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A great post on the importance of reading, that made me think of the books I read as a child and how they influenced my life.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

In celebration of the imminent release of Jessica Norrie’s new book on July 22nd, I will be sharing her literary column posts again every fortnight over the summer. More about The Magic Carpet later in the post.

Reading from the very start

What is the beginning?

Before I wrote fiction and blogged, I was a translator, teacher and teacher trainer, with students ranging from 3 – 80+. I learned if a child learns young enough to appreciate different points of view through reading stories, the habit ebbs and flows but is never quite lost, with huge repercussions for how their lives develop.

Non-fiction can be told as stories too. The beginnings are usually clear, the plotting goes all over the place, the ends may be murky, but there’s always a story in there somewhere. It may be obvious – Henry VIII and his six wives, Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Ghandhi. Sometimes…

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I am honoured to be featured on Nora Colvin’s blog where I discuss my school days. This is a fun feature. I love to read about school experiences everyone has had in various parts of the world and at different times.

Norah Colvin

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Darlene Foster, world traveller and writer of travel adventure books for children and adventurers of all ages. Darlene joined in the conversations about school days from the beginning and was keen to share her own reminiscences with you.

Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Darlene to tell you a little of herself:

Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, 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…

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We are on the home stretch. Just doing the last spit and polish of Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action before it is printed. I’ve created a trailer for the book. Let me know what you think of it.

A huge thank you to everyone who downloaded the book on NetGalley and to those who wrote reviews, I so appreciate it. The e-book is still available free on NetGalley for a limited time. If you would like one click here

This little ornament, a gift from Holland, is mentioned in the book.

What people are saying abut Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action

As always, I love the way these books teach kids about new places. Darlene does a great job combining history, cuisine, architecture and in this case, botany, from new countries in a way that children will enjoy. Looking forward to the next of Amanda and Leah’s adventures! Alex Lyttle

I had to smile as page after page the essence of the country is superbly captured through Amanda’s eyes. A delightful way for a young person to be immersed in the local lifestyle while being swept away in an exciting tale with a great ending! Irene Butler

Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action has a great conversational read style and one of the things that I loved the most is that Ms. Foster incorporates a lot of history and facts into the story to give the reader a lot of information about the country that Amanda is exploring. From Anne Frank to tulips to wooden shoes to windmills Amanda experiences. Beth Ann Chiles

The story is told in a conversational voice that will draw all readers in and deftly mixes the cultural details with how Amanda engages in and solves the mystery. Jacqui Murray

Amanda comes across this comical character while exploring Holland.

Available for pre-order on all Amazon sites.

A great review for Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music is being featured on The Write Stuff. This remains to be a popular book in the series, enjoyed by adults and children.

The Write Stuff

It’s Tuesday once more and time for #ShareAReviewDay here on The Write Stuff. Please help me welcome Darlene Foster this morning, who will be sharing a review of her book Amanda on the Danube. (Have you noticed what a well-traveled little girl Amanda is? Lucky her!) Hope you enjoy this one and will pass it along far and wide. Thanks!

REVIEW:

Robbie Cheadle

Michael and I read this book together and we both enjoyed it immensely. It is my favourite of the three Amanda books we have read to date and we will definitely be reading more.

Amanda and her good friend, Leah, are on a boat cruise along the Danube and very much enjoying the good food and fascinating villages and towns that they stop at when they become embroiled in…

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We are almost there. Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action has been edited and edited and edited some more. How could I miss so many commas and how did all those ‘ly’ words sneak in? And what is with the word just? I just use it too often. However, I am very happy with this book and am pleased to announce it is available on NetGalley for a free e-version for those of you who would like to read an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) and possibly write a review. You can access the e-book here.

Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah. She travels the canals of Amsterdam, visits Anne Frank House, checks out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and takes pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. She is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald. Follow Amanda around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, intrepid traveller Amanda encounters danger and intrigue as she tries to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.

Here is a short excerpt

They disembarked at the next stop in front of a shop with large wheels of cheese piled high outside the door. Once inside, the sour milk scent of cheese greeted them.

A cheerful girl in a pointy white hat with wings on each side handed out samples.

“Yum, this cheese is so good.” Amanda smacked her lips. “Let’s buy some for a snack later.”

Mr. Anderson took out his wallet. “Good idea. We’ll take a wedge of Gouda and one of that one we just sampled.” He pointed to the cheeses.

“You mean the Edam?” asked the sales clerk. “These are good choices.”

While Leah’s father paid for the purchase, the girls went outside. Amanda heard a whimpering sound. “Did you hear that?” she asked Leah.

“Did I hear what?”

“A sound like a baby or a baby animal. I think it came from over there.” Amanda pointed at a large garbage can across the road. “There it is again!” She stepped off the curb.

“Amanda, watch for bikes!” Leah shouted.

One whizzed past, barely missing Amanda. She didn’t even notice. She headed for a cardboard box sitting beside the smelly garbage. Bending over, she opened it. Curled up in the bottom, a brown and white puppy, with the biggest chocolate brown eyes she had ever seen, stared up at her.

The puppy whimpered and put his head between his front paws.

Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action will be released on September 1, 2019 and is available for pre-order.

An example of the gorgeous flowers Amanda sees while in Holland.

I am pleased to be part of an anthology called Understanding, An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – compiled by Stevie Turner


Blurb:
The following authors and bloggers kindly answered questions posed by Stevie Turner regarding significant life experiences they had undergone. These events include sexual abuse, a near death experience, alcoholism, being diagnosed with cancer, depression, losing weight, getting married, being a mother to many children, being the daughter of a narcissistic mother, and many more!

Thanks to:
Alienora Browning
Sally Cronin
Dorinda Duclos
Scarlett Flame
Bernard Foong
Darlene Foster
Janet Gogerty
Debbie Harris
Lucy V. Hay
Miriam Hurdle
Phil Huston
Pamela Jessen
Joe
D.G Kaye
Lynda McKinney Lambert
Jaye Marie
Clive Pilcher
Abbie Johnson Taylor
Beem Weeks

Here is an excerpt of my contribution, about
grief after the tragic death of a family member

Did you find your brother’s death hard to believe at first?

It was incomprehensible. I forced myself to be strong for my parents’ sake. I looked after the funeral arrangements etc in a blur. I kept saying to myself, this isn’t happening, this is just a bad dream and I will wake up soon. It was much later that I would find myself crying uncontrollably, usually when I was on my own. I recall driving down the highway when it hit me that he was gone. That I would not get to dance at his wedding, to hold his babies or to have a good chat and a laugh with him like we always did. My daughter would never get to know her uncle. I started crying so hard, I had to pull over as I couldn’t see through my tears. This happened a couple of years after the accident.

Did you feel angry after the initial shock had passed?

Yes. I was angry at the unfairness of it all. He was a young man with his whole life ahead of him. He had completed school, was working and being a responsible citizen. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. 

How long did it take you to accept his death?

I am not sure if I ever really have. I do know that he has been spared the hardships and heartaches of life. But I still wish he was here with us.

Available on all Amazon sites

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Amazon UK

All proceeds will go to Cancer Research.

Check it out! Thanks.

World Book Day was March 7th this year which also happens to be my birthday. When I was asked to visit an International School close to my home in Spain on March 7th, I was delighted. There is nothing I would rather do on my birthday than spend it with Grade 4, 5 and 6 students talking about my books and writing in general.

To celebrate World Book Day the students created book spines of favourite books to display on a wall. I was pleased to see Amanda in Spain amongst titles by Roald Dahl, J K Rowling and other great authors.

I spent the entire school day presenting to three grades of about forty students each. The children were very attentive, enjoyed the PowerPoint presentation, listening to the readings and eagerly joined in the brainstorming activity. I always love the Q and A session because you never know what you will get. Every group is different. One young person asked me “How long does it take to perfect a story?” Wow! Usually, they ask how long it takes to write a book but don’t even think about perfecting it. That prompted a discussion on revision. Another clever student asked me if I knew more about my main character than was in the book. From kids aged 10 to 12, these were astute questions.


Because they knew it was my birthday, I was given a lovely gift of chocolates and hand-made cards. I felt very special.

My birthday cake was made and decorated by Cakes ‘n’ Bakes, the local Coffee Shop I held a book signing at last year. Isn’t it just perfect!!


Since I was busy on my birthday, we decided to have an open house party on Sunday, March 10th, a sunny afternoon. About twenty friends, family and neighbours dropped by. Everyone had a great time and I was so happy to be surrounded by people I love.


Nice to see family

and writer friends

“It wouldn’t be a party without you” party plates

Some of the cake is gone but we are still having fun.


I was delighted with all the beautiful flowers I was gifted. You can never have too many flowers. 

So now I am another year older and look forward to the coming year! Life is good when you have friends, flowers, chocolate, sunshine and a dog!

Dot had a good time too, but was exhausted after the party.

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