Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Dreams’ Category

I wrote about my amazing granddaughter’s venture in pet boarding here. I am pleased to announce her business is doing very well. The Medicine Hat News is holding it’s Best of 2019 competition based on votes. Dear readers, would you please take a minute of your time to vote for Aunty’s Place. It is quick and easy. You can vote once a day until Feb 23. It’s easy, just click on the site, scroll down and vote.

https://heritage.secondstreetapp.com/Medicine-Hat-2019/gallery/140745088?fbclid=IwAR196gEdQbN_VZTdaVIHQPa5-N0n5fXCWjrUUGCJM3i25xAh2pEPMt-QnA8

And to show you some of the happy campers that visit Aunty’s place, here are just a few pictures.

 

They come in all shapes and sizes and Aunty loves them all!

Please share the love and help Aunty’s Place be the Best Pet Boarding of 2019.

Thanks so much!!

It’s that time of year again, the beginning! 

Time to write down and share my goals for this year. If I don’t write them down and share them, nothing will get done. It seems this is the only way it works for me.

I´m a bit late with this post but better late than never as my dad would say. So here they are…

  1. Publish and promote Amanda in Holland-Missing in Action
  2. Return to Canada in the fall of 2019 to launch Amanda in Holland, organize readings and signings at bookstores, libraries, and schools.
  3. Finish writing Amanda in Malta-The Sleeping Lady
  4. Start Amanda in France
  5. Do (at least) one thing every day to promote my writing.
  6. Publish an anthology of short stories about growing up in rural Alberta
  7. Try writing a picture book.
  8. Visit a part of Spain I haven’t been to before
  9. Attend a Moors and Christians Festival
  10. Go on a cruise, visiting Venice, Rome or Greece perhaps
  11. Read at least 30 books
  12. Take an online course
  13. Make new friends, online and in person, and stay in touch with longtime friends
  14. Celebrate my birthday in style.

I usually like to pick a word or three for the year. I decided on action, learn, listen for 2019

I´ve read some of your goals already and they are all doable! Wish me luck and share yours if you feel like it.

 

I am a bit late with this as I have been away over Christmas and New Years. There will be more about that later. I always like to look at my list of goals from the year before and see how I did. So here it goes…

Darlene’s Goals for 2018

1. Finish Amanda in Holland -Missing in Action

I completed Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action and sent it off to the publisher. Due to her busy schedule, it will be published in September of 2019. I am excited about this book as I love how it all came together and I know the readers will enjoy it. I will be revealing the amazing cover soon.

2. Publish an anthology of short stories about growing up on the Canadian prairies

This didn’t happen and will be put on next year’s list.

3. Go on a driving holiday to Paris with Paul and Dot

This did happen, in May, and we had a fabulous time. I wrote a number of posts about this amazing trip. here, here, here and here

4. Attend a Writer’s Conference in the UK

I attended the Winchester Writers Conference in June and had a wonderful time. 

5. Have the house painted

I am pleased to say the house has been painted inside and out. It looks great! 

6. Take some mini get-aways

We took a few mini get-aways but not as many as I would have liked. I went to Barcelona to meet a cousin one weekend which was so much fun. 

7. Visit places I haven’t been before

I hadn’t been to Paris before! We also saw some cool places I hadn’t seen before along the way.

8. Start Amanda in Malta

I just completed chapter 10 of Amanda in Malta-The Sleeping Lady. Halfway there. Having fun with this one. 

9. Find new markets for my books

I have been interviewed and featured as a guest on a number of blogs and magazines this year. I visited an international school in Spain and did a presentation to four classes. The response was very positive. I also had a very successful book signing at a local cake shop. 

10. Promote other authors

I have invited authors to be guests on my blog, joined writers’ groups where we promote each other and have shared other writer’s news on social media. I also write a review for most books I read and enjoy. 

11. Help my daughter with her pottery business

I have helped from afar by promoting her website and her pottery. I wish I could do more. 

12. Create more girlfriend time (I miss this from my life in Canada)

I still need to work on this. I’ve made some new friends and stayed in touch with friends from Canada and other countries. I met another blogging friend in person here in Spain, which was great. 

13. Hold more dinner parties

I didn’t even remember I put this on the list. I held a couple of great barbeques but no dinner parties. Didn’t even do Christmas dinner because I was away. 

14. Be with mom on her 90th birthday

This was the most important one and I did it! Mom turned 90 on Christmas day and I was there. I also made a party for her on December 23. 48 friends and family stopped by to wish her Happy Birthday. She couldn’t stop smiling. I am so lucky to still have this remarkable woman. 

Mom at her 90th birthday party with one of the many teddy bears she got as gifts.

All in all, I think I did OK with meeting my goals. Now to set some new ones for 2019.

A belated Happy New Year to all my readers. Thanks for all your support over the past year. You make it all worthwhile!

In November of last year, I was a guest on Sally Cronin’s blog where I was asked to list two things on my personal bucket list. One of them was to attend a writers’ conference in Europe. A writer/blogger friend, Mary Smith, suggested I check out the Winchester Writers’ Festival, which I did. In June I attended this 38-year-old festival held at the University of Winchester with 300 other attendees, providing 50 talks, readings and workshops. I had a great time and thought I should share what I learned while there.

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Entrance to the University of Winchester

I arrived Friday evening in time for dinner where I met other authors over stimulating conversation. Later I attended a talk by James Aitcheson who discussed researching and writing historical fiction which was interesting.

I stayed on campus and found my little room to be comfortable. I felt every bit a student.

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My digs for the weekend. My room was on the second floor.

The next morning, after a good sleep and a hearty breakfast (there were even vege sausages!), we listened to the keynote address with Patrick Gale interviewed by Judith Henegan, Director of the Winchester Writers’ Festival. This prolific writer of 15 novels and counting, spoke about “A Life in Writing”. He offered some great advice and this is some of what I took away from the entertaining and informative discussion.

  1. Write in ink first
  2. Use setting as a character
  3. Place defines a person
  4. End with a glimmer of hope and leave some things unanswered
  5. Remember the reader in the second draft. (are they seeing and feeling what you want them to?)
  6. Children are good to have in a novel as they disrupt, are indiscreet and honest
  7. Readers respond to recognition
  8. Cut out unnecessary stuff, remove anything that reminds people that they are reading
  9. Learn to write by reading
  10. Time is a good editor
  11. Dialogue is good but can slow down the action. It’s OK to use reported speech sometimes
  12. Readers rewrite the book when they read it

I bought his book, “A Place Called Winter” and he signed it for me. He was very interested in the fact that I was raised near the area in Canada where the story takes place.

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For the remainder of the day, I attended a number of workshops. One by children’s author, Patrice Lawernce, on “Whose Voice is it Anyway”. She discussed making your characters sound authentic by listening to how people talk and being perpetually curious, knowing their backstory and culture and getting under the skin of your characters.

Another workshop on “Creating a Picture Book”, was facilitated by Andrew Weale. He explained that you have to think visually as you write, write a lot, then pare it down to a few words as you let the pictures talk. Picture book stories can be generated by asking unusual, quirky questions.

“Twitter For Writers” by Claire Fuller gave me a few more ideas on how to maximize my time on Twitter. “Myth, Mystery and Magic” with Sarah Mussi reminded us that goodness wins in the end with examples through the ages. The hero should have a flaw, even if it is a good flaw like being too kind etc. The excellent dinner came with a guest speaker, Helen Dennis, who gave an animated talk about her route to success as a children’s author.

Sunday was an all-day workshop, “Casting the Spell of Place”, with Lorna Ferguson. I loved this as we were given prompts with time to write and share our work. A few points I took away with me.

  1. Cut out unnecessary details of description to avoid making it sound like a travelogue
  2. Don’t make lists
  3. Think of the reader and what effect you want to create
  4. Setting can create mood and atmosphere and help with plotting
  5. Location often takes the character out of their comfort zone
  6. It should transport the reader out of their ordinary world (armchair travelling)
  7. It should create a perception of the culture
  8. Description needs to be broken up with dialogue and action
  9. Be careful of information dumping, it will pull the reader out of the story
  10. If it doesn’t work, try a different setting!

Another point that came up which was very helpful for me and my stories is that a character can’t always have someone help them. They need to solve their own problems, sometimes in an unfamiliar location.

We were given a list of quotes. I love this one. Place is paramount. Annie Proulx

I also had two one to one appointments with authors who looked at the first chapter of Amanda in Holland and gave me great feedback.

With limited luggage space, I only bought two books, (amazing for me!) and an Elizabeth Bennet tree ornament to remember my time.

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Elizabeth Bennett Christmas tree ornament

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Charming bench on the grounds of the university

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One of the many great buildings on site, the Business School

Staying in a historic city, meeting other writers and learning more about the art of writing made this a perfect break for me and just what I needed to continue with my writing. Thank you so much, Mary Smith, for this suggestion. Check out her interesting blog and wonderful books.

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-/entity/author/B001KCD4P0

 

When our friends inquired what I wanted to see while visiting them in France, I asked if Giverny, the home of Claude Monet, was near. They said it was only one hour away and would be happy to take us there. I am so glad we went to this magical place. It felt like I had stepped into a Monet painting.

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Monet’s garden

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The village of Giverny is storybook delightful and I can see why Monet chose it as a place to live, paint, garden and raise his large blended family.

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The village of Giverny

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The gardens are simply breathtaking. This was Monet´s happy place and it is evident he was inspired by the amazing array of shapes and colours. I gazed mesmerized at the well-known and oft-painted lily pond.

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And I stood on the same bridge I have long admired in his painting. Not only was this visit a dream come true, it felt like a living dream!

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“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet

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“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. ” – Claude Monet

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A profusion of colours

His charming house is incredibly comfortable with views of the gardens from every room. As I entered, I half expected Monet to be there welcoming me as he did many guests in the past. His art and that of his contemporaries adorn the walls of all the rooms as it did when he lived there. His spirit permeates the rooms.

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Monet’s house in Giverny

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My favourite room was the sunny, cheerful kitchen. I imagined Claude, Anne and their eight children laughing and chatting as they shared meals.

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We visited the Impressionist Art Gallery on site and had a lovely meal overlooking part of the garden. I stopped at a small shop in Giverny and bought the perfect, handmade French hat to remember this auspicious visit.

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Water Lily Pond with Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet

I could have stayed all day, but alas it had to end. This is now my happy place which I will return to in my mind many times. Thank you, Alain and Cathy, for taking me here!

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Friends in the garden

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“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet

The photographs by Darlene Foster, Paul Foster and Cathy Marsen 

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I hope 2018 has started out well for everyone! As is my habit, I sat on my terrace in the sun, took out a pen and paper and scribbled down my goals for the coming year. I feel I need to share them with you. So here they are

Darlene’s Goals for 2018
1. Finish Amanda in Holland -Missing in Action
2. Publish an anthology of short stories about growing up on the Canadian prairies
3. Go on a driving holiday to Paris with Paul and Dot
4. Attend a Writer’s Conference in the UK
5. Have the house painted
6. Take some mini get-aways
7. Visit places I haven’t been before
8. Start Amanda in Malta
9. Find new markets for my books
10. Promote other authors
11. Help my daughter with her pottery business
12. Create more girlfriend time (I miss this from my life in Canada)
13. Hold more dinner parties
14. Be with mom on her 90th birthday

There you have it. Wish me luck!

My three words for this year are

Create

Happiness

Friendship

I will leave you with a thought by Anne Lamott from her book “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” 

“Oh my God, what if you wake up someday, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”

and from the amazing Neil Gaiman

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” 

Have a surprising 2018 and thanks for following my blog, inspiring me and being my friend!

 

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I am a very goal-oriented person and require goals to keep me on track. At the beginning of every year, I write down some goals as I believe writing them down cements them in my mind and helps me to meet them. As the year comes to a close, I like to look at the goals I set for myself and see how I did.

These are the 2017 goals I posted on my blog.

Prepare Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind for publication in the fall of 2017.

Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind was completed in January 2017 and after a number of edits and a few beta reads, it was published and launched October 1, 2017! This is book number six in the Amanda Travels series. I am so proud of this book. Thanks to everyone who assisted and supported me, bought this book and reviewed it. Launching a book is much like giving birth, hard work, painful but so worth it!

Return to Canada in October to promote the newest book

I returned to Canada in August and September for an awesome six-city book tour and wrote about it here. I moved the date up in order to accept an invitation to present a workshop for the Vancouver Public Library’s Writer’s Camp in mid-August. It was an incredible experience. The book tour was successful and I now have many more Amanda fans. I was also able to see many friends and family members while there. 

Write Amanda in Holland, book seven of the series

I started Amanda in Holland-Missing in Action and have written over fifty percent of it. I would have liked to have been further along by now though. 

Explore places in Spain we haven´t been to before.

I visited the amazing city of Cordoba with special out of town guests as well as other small towns and rural sites in Spain. Although I had visited Barcelona twice already, I explored parts I had not seen before. There is still so much to see and do in this fascinating country.

Return to England to visit family and friends

We travelled to York in January to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary and visit some of Paul’s family. In October we travelled to Liverpool to meet friends. Both fascinating cities that reminded me of why I love England so much.

Go on at least one interesting trip outside of Spain

We spent a week in Malta and loved every minute. I wrote about that trip here.

Attend Pueblo Ingles or a similar program assisting Spanish-speaking individuals with their communication English

For some reason, this hasn’t worked out again this year but it is still on the list. 

Create a new up-to-date website

My clever brother created a swanky new website for me. I just love it and can’t thank him enough. www.darlenefoster.ca

Organize the files on my computer

I started this but need to work harder to get things organized better. 

Learn to use the new Samsung Tablet Santa delivered!

 I use my tablet daily and take it with me when I travel. It was such a great gift. It didn’t take long to figure most of it out.

Keep in touch with family and friends, including friends on social media.

I make a concerted effort to keep in touch with everyone. Social media has been a huge help with this. I even met some of my social media friends in person this year. I wrote about it here. 

Be kind, be strong and never stop being curious.

Yes, yes and yes.

In retrospect, 2017 was a very good year and I look forward to 2018.

I wish everyone who reads my blog a very Happy New Year!! 

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.” George Bernard Shaw.


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