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Another wonderful review for Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady. Amanda and I are very pleased everyone is enjoying the book.

Wordy Witterings

I read about this novel on a book blog and was intrigued – it sounded just like the kind of thing that my 9-year-old daughter would enjoy reading. I’m pleased to say that since I’ve read ‘Amanda in Malta’, I’ve told her all about it and she can’t wait to not only read this novel, but the whole series. She wants to start with those featuring countries that she’s been to herself, and now has a very full Amazon wish list!

In ‘Amanda in Malta’, the lead character goes on holiday to Malta and gets involved in the mystery of a 4000 year old figurine that goes missing from a museum. The unique feature of this book, it that in reading it children will learn so much about the country that it features. The characters visit a range of Malta’s places of interest, both those on the common tourist trail…

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My eighth book in the Amanda Travels series, Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady, is set to be launched on May 11th and I am as excited and nervous as if it was my first book. A writer puts so much time, energy and emotion into a book, it really is like birthing a baby. And there is always the self doubt and nagging questions. What if no one likes this one? What if I´ve lost the ability to create a good story? What if no one buys it? What if the reviews are bad or nonexistent?

I am delighted to see that the early reviews, from the book being on NetGalley, have been positive.

Here are snippets of the reviews on Goodreads so far that have made my heart dance.

Author Darlene Foster has such a great way to tell a story and impart information about a location at the same time that I found myself thinking “Hey- I want to go to Malta!”. Beth

Armchair travel has never been so exciting! I love the author’s ability to bring the settings alive, from the Blue Grotto to a beautiful cathedral in Valletta, all while keeping the suspense high. Jacquie – Click on her blog for more of the review https://jacqbiggar.com/2021/04/05/bookreview-amanda-in-malta-by-darlene-foster-travel-mystery-supermegawoman/

This is a lovely middle grade novel that whisks you away to the island of Malta. I’ve never been but have heard a lot of rave stories about Malta and Amanda in Malta made me want to visit! MJ – Click on her blog for more of the review https://mjmallon.com/2021/04/05/book-review-amanda-in-malta-by-darlene-foster-supermegawoman-netgalley-book-review/

Darlene Foster’s Amanda is what I wish I’d had the courage to be as a tween: adventurous and well-traveled, making friends easily wherever she goes. Molly

The Blue Lagoon in Malta

Since I am unable to hop on a plane and do a book launch and tour in Canada, as I usually do, I have decided to do a blog launch/virtual tour. This is the first time I´ve done this. What I need are bloggers who would be willing to be part of the tour. If you are interested, let me know by email, darlene.foster@telus.net and I´ll send you the information. I´ll make it as easy as possible and hopefully we will all have fun. The goal is to get the word out about my book to as many readers as possible and to drive some traffic to your blog at the same time.

The YouTube trailer.

Thank you to everyone who has left a review. I really appreciate it.

The book is still available on NetGalley.

I am pleased to feature Mike Biles from A Bit About Britain (ABAB). Since we can’t travel right now, and who knows will we will be able to again, it’s good to read travel blogs. ABAB features great articles about fascinating places in Britian, a small island with an immense history and fabulous places to visit.

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Firstly, thank you so much for inviting me onto Darlene Foster’s Blog, Darlene. I will try to behave.

A bit about myself? Well, I was born, at a very young age, atop a remote, windswept, tower one dark night in a thunderstorm.  The lights flickered at the appropriate moment. A surprisingly uneventful childhood was then spent in the deep South of England, followed by a slightly more exciting spell at university in the Midlands (history and a post-grad teaching certificate) with more than two fairly serious decades thereafter in and around London.  I am now exiled in the frozen north, surrounded by moss and flat vowels.  It’s a cliché to say that I always enjoyed writing, though for many years, whilst running my own business, this was mostly limited to tedious documents like project plans, specifications and contracts.  Along the way, I conspicuously failed to become world tiddly-winks champion; but I have maintained a life-long love of Britain, history, idle scribbling, beer and conversation.  I also enjoy a good movie and would be lost without music.

  • You have such an interesting blog. How long have you been blogging and what inspired you to start your blog?

Thank you! A Bit About Britain was conceived some time ago and trundled along quite happily for a year or three as a kind of hobby, but the current website https://bitaboutbritain.com/ was launched in 2016. In some ways, the inspiration had always been there, because a love of heritage attractions and good stories had been drip-fed into me.  But, staying at various places around the country for work, I often found myself falling into conversation with people about local places of interest and began thinking about creating some kind of independent online database for visitors.  Much of the information out there at the time seemed rather partisan, often with pompous articles at one extreme, sometimes vacuous ones at the other and occasionally written by people who didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.  I had no idea to start a blog, but perceived a gap for an unbiased, accurate, resource that didn’t always take itself too seriously, and arrogantly thought I may be able to fill it – somehow.  Of course, it’s not that easy, it is a hopelessly ambitious aspiration – and I’m also lousy at the technical stuff; but we try.

  • Tell us about your books and how they came about.

Ah, well. The first one, A Bit About Britain’s History, pretty much had to be written in some form before the website was launched.  If you’re banging on about places to visit, particularly castles, stately homes and what-not, a little context is helpful. So I created a potted history of Britain and the book ripened from there.  It is not a tough read; I like to think of it as accessible history, from prehistoric to modern times, neatly pitched somewhere between arcane academia and dumb drivel.  It could probably do with more illustrations, but it does contain three maps and offers a respectable introduction to Britain’s story if you don’t know the subject, a refresher if you weren’t paying attention at school – and the context that visitors need.  Some very kind people (let’s hope the cheques don’t bounce) have even said it should be in school libraries, to give an idea how the topics studied as part of a curriculum fit into the bigger picture.

The second book, A Bit about Britain’s High Days and Holidays, has a similar pedigree. The website features articles about Christmas, Easter and other occasions. The book explores a baker’s dozen of these notable annual celebrations, or commemorations, their origins and the traditions associated with them. For good measure, it includes a couple of recipes, an A-Z of Christmas and a list of Britain’s Big Days – the events that normally form part of our calendar, some mainstream, some obscure, through Spring to Winter. It’s the kind of book I hope people might like to have on their bookshelves; I know I would.

Available on all Amazon sites
https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Biles/e/B07W928W23/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mike-Biles/e/B07W928W23/

In your opinion, what is the most fascinating place in the UK and what makes it so?

That is a very good question, but almost impossible to answer.  I can get fascinated among a pile of stones, imagining children playing thereabouts thousands of years ago.  I find multi-layered places, where the stories almost pile one on top of the other, absorbing. At Wallsend (literally, at the end of Hadrian’s Wall), for example, is the site of the Roman fort of Segedunum. After the Romans, the area reverted to agriculture; later, coal mining arrived; then shipbuilding – and a whole community around that. They built some of the biggest ships in the world there.  Now that community has vanished too and we’re left with the outline of the Roman fort.  Or Fotheringhay – tumble-down deserted birthplace of Richard III and the site of Mary, Queen of Scots’ execution.  Places where big history-changing events took place and your imagination can run riot, such as Hastings and Bosworth, are fascinating and it takes no effort to get captivated by the atmosphere of sites like prehistoric Avebury and the Anglo-Saxon burials at Sutton Hoo – both of those places fit my ‘multi-layered’ description, actually. Come to think of it, I also got extremely excited on the trail of The Beatles in Liverpool; like a kid in a chocolate factory. So – tough question.

But I guess, if forced to choose just one fascinating place in the UK, it would – reluctantly – be London.  ‘Reluctant’, because everybody goes to London, there is so much to see beyond its boundaries that visitors miss and London is so untypical of the rest of the UK.  However, there really is so much in and about our capital; and not only the obvious must-see attractions and museums, excellent though many of them are. The place has a two-thousand-year history with intriguing tales and obscure facts lurking everywhere you go, round every corner, behind the street names, plaques on walls, statues, memorials, churches, pubs, wonderful parks, squares and traditions. If you’re of a curious mind, it’s a hard place to be bored in, that’s for sure.

  • Is there some place you have not yet visited that you would love to see?

Er – how long have you got?!  I will never finish exploring Britain; there simply isn’t time.  I need to visit the west more: the lovely border country between England and Wales, Wales itself (did you know it has a designated path all the way round its coast?) and the West Country. I have been to them all – just not enough. One thing I have never done, but have long-wanted to do, is island-hop off the west coast of Scotland – and I’d also love to visit Orkney and Shetland too. Rumour has it that some of my ancestors came from Caithness, so it would be great to go there as well; perhaps drive the North Coast 500 route, the circuit around Scotland’s North Highlands; fabulous! Think dodgy single-track roads, wild scenery, stunning beaches, remote castles, legends and malt whisky. This is all subject to Head Office approval, of course; much depends on the incredibly tolerant, long-suffering, Mrs Britain.

  • Do you feel that reading about travel destinations will help us get through this time of pandemic, when we can no longer travel freely?

Yes, I think so.  Frankly, pretty much any reading is helpful, and a gift – as is the Internet, for all its faults and dangers. The pandemic forced western society to change its priorities and it’s certainly been an opportunity for many to take stock and learn, to ease the path through odd, and awful, times, without going anywhere.  So, there is the chance for those that can to look around, get some background, soak up the stories behind places, and plan.  But we do need to be phlegmatic and remember that the world waits beyond the boundaries of our personal lockdowns, that it’s been there for a very long time indeed and it’s not going anywhere.  It doesn’t help to get all emotional about what you cannot do, how terrible you believe the restrictions are, and so on.  It is not only pointless, but some people don’t have that luxury.  And don’t get me started on the flat-earth conspiracy theorists!

  • What is your next writing project?

There are big plans for the website, but I’m painfully slow.  Book-wise, it is hoped to bring out at least one further volume of ‘A Bit about Britain’s something or other’ before I shuffle off this mortal coil. My follower will be the second (or maybe the third) to know!

Thanks so much, Mike, for this informative and entertaining interview. If you want to do some armchair travel or start planning that next trip for when we can travel:

check out Mike’s Blog https://bitaboutbritain.com/

his books https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Biles/e/B07W928W23/

follow him on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19553725.Mike_Biles

Bette Frisch: December 25th, 1928 to March 17th, 2021

My heart is broken as I recently lost my dear sweet mom. I know she is at peace and with my dad and brother, but I will miss seeing her smiling face forever. Due to Covid, I was not able to say goodbye or be with the family at the small graveside service in Canada, which was very upsetting. However, I have many good memories that bring me much comfort. As my daughter said, she showed us what unconditional love looked like.

Mom was a Christmas baby, born December 25th, 1928 at Hilda, Alberta, the oldest of six children. She first attended school at Echodale where her Aunt Beth was the teacher. She enjoyed school and was a good student. She met the love of her life, Herb Frisch, at a local dance and married him on October 2, 1947. They were married for 59 years, until his passing in 2007. Family was everything to Mom. She devoted her life to looking after everyone, even those not part of our family. She was an excellent cook, baker, seamstress, knitter and gardener. Everyone loved her kuchen and perogies. Her traditional German food was delicious, but she was not afraid to try new recipes. Her Christmas dinners and branding party spreads are legendary. Her home was always open to guests, and she could whip up a fabulous meal for unexpected visitors with little effort. No one left her house hungry. Mom worked hard on the farm, milking cows, feeding pigs and chickens, making her own butter, bread, jams and preserves, and tending a large vegetable garden. Every night before bed, she wrote in her journal, documenting the days activities. Her strong faith sustained her throughout her life especially during times of great sorrow. She was an active member of the United Church of Canada, where she taught Sunday school, was a CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training) leader and belonged to the UCW (United Church Women) for many years.

Mom loved Tim Horton’s ice caps, nice clothes, dancing with dad, playing scrabble with Aunt Barbara and reading my books. But most of all, she loved all of us. She had four children, three grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren, as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and people she made to feel like part of the family.

Here is what one cousin had to say about her after hearing of her passing:

Bette – Small but mighty…she moved with quick, efficient steps in the kitchen, a tea towel over one shoulder while scraping the cake batter from mixing bowl to baking pan – another coffee cake ready to bake! Herb and Bette’s home was home for so many of us! She welcomed all of us! Always fun and laughter, warmth and love. That short 35 minute drive out for just the day or a three-night sleep over! Or those gatherings in Elkwater for a day-long picnic. Or visits to our house after getting grocery – the ice cream was always brought in to the freezer so they could stay for supper! Oh silly memories, but they mean so much! 

Another cousin had this to say:

Our family visited the Frisch’s farm many times when I was a child and my brother and I would stay a few days each summer. Bette and Herb were always welcoming and hospitable. Being able to experience a mixed farming operation and seeing how Bette and Herb embraced this lifestyle of hard work was a positive influence. Bette was always friendly and always answered her younger cousins’ questions about the farm.

And from two nieces:

I have such amazing memories of Auntie Bette. She was a true gem and never missed a birthday. Even when we got funny gifts! We were blessed to have such a beautiful person in our lives.

Aunty Bette is definitely an important part of my life – childhood memories on the farm shelling washtubs full of peas, riding horses, wonderful meals and evening cards or games with snacks before bedtime!

And from one of her former CGIT members:

Betty was a wonderful lady and mentor for me in my youth. 

A sweet and kind woman who will be missed by many. May you fly with the angels, Mom. 

Here is a video I created with a collection of pictures from mom´s life.

There are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest if the three is love. 1 Corinthians 13, 13

A fabulous early review of Amanda’s latest adventure that has made my day! Thanks By Hook Or By Book.

By Hook Or By Book

B14C7669-C775-418C-A092-ED65C99705E9Thanks to NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: May 11th, 2021

128 Pages

Synopsis: Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.

Amanda is intrigued with this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colorful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?

Join Amanda and her friends as the visit ancient temples, an exciting falconry, and the enchanting Popeye Village, as they…

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It’s six weeks until the release of Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady and I’m getting excited.

Here is what early readers have had to say about Amanda’s latest adventure:

“A missing friend, a mysterious boy . . . Amanda’s holiday on the island of Malta takes you on a fast-paced adventure through ancient forts and fishing villages, sea caves and spooky castles. A real page-turner!”


“I love how the author mixes creativity, imagination and cultural appreciation in her writing – for minds of all ages!”


“Middle-grade readers will be drawn in by the action, pulled forward by the mystery, and absorbed by the colourful backdrop of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean.” 

Amanda in Malta, the eigth book in the series, is now available on NetGalley if you would like a free advanced reading copy and are willing to write a review.

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/?text=Amanda+in+Malta

Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.


Amanda is intrigued by this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colourful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?

Join Amanda and her friends as they visit ancient temples, an exciting falconry and the enchanting Popeye Village, as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Sleeping Lady.

Check out the trailer I’ve created.

Please share and let your friends know. Thanks!

I am a guest over at the wonderful blogsite, A Bit About Britain. Thanks, Mike for this opportunity to share my love for this amazing city.

A Bit About Britain is delighted to welcome author and traveller Darlene Foster, as a guest writer explaining her affection for the city of York.

Shambles, York

The charming city of York in North East England is steeped in over two thousand years of history, harbouring many stories within its ancient walls.

Forty-four years ago, my first airplane trip took me from my home in Alberta, Canada to York, England to marry my Yorkshire hubby. I fell in love with the city, walked the medieval walls, visited the fascinating museums and enjoyed tea and cream cakes at the many teashops. At the end of my month-long stay, I gave friends from Felixstowe a guided tour of my favourite city. I have returned several times and it never disappoints.

Eboracum, the name the Romans gave the city, was the capital of the Northern part of what we know as England, two thousand years ago. Parts of the sturdy walls built by the industrious Romans still stand. I love walking the medieval walls that surround the old part of the city, offering fabulous views and photo ops. I believe anytime is a good time to visit, but my favourite time is in the spring when cheerful daffodils grow along these ancient walls.

It was also the capital of a Viking Kingdom later in the 9th/10th centuries, when it was called Jorvik. Many York residents can trace their DNA to Viking roots. A visit to the Jorvik Viking Centre is a must.  

Read the rest of the article here

I am honoured to be featured on Tea Toast & Trivia where I am interviewed by Rebecca Budd. It is my first podcast, so I would love to know what you think of it.

A heartfelt post about the importance of words by my friend Sue Vincent. You may need a tissue close by.

France & Vincent

gardenand stuff 4701

Words matter to us. Those that are said, those that are not said. The precision of a phrase, the use of one word rather than another can make all the difference to how we feel about something or someone. Often they make even more difference to the way we feel about ourselves. Words can be a source of revelation or cause misunderstanding. They can give deep comfort and beauty and the lack of a word can cause just as great a pain as the wrong ones spoken. A thoughtless phrase thrown out in temper can stay with a child a lifetime, holding it back, just as the right words can inspire confidence. Yet most of the time we take them for granted and barely even notice them on a conscious level.

Yesterday a friend posted a story on Facebook. I have no idea whether or not it is true. I…

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I was excited to be interviewed by accomplished author Molly Ringle on her blog where she features, Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady. This book will be launched on May 11th, 2021. I also give some advice to aspiring travellers.

Check out Molly´s blog where she offers editing and proofreading services.

https://mollyringle.livejournal.com/

https://mollyringle.com/editing-and-proofreading.html

Molly is an excellent editor with a keen eye for details. She edited my latest book and now I have a clean copy I’m proud of. I highly recommend her services. 

Guest feature: author Darlene Foster takes us to Malta! by Molly Ringle

It’s been too long since I’ve brought on another author for Q&A, and I’m pleased to be doing so again with Darlene Foster! I met Darlene (in an online sense) through our publisher in common, Central Avenue Publishing, and she’s one of the most upbeat, easygoing, fun-loving writers I know. Her Amanda Travels series is a wonderful set of books for middle-grade readers in which the young Amanda visits a new country in each book and always encounters an adventurous mystery to untangle. They’re perfect for the young armchair traveler—or real-world traveler—in your life.

Author Darlene Foster
Author Darlene Foster

The eighth book in the series comes out this May: Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady. I got to read an advance copy of it, and was instantly longing to go to Malta and soak up the sun and stroll between the stone buildings with their artistically idiosyncratic door knockers! 

Cover for the book Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady
Cover for the book Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady

Darlene was kind enough to answer some questions for me as well, so let’s dive into those:

Q: When did you start writing fiction? What were your earliest stories like?

A: I’ve been telling stories since I learned to talk. My grade three teacher, Miss Roll, encouraged me to write them down. When I was twelve years old I had a short story published in a local newspaper. Called Stretch Your Food Dollar, it was about two friends having an adventure in Woolworths department store. I guess the idea of two girls having an adventure has been there for a long time! 

Q: When you visit places, how much are you thinking about a possible story while you’re there? Or does the story idea come later?

A: When I visit interesting places, I am always thinking about how I could use it in a story. When I was in Malta, I kept saying to my husband, “Amanda would love it here!” I take a lot of pictures and jot down notes wherever we go. I once read that a writer never really takes a vacation as they are always looking for story ideas. I can attest that is true.  

Q: What draws you to writing middle-grade fiction as opposed to stories for other age groups?

A: Some would say I have never moved past twelve myself! For some reason, I can easily relate to this age group. I think they are wonderful. Tweens are not little kids anymore but not yet terrible teenagers. They can be so astute and mature at times but still naïve and unsure of themselves at other times. It is the age when they start to assert their independence and become curious and questioning. It is my favourite age and I have no intention of growing up. 

Q: I admire Amanda’s fearlessness and willing to take on adventures. Is that what you were like at her age?

A: It wasn’t what I was like, but it was what I wished I was like. I lived on a farm and we didn’t travel or have a television. So my world was very narrow. I was timid, bookish, and the only adventures I had were in my imagination. So I created a character I would have liked to be. 

Q: Give some advice to the aspiring travelers of the world: what are your must-bring items that lend to happier traveling?

A: The most important thing to bring is an open mind. Accept that things will be different wherever you go, the food, smells, people, climate, customs, etc. Embrace those differences and you will have an enjoyable and enriching time. Also bring a camera, a notepad, and pen. Everything will be overwhelming and you will never be able to remember it all. Pictures and notes bring it all back. I would rather look at my travel photos than watch TV. 

Q: What are you writing now, or planning to write next?

A: I am halfway through writing Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral. Amanda will fall in love with Paris, Versailles, and Monet’s garden in Giverny. Oh, and she will get to stay in a bookstore! Wouldn’t every young girl like to visit France? I know I would have loved it.  

—-

Darlene Foster is a Canadian author who has written the popular Amanda Travels series, featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places where she encounters mystery and adventure while learning about another culture. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in various countries. Darlene has won prizes for her short stories and a number of them have been published in anthologies. She has also written a bilingual book for English/Spanish readers.

Darlene grew up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where her love of reading inspired her to travel the world and write stories. Over the years she held wonderful jobs such as an employment counsellor, ESL teacher, recruiter, and retail manager, and wrote whenever she had a few spare minutes. She is now retired and has a home in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she likes to spend time with her husband and entertaining dog, Dot.

Her books include Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain: The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England: The Missing Novel, Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone, Amanda on The Danube: The Sounds of Music, Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind, and Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action. 

Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady will be released in the spring of 2021. 

Buy links

Amazon Canada here

Amazon UK here 

Amazon US here 

Barnes and Noble here

Chapters/Indigo here

Thanks, Molly for the great interview.


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