think we could be great friends, Flora and me.

If you could personally see one natural phenomenon that you have never seen, what would it be and why that one?

I would love to see the Aurora Borealis. Growing up in Scotland I always loved the song, The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, sung so often in school, at ceilidhs, on the radio, in which the lights are described as the “heavenly dancers”. I’ve seen amazing images of the phenomenon on the internet and would love to see it for real.

If you were to be paid to write a book about any subject you wished, what would it be about?

I want to write a biography of a remarkable woman who was a mechanical engineer in the early 1920s. She had an amazing life: supervising thousands of women (who could build anything from a bicycle to a battleship) at Barrow-in-Furness during the First World War, running a car factory, which employed mainly women, taking part in car racing trials and then establishing a hugely successful steam laundry – they laundered the uniforms of the soldiers who took part in the D-Day Landings. I have done some research but it would be lovely to be paid to do further research and writing the book.

Tell us about your next writing project.

Well, until I’m offered a nice advance to write about my woman engineer, my current project is turning the material on my blog, My Dad’s a Goldfish, into a memoir. My father had dementia, bad enough in itself, but his wife of forty years decided she wanted a peaceful life and left him, just at the time he most needed stability and continuity in his life. I moved in with him and started the blog as a way of recording events – and to keep my writing muscle working – and from feedback it seems all sorts of people would be interested in reading it as a book. It’s not in any way a ‘misery memoir’ – it has a lot of humour – but it does tell it like it is, from finding way to engage my father’s interest in life to dealing with him cheating at dominoes, from dealing with what it’s like to have to wipe your father’s bum to sharing his joy in the countryside.

Mary Smith

A brief bio

Born on the island of Islay but grew up in Dumfries & Galloway from the age of seven. After school had a miserable year working in a bank, went hitchhiking round France and Italy, came back and worked for Oxfam for ten years. Went for a holiday to Pakistan and found a job so the next ten years were spent first in Pakistan then in Afghanistan working for an aid organisation. A freelance journalist, I also write poetry, fiction and non-fiction including local history.

Social media links including Amazon.

Website: www.marysmith.co.uk

Blogs: My Dad’s a Goldfish   https://marysmith57.wordpress.com

Mary Smith’s Place    https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com

Amazon Page US: http://amzn.to/2ecvjbP

Amazon Page UK: http://amzn.to/2jGw9A9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marysmithwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000934032543

Thanks for answering my questions, Mary. I would love to be friends with Jo March as well. And thanks for being my blogging friend. I’m sure we will meet in person one day soon. Good luck with your writing projects.

Check out Mary’s blog where she is writing a fascinating series of posts about her experiences in Afghanistan. https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com/


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© Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.