Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Dreams’ Category

For many years I have set goals for the coming year. They help to keep me focused and be productive. This year I was reluctant to set any goals because it is hard to make plans when things are still so uncertain. But then I decided the best thing is to just carry on as usual. Goals are not written in stone. They can always be adjusted or carried over to the next year. So before I went to bed on January 1st, I wrote down some goals. I also believe goals need to be shared in order to be effective. Here they are!

Goals for 2021

  1. Come up with innovative ideas to market Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady
  2. Plan a trip to Canada to launch Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady
  3. Visit family and friends in Canada as soon as it is safe to do so
  4. Finish writing Amanda in Spain: Fire in the Cathedral
  5. Read and review at least 40 good books
  6. Visit new places in Spain
  7. Continue to help other writers
  8. Organize computer files
  9. Attend conferences and workshops on line
  10. Do podcast and video interviews and presentations
  11. Visit schools digitally and in-person if possible
  12. Find markets for my short stories
  13. Adopt a buddy for Dot
  14. Stay safe and stay positive

In recent years, I have been encouraged by other bloggers to pick three words for the year. I really like this idea and usually pick the first three words that come to mind.

These are my words for 2021.

Strength

Love

Hope

My wish for everyone for 2021 is to be strong, share the love and never give up hope! And drink good tea and read good books.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is happy to see this year over. Here´s what the crew of Starship Enterprise felt about 2020.

For someone who loves to set goals and make plans, this has been a tough year. So many plans were ruined and goals not met. But we are safe and healthy and as we speak, our family is OK as well. That is really all that matters at the end of the day.

So, as painful as it is, here is my report on the goals I set a year ago, never imagining a global pandemic!

2020 Goals

  1. Edit Amanda in Malta:The Sleeping Lady, and send it to the publisher

Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady has been edited, beta-read and with the publisher. It is scheduled for release in May 2021 and is available for preorder. I am so excited about this book as it takes place in a unique country, with tons of history, action and fun. Fans will be pleased to know that Caleb is back too.

2. Write Amanda in France

I am halfway through writing Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral. It is coming along slowly. Like many writers, I had trouble concentrating at the start of the lockdown. Amanda falls in love with Paris, Versailles and Giverny and gets to stay at a bookstore!

3. Decide if I should continue writing Amanda stories or venture into something else.

I haven’t made that decision yet. I’ll see how the next two books do.

4. Write more short stories

I did write new short stories and revisited and polished some old ones. Short stories were easier to focus on this year. My short story, Lockdown With Anne, was included in an anthology about the pandemic called, With Love, Comes Hope.

5. Write more travel articles

I didn’t write many travel articles. The fact that we couldn’t travel, didn’t inspire me to write travel articles.

6. Help others with their writing as many have helped me

This is something I did a lot of. I had the time, it could be done online and it made me feel useful. I did some editing as well which I enjoyed.

7. Work on my TBR list, read at least 40 books 

Another thing I had time to do and it took my mind off the situation. I read 40 books, many I had wanted to read for a long long time. They are listed on my Goodreads Reading Challenge page

8. Visit Venice

We had planned to celebrate our anniversary and my birthday in Venice. All booked but sadly, cancelled due to a global pandemic.

9. Attend a family reunion in Alberta

Cancelled as well. I was very dissapointed as I love to see my aunts, uncles and many wonderful cousins.

10. Travel to the UK and visit friends

Also booked, plans set to meet up with a number of friends, but cancelled.

11. Organize my office

I did some organizing but more needs to be done.

12. Organize my computer files

Again, not as much as I should have. It´s not like I didn´t have the time!

13. Learn more about writing and publishing a picture book.

Lost interest in this for some reason.

14. Publish an anthology of short stories

I´m working on this.

What I did do was a lot of cooking and baking, walking the dog and connecting with friends and family through social media.

My three words for 2020 were:

support – Support others in whatever way I can, as so many have supported me over the years.

connect – Connect with people, stay in touch, facilitate connections.

motion – Keep moving, physically and mentally.

Little did I know how important these three words would become.

By supporting others, I was able to take my mind off of my concerns. Since I have learned a few things over the years of writing and publishing my books, it has been great to be able to share that knowledge. I enjoyed interviewing and featuring other authors on my blog and helping promote their books.

I connected with so many people, some I haven´t been in touch with for quite a while. These connections kept me sane. Connecting through social media has been a godsend. I Zoom with my writers’ groups here in Spain and in Canada, and video message and Skype with family members and friends near and far. Connecting through blogging has been my social life and I so appreciate those connections. So a huge thank you to all my blogging buddies!

Walking the dog three to four times a day has kept me moving and kept the baking off my hips. Walking has been good for my mental well being as well.

Although many of my goals were not met, it has still been an OK year.

I stole this from a writer/blogging friend, Janet Givens. I love it.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Stay safe and well so that eventually we can all travel and meet up again soon.

As promised, here is the next installment of our crazy move to Spain. I wrote this based on a writing prompt provided by my writers’ group.

Those That Don’t Believe in Magic Never Find It                                              

It looked like it would take a hefty dose of magic to make our dream of moving to Spain come true. Things went from bad to worse and I began to think that it was a terrible idea. However, since it poured rain for the entire last week of October, we were more than ever determined to live where the sun shone most days.

Everything in the apartment was gone, including the bed, so we stayed overnight at a hotel on October 31, our last night in Canada. Hubby had a terrible cold, oh joy! I walked to the mall in the rain to pick up cold tablets and take-out food to eat in the room. My runners filled up with water, and even though I was wearing a raincoat with a hood, I was totally drenched by the time I got back. I threw the runners and the clothes I was wearing in the garbage. I imagined the cleaning staff would think we had been involved in some sort of crime or undercover op.

The next morning, after a goodbye coffee with an old friend, we headed to the airport more than three hours before the flight. We were eager to check-in and get rid of our six large suitcases. No one was even at the British Airways check-in yet. As we made our way to Starbucks, I teased hubby about always being ridiculously early.

My phone pinged. A text message from BA indicating the flight was delayed 24 hours. Whoa! I must have read that wrong. I looked again, then showed it to Paul. Yup, that’s what it said. We returned to the check-in where a line was starting to form as staff opened up. When we got to the booth, it was confirmed. There had been a bomb scare at Heathrow, cancelling all flights.  Ours would leave tomorrow at the same time. It was suggested we go home and come back the next day. We explained we didn’t have a home to go to. (In fact, we did, but it was empty.)

British Airways was great. They provided a room in the Fairmont at the airport, a 5 star plus hotel, gave us a voucher for dinner at their fabulous restaurant and one for breakfast as well. Of course, we still had our six extra-large suitcases and four carry-ons, but the room was large and we could store them there. This delay had a domino effect. The hotel reservation in Madrid had to be changed, as well as the train tickets to Alicante and the car rental upon arrival. Fortunately, we were able to make the changes on our computers from the hotel room. To calm my frayed nerves, I had a lovely soak in the huge tub.

 The next day after an excellent breakfast we said, “Let’s try this again.”

The flight to London went as well as a nine-hour flight could. Sadly, poor hubby´s cold had taken a turn for the worse in spite of me filling him with medication. After a few hours in Heathrow, we caught the flight to Madrid. All we wanted to do was sleep, but that was not to be as the plane was full of soccer fans going to a Madrid/Liverpool match. There was much drinking and partying going on, and many trips back and forth to the lavatory. On another occasion, it would have been funny. Once we landed in Madrid, the shuttle bus picked us up and delivered us to our hotel room where we collapsed into bed. We were in Spain at last!

The magic was working, or was it?

The next morning after breakfast, our pre-ordered cab arrived. The driver informed us he could not take both of us and six large suitcases. We had to order another cab, one for me and three suitcases, and one for Paul and the other three. Double the cost! Oh well, we’d been through worse. We just needed to get to the train station so we could get to Alicante, pick up our car and drive to Orihuela Costa to begin our new life.

Atocha train station in Madrid
Inside Atocha, beautiful but no luggage trolleys

At Atocha station, we looked for luggage trolleys as the station is three floors below the front entrance. There were none to be found. Hubby stayed on top with the bags while I went down the three flights of escalators to see if I could find a couple of trolleys. No luck. WTH! There was no way we could take all six bags and four carry-ons down in one trip. Leaving some behind would be taking a huge risk that they would be stolen. Paul went to look, as I had obviously not looked in the right places, but came back empty-handed. As the time for our train to depart got closer, panic set in. I went downstairs one more time. When I could not find even one trolley, I burst into tears. Why was this happening?

There is always an angel. And one appeared by the name of Mercedes. She asked me what was wrong. I explained everything to her and she offered to help. We went upstairs to Paul. With an extra set of hands, we were able to get all the luggage down to the train and board on time. Never ever underestimate the kindness of strangers.

At Alicante train station, I watched the pile of luggage while hubby walked the two blocks to pick up the rental car. He was gone a long time. I started to get worried. He finally arrived, very agitated. Poor guy, his cold was still terrible. Although he had contacted the car rental company about us being a day late, head office did not let the Alicante office know. So they didn’t have a car for us. Paul, who is always a gentleman and seldom swears, swore and demanded they come up with a car for us. Which they did. The Fiat almost held all the luggage. I held one bag on my lap and another was stored under my feet.

We looked at each other and said at the same time, “Whose stupid idea was it to move to Spain??”

One hour later we arrived in La Zenia, where we collapsed into the arms of my in-laws. That was almost six years ago and we are loving our life in Spain. Of course, it hasn’t always gone smoothly, but what does?

We made it! Two days after landing in Spain.

It’s true, as Walt Disney said, “Those who don’t believe in magic, never find it.

It is coming up to six years since we packed up and moved to Spain. Recently at a writing group, we were given the prompt of – Screw it, let’s do it! I decided this would be a good time to write about the trials and tribulations we had as we prepared for this huge move. The group enjoyed my story, so I decided to share it with my blog followers.

Screw It Let’s Do It!

Retirement loomed. My husband and I often talked about retiring to a warmer climate. Many of our friends had bought property in the southern United States, Mexico, Central and South America. But hubby wasn’t keen on living in any of those places. His parents retired to Spain from the UK a number of years earlier, and we had visited them there a few times. We both liked Spain.

This will do.

It was a long way from Canada, but it had the appeal of being in Europe and close to other countries we wanted to explore. I loved the history, the beaches and the weather. It was affordable for people living on a pension., too. Paul imagined riding his Ducati on twisty mountain roads all year round, and I entertained thoughts of writing books and travel articles while sitting in the sun.

We booked a trip, and while in Spain, we found places along the Costa Blanca that could work for us within our price range. Once returning home, we did further research. Retiring to Spain became more of a consideration. When I told my children our potential plans, they said, ‘Do what makes you happy, mom.’ I mentioned to my daughter that I would give her my trusty Honda Civic. Her eyes perked up and she asked, ‘When are you going’?

With the blessings of the family, we began the process of clearing out the apartment and putting it up for sale. Having downsized from a 2500 square foot house to a 1350 square foot apartment fourteen years earlier, we didn’t think it would take much work. We didn’t realize how much we had acquired in that time!

Both of us still working, every weekend was spent clearing out closets, file cabinets and storage spaces, as well as painting and decorating to make the place look fresh and clean. We met with three different real estate agents, and decided to list with the one we felt would represent our place well based on her enthusiasm. There were many showings but no offers. As we had some wiggle room, we dropped the price a bit.

Over the summer, I gave away, donated and sold seventy percent of our belongings. Time was spent with family and friends as it might be awhile until we saw them again once we made the move across the ocean. There was one offer on the apartment. Way too low, we turned it down. There was still time. I knew the right people would come along and love our garden apartment in its great location as much as we did.

Retirement party!

I retired at the end of September and we booked tickets to Madrid leaving the first of November. I made one last trip to Alberta to ensure my mom was settled into her care home and to spend valuable time with my grand and great grandkids. An offer on the apartment came through while I was there. Although low, after some negotiating, we came to an agreement. They were to sign the papers the last week of October. For all intents and purposes, it was a done deal. Things were looking good. We went out for drinks with friends to celebrate.

I sold the rest of the furniture and organized a moving company to pack and pick up the personal belongings we would take with us.

On the last Monday of October, I woke up to a very upsetting message from my son. A good friend of ours had passed away in her sleep at the age of 53. I was devastated. I had just seen her two weeks earlier, a picture of health.

An hour later, I received a call from the realtor. The people who bought the apartment were to sign the papers for the sale the next day. Except, they decided to withdraw from the agreement, forfeiting their deposit.

What else could go wrong! I felt the walls crashing in all around me.

The furniture was all gone except for the bed. The dishes, pots and pans, and everything else were packed, ready to be picked up by the movers the following day. My daughter was coming for my car on Wednesday. Hubby had already sold his car and shipped his Ducati. It was already on the way to Spain!

Even if we stayed until we sold the place, we had nothing but an empty apartment. I was sick to my stomach. We sat on the bed, and in between my incessant sobbing, we explored our options.

Finally we decided. Screw it, let’s do it.

So with very little money and continuing mortgage payments, we flew out to Spain on November 1st, 2014 as planned. Well actually, we ended up flying out on November 2nd, but that’s another story, for another day.

My publisher reminded me that it has been ten years since we published my first book, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask. Ten years!!

It made me think back to my first book launch at Albany Books in Tsawwassen, BC. I was so excited and so scared. What if no one came? What if no one bought my book? What if no one liked it? How many times had I gone to a book launch or book signing and dreamt of one day having my own? Thanks to Central Avenue Publishing my life-long dream came true.

My first book launch!
I brought Ali Baba along and he was a big hit.
And lots of people came
And bought many books.

I was over the moon with happiness. I had to pinch myself, to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

And the following year I had another book launch for Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting.

Even more people came, the bookstore was packed and I sold more books.

So I wrote another book, Amanda in England: The Missing Novel, and launched it at Albany Books. No one could even tell I had a broken ankle.

I launched the next book, Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone, wearing the appropriate hat.

My biggest supporter!
Amanda fans

Then I moved to Spain and wrote Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music, but returned to Albany Books for the launch.

I was so pleased that my daughter could attend this launch

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind followed with another fun launch.

And then there was my recent launch of Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action. Well attended in spite of a rainy Vancouver day.

Friends and long time supporters
With my amazing publisher, Michelle Halket, who made all of this possible.
Nothing like seeing your books on the shelves of a bookstore
I’ve held all seven book launches at Albany Books, a wonderful independent bookstore with knowledgeable and super friendly staff.

Thank you to everyone who has attended my book launches over the past ten years, for buying my books and for spreading the word about them.

Thank you to Albany Books for hosting my book launches. Even though in lockdown, they are open for phone-in and online orders, with local curbside delivery and mail delivery otherwise. Please support your local bookstores at this time. https://www.albanybooks.com/

Thank you to Michelle Halket of Central Avenue Publishing for believing in me and my Amanda Travels series.

And thank you for coming along with me down memory lane. I wonder what the next ten years will bring. Stay strong, stay safe and stay home!

There are many things that make me happy, but as a writer, good reviews and happy readers just make my day. A super review for Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action was recently posted on Robbie Cheadle´s blog.

https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2020/02/15/amanda-in-holland-missing-in-action-by-darlene-foster/

Darlene Foster has a lovely series of travel combined with mystery books for middle school readers. Amanda in Holland is the fourth book in this series I have read and it certainly did not disappoint me.

The book is action-packed and filled with interesting titbits of information about life in Holland, WWII and perseverance and determination in unraveling a mystery.

Amanda is a clever and kind girl who will appeal to middle school and young teenagers who will admire her pluck.

Read more about what she has to say here

Jacquie Biggar posted a great review of Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone on her blog https://jacqbiggar.com/2020/02/24/bookreview-amanda-in-alberta-by-darlene-foster-childrensmystery-supermegawoman/

Amanda in Alberta is a fun, page-turning mystery with interesting tidbits of indigenous history along with Alberta landmarks thrown in.

While geared toward the pre-teen age group, this book has something for every reader to enjoy.

I give Amanda in Alberta four lovely kisses- Traveling with Amanda is an adventure!

Read the rest of the review along with a couple of perfect pictures here

And a long time blogging friend and amazing photographer, Ruth Hendricks, https://rutheh.com/ sent me a great picture of her granddaughter, Maura, receiving Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting in the mail. She looks pretty happy.

These are the things that make the hard work of writing books worthwhile.

It’s been ten years since my first book, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask was published. I never imagined I would have a series of seven books out there. A huge thank you to everyone who has read my books, written reviews, told friends, family, and teachers about my books, given them as gifts and sent me emails and pictures. It has been the huge support of so many that has made this dream of mine come true. I can’t thank you enough.

You can read more about my books on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

or on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Copyright © 2020 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved

I have been invited to be a guest on Krysten Lindsay Hager’s blog where I talk about daydreaming. I have known Krysten since we both started blogging all those years ago. She has since written eight delightful books for Children and Young Adults about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. You can find her books on Amazon 

We both agree that daydreaming can come in handy for a writer.

Here is the article:

https://www.krystenlindsay.com/blog/daydream-believer-a-guest-post-by-author-darlene-foster

Happy to have author Darlene Foster back on the blog today with a guest post. She writes the  Amanda Travels adventure series and today Darlene is here to talk about something I do so, so often–daydreaming! 

Daydream Believer by Darlene Foster

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

As long as I can remember I have been a daydreamer. Daydreaming has kept me from being bored, lonely and unhappy. It has also been responsible for me accomplishing many of my goals. Many of them started as a daydream.

Read the rest here

Do you still daydream? 

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”  Edith Lovejoy Pierce

I love the start of a new year. It´s an opportunity to re-evaluate my life and set goals for the next 12 months. They may not all be met, that’s OK, life gets in the way. But if there are no goals, nothing gets done and you just sit there. At least that´s how it is for me and I’ve got to keep on moving! 

“Even though you are on the right track – you will get run over if you just sit there.” Will Rogers

With that in mind, here are my goals for 2020.

  1. Edit Amanda in Malta:The Sleeping Lady and send it to the publisher
  2. Write Amanda in France
  3. Decide if I should continue writing Amanda stories or venture into something else.
  4. Write more short stories
  5. Write more travel articles
  6. Help others with their writing as many have helped me
  7. Work on my TBR list, read at least 40 books 
  8. Visit Venice
  9. Attend a family reunion in Alberta
  10. Travel to the UK and visit friends
  11. Organize my office
  12. Organize my computer files
  13. Learn more about writing and publishing a picture book
  14. Publish an anthology of short stories

My three words for 2020 are:

support – Support others in whatever way I can, as so many have supported me over the years.

connect – Connect with people, stay in touch, facilitate connections.

motion – Keep moving, physically and mentally.

My first goal of 2020 was to write this list and it´s done! I would love to hear about your goals and/or words for this year, the start of a new decade.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

I better get writing!

 

As the sun sets on another year, it’s time for me to see how I did with the goals set out at the beginning of the year. All years have highs and lows, but upon reflection it wasn’t a bad year. 

2019 Goals

  1. Publish and promote Amanda in Holland-Missing in Action.                       I am happy to say that Amanda in Holland was released on September 2, 2019. I did a lot of on-line promotion before and after publication. 
  2. Return to Canada in the fall of 2019 to launch Amanda in Holland, organize readings and signings at bookstores, libraries, and schools.          I did return to Canada in October and visited many bookstores, schools and libraries. It was a successful tour.
  3. Finish writing Amanda in Malta-The Sleeping Lady.                          Amanda in Malta is finished, it just needs to be edited and beta read before sending it to the publisher. It should be published Spring 2021.
  4. Start Amanda in France.                                                                              Some rough notes have been made for this book but I haven’t started writing the story yet. 
  5. Do (at least) one thing every day to promote my writing.                           I do this automatically now. 
  6. Publish an anthology of short stories about growing up in rural Alberta.                                                                                                             This has been on the list for a couple of years and I still haven’t done it!
  7. Try writing a picture book.                                                                                 I have made some notes for a picture book but feel I need to learn more about this genre before I attempt it.
  8. Visit a part of Spain I haven’t been to before.                                                 I visited Tarragona, Reus, Lorca, Aledo and Montserrate for the first time. All fascinating places in Spain. 
  9. Attend a Moors and Christians Festival.                                                          I didn’t do this, but I did attend an amazing Easter parade in Lorca and a Candle Night Festival in Aledo. 
  10. Go on a cruise, visiting Venice, Rome or Greece perhaps.                     This didn’t happen.
  11. Read at least 30 books.                                                                                  This was my Goodreads Challenge and I did it. In fact I read 31 books!
  12. Take an online course.                                                                                         I didn’t do this but did learn some new things by reading informative blogs.
  13. Make new friends, online and in person, and stay in touch with longtime friends.                                                                                                   I have made some new friends, a few in person and many online. I have made a concerted effort to keep in touch with old friends as they are gold. Seeing many of them on my return trip to Canada was the best.
  14. Celebrate my birthday in style.                                                                           I had friends over for a sunny March afternoon tea on my terrace. Hubby purchased a special cake for me. A good time was had by all. 

I usually like to pick a word or three for the year. I decided on action, learn, listen for 2019. I believe I did listen better, which in turn enabled me to learn more and take appropriate action. I seldom look back at these words but having written them down, they seem to become imprinted in the back of my mind and affect how I live my life. Funny how that works.

I have just realized we have come to the end of the second decade of the 21st Century. Incredible. It would be worth reflecting on the past ten years. Perhaps in another post.

I wish all of you a fabulous New Year’s Eve, whether you go out and celebrate or have a quiet evening at home with a loved one or a good book. See you in 2020 with a new list of goals.

I am honoured to be a guest on Alethea’s Better World of Books where we talk about how Amanda never gives up trying to make the world a better place and my dream for a “Better World”. Hop on over and check it out. You know you need a break from Christmas preparations!

The Light Behind the Story

thDarlene Foster is a writer of children’s stories, a retired employment counsellor, an ESL tutor, a wife, mother and grandmother. Her grandson once gave her the nickname “super-mega-woman-supreme.” Darlene was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. Her book series for children follows the heroine Amanda Ross as she travels throughout the world and learns the history and culture of faraway places.

 Darlene, thank you so much for being a guest on “A Better World of Books!” Please tells us a little about the inspiration for your character Amanda Ross.

Amanda Ross is the twelve-year-old I would have liked to be. I had a wonderful rural upbringing but my world was limited and I was bored. My grade three teacher taught us about faraway places which sparked my interest in traveling the world and…

View original post 1,118 more words


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