Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

I just returned from a working holiday in Canada. In between spending time with family and friends, I launched Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral. It was so wonderful to be able to do this in person again. I love visiting bookstores, libraries and schools, and introducing my latest book. The people you meet at these events are amazing. Of course they are, they’re readers, my favourite kind of people.

I did author events in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on the east coast of Canada, in Vancouver, BC on the west coast and in Medicine Hat and Calgary, Alberta. Everywhere I went, I met new and long-time Amanda fans of all ages. It was a lot of fun. Here are a few pictures.

Book launch at Albany Books in Tsawwassen
The bookstore supplied macarons!

When I got home I received this lovely message from someone who bought a copy of Amanda in France for her mom. “My Momma just phoned to say how much she’s loving Amanda and the Cathedral!!! She’ll be ordering more from Albany Books.”

Popped into Blue Heron Books in Comox, BC to introduce myself and my books. They are now carrying the Amanda Travels books.

We had a great turnout at Unlimited Characters Bookstore in Medicine Hat.

Reading to the children
A school presentation – my favourite thing to do. The students were wonderful.
A happy Amanda fan.
Presentation and reading at the Okotoks Library
And sometimes in people’s backyards

While I was at Indigo/Chapters in Charlottetown PEI, a woman stopped by and bought 4 books. She was a long-time friend of a cousin from Calgary, Alberta. These are the amazing things that happen on book tours.

Thank you to everyone who attended the book presentations and signings. You make my job fun!

Next time, less of me and more fabulous scenery.

March 3 was World Book Day this year and many schools encourage students to dress up as a favourite character from a book. I was delighted that one young reader dressed as Amanda in Spain! Her aunt sent me a picture. How special is that?

I love seeing who children choose to dress up as. A friend´s granddaughter dressed as Heidi, from a book I loved as a child. The young girl was upset that her mummy was in the hospital for three weeks, so her grandmother read a chapter of Heidi to her every night before bed, which settled her down nicely. It was her grandmother’s favourite book and now it is her favourite book too. Isn´t her costume great!

I now want to read this wonderful book, set in Switzerland, again.

I was invited to do a virtual visit to a Year 5 class in Birmingham, England to discuss Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting, as they were reading it in class.

This is part of the email from the teacher:

Dear Darlene,

I hope this email finds you well.

This year I am again using your wonderful text, Amanda in Spain in my English lessons to link to our Viva Espana topic. I have another class of Year 5 pupils who are absolutely mesmerised by every word and complain each time I close the book when a chapter ends!

I am emailing in the hope that you would be willing to do another virtual meet, like the one we arranged last year? We will have started a second of your books, in Reading lessons instead – Amanda in England. My class last year, LOVED this book just as much. We read the last chapter eating a scone with jam and cream to celebrate! I hope to do this again also. In fact, my previous pupils, who are based in the classroom next door, keep asking myself and the current pupils which chapter we are on and what has happened! I think that is a true sign of how much your book enthralled them.

I’m off to place tomatoes on the tables to enhance my lesson on the Tomatina chapter now! Hope to hear from you soon.

Now if that doesn´t make an author´s heart sing!!

What a delightful class, we had so much fun. The visit was the day after WBD so I asked who they dressed up as and they told me everyone dressed as a Harry Potter character! That would have been great to see.

Each student had prepared a comment or question about the book, writing in general, and Spain. Some practised using the Spanish words in the book.

Here are some of the comments and questions:

Reading Amanda in Spain made me want to visit Spain.

The book was amazing and now I want to read more Amanda Travels books.

After I read the book, we tried tapas.

I was inspired to research Guadi and discovered he was a famous architect.

After reading your book, I was inspired to write a story called Pedro and the Missing Blanket.

Have you been to The Prado Museum and did you see the painting?

Have you taken part in Tomatino?

Have you ever been to a fiesta?

Will we see Dona and Francisco in any other books?

Will we get to know more about Amanda´s parents in other books?

Besides, travel, what other hobbies does Amanda have?

What inspires you to write these books?

Why did you move to Spain?

Have you been to a bullfight?

What advice would you give a young author?

Who would you use as an illustrator if you decided to have the books illustrated?

How much time do you spend proofreading each book?

Have you written any books for adults?

Aren´t these just the best questions? They were all so well-spoken, polite and sincere.

I also read a couple of pages from Amanda in Malta which they loved. This was my second visit to this school, and later the teacher told me that the class from last year were watching through the window and wished they could have been part of it.

Visiting classrooms in person or virtually is the best thing about being a children´s author.

I hope everyone had a super World Book Day!

Who would you choose to dress up as?

Everyone loves a beautiful bride! I know I do. I´m always excited when I stumble upon a bride while travelling. Here are a few of them.

Barcelona, Spain

Outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, also known as Barcelona Cathedral, the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, I came upon a bride getting ready for a photo shoot.

Getting the gown just right
Don´t they just look adorable?

Aix-en-Provence, France

In Aix-en-Provence, we came upon a bride in the courtyard outside the town hall, waiting for a civil ceremony. One of the flower girls was having a rest.

Almost time.

Genoa, Italy

As we left a cathedral in Genoa, the bride had just arrived.

Notice how enthralled the little girls are.

I know I have more, but these are a few I was able to find in my thousands of pictures.

Have you encountered brides or weddings on your journeys?

I posted this last year and feel it is worth running again. A sad day that affected many of us.

Darlene Foster's Blog

One question often asked of those of us who were around at the time is, “Where were you when you heard that President John F Kennedy had been shot?” I remember the day clearly even though it happened fifty-seven years ago.

I’d like to share with you a poem a poet friend of mine wrote.

22/11/63

A shot rang out across the years

embedded itself in a nation’s fears.

November the month with stains on its soul

history stilled near a green grassy knoll.

The New Camelot was shattered

and everyhing that mattered

suddenly not an issue

as fragile as brain tissue.

poem by John McGilvary

John F. Kennedy May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963

It was a sad day indeed. I remember it was recess time at school and one of the boys said that Kennedy had been shot. I said that it wasn’t funny and he shouldn’t…

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

We have so much to be thankful for. What was I doing at this time last year? I was launching Amanda in Holland and visiting friends and family. I am so thankful I was able to do that. For now, I am thankful I have the pictures to look back on. Stay safe everyone. xo

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Darlene Foster's Blog

I was missing in action for the last month as I went to Canada to promote the latest Amanda Travels book as well as visit friends and family. It was a very successful trip, although a bit tiring. Here’s a sample of what I was up to.

I visited four schools in Alberta and BC, consisting of a variety of class sizes and students. All delightful with many questions and comments. My favourite part of being a published author is visiting schools and reading to the children. When I walked into one class, a young boy shouted, “She´s here! She´s here! I can´t believe she´s here!” For a moment I felt like a rock star. 




I launched my latest book, Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action, at Albany Books in Tsawwassen, BC, a community I lived in for fifteen years. I love this friendly, locally-owned, independant bookstore that has…

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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!

A year ago today, it was Maundy Thursday, when a friend and I attended a fabulous Easter parade in Lorca, here in Spain. Following my post from a couple of days ago, I decided it would be worth sharing more of this special event. Enjoy!

Darlene Foster's Blog

Easter week, Semana Santa, provides the most impressive and emotional fiestas here in Spain. Processions and parades around the country mix historic, biblical, artistic, cultural and social themes. Members of the different brotherhoods, dressed in their characteristic robes, parade through the streets while dozens of costaleros on foot carry ornate religious icons called pasos. This is a spectacular sight whether you are religious or not. No where do they do this better than in the town of Lorca where in 2007 their Holy Week was declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest. Its origin dates back centuries ago. I was lucky to have witnessed this event last week and wrote about what we saw before the parade started in the previous post.

As promised, here are some pictures of the actual event.

I was especially in awe of the horse-drawn chariots and performing horses. At times I felt like…

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Due to the worldwide pandemic, all Easter parades and celebrations for Semana Santa, (Holy Week) were cancelled in Spain. This is the most important week in the Spanish religious calendar and has been celebrated for centuries. Since we could not partake in a fiesta this year, I am sharing the parade I attended last year. It was so spectacular, it’s worth a revisit. Enjoy!

Darlene Foster's Blog

Semana Santa, Holy Week in Spain, is the annual tribute of the Passion of Jesus Christ celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods called cofradía and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter. Each place presents a different experience, from very sombre processions to lively spectacles. 

On Maundy Thursday a friend and I went by bus to the city of Lorca, about one and a half hours away, to attend their Easter parade that I had heard was one of the best in Spain. Although rain threatened, it managed to stay away and we were able to watch the three-hour parade without getting wet.

It was an amazing parade, one I will never forget. As usual, the local citizens and brotherhoods went all out with magnificent costumes, fabulous floats and heart stopping entertainment. 

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Happy Easter wherever you are and however you celebrate. It will be a different Easter for most of us as we will be staying in and connecting by social media. Today I’m being featured on Sally Cronin’s site as she holds an Easter parade. See if you recognize teenage me. Some wonderful songs featured as well. Enjoy the post and eat all the chocolate you want. We deserve it!

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.

US Author Nancy Klein 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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