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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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. 

We arrived in plenty of time to find a tapas bar for a snack and a drink. On the way we found some of the parade participants who were happy to pose for pictures. 

Later, on the way to our parade seats, we encountered more participants moving toward the start of the parade and were able to get up close and personal pictures. An unexpected treat. 

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The Blue Brotherhood, Paso Azule, wearing their magnificent hand-embroidered robes

 

Note the intricate detail on the robes, embroidered with gold thread.

As usual, all ages were involved in the celebration.

Drummer boys

All types of people from the time of Jesus were represented including Romans, Egyptians, Persians, Hebrews, and Africans.

The costaleros, members of the brotherhood, reverently carrying their Paso, a float depicting a scene from the New Testament

This was so exciting and emotional. But it was nothing compared to the spectacle we were about to see. I will tell you more about the actual parade in the next post.

I wish everyone a Happy Easter!!

To be continued….

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.

On my recent trip back to my home province of Alberta, I was fortunate to visit two schools where I did presentations, readings, and workshops. I may have mentioned before that doing school presentations is my favourite part of being a writer. These two visits were very special.

I was invited by a school in Airdrie, Alberta to visit as the Grade 4 classes are currently reading Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. I did four presentations to the grade four classes at Herons Crossing School the day after I landed in Calgary. The students were delightful and devoted Amanda Travels fans. Some had read all the books. They said they enjoyed the use of cliffhangers in the stories. I love that kind of feedback. They were all well behaved and asked very good questions.

Students eagerly listening while I read from Amanda in Alberta.

A few days later I visited Irvine School, just outside Medicine Hat, where I did a presentation in the library to about 70 grade 3 and 4 students. After the recess, I did a workshop with one of the Grade 4 classes.

This was a double special visit as I went to Irvine School myself many years ago and it is now the school my great-granddaughter attends. It is not the same building I attended as the original school burnt down in 1989 and has been replaced by a modern building. But it was a memorable visit for me. I brought along my old high school sweater and yearbook to show the children that I had once attended that very school.

Presentation in the library

Considering it was just a couple of days before the Christmas break, the students were very attentive and asked great questions. After sitting on the floor for quite some time, the teacher had them get up and do a few exercises.

After the presentation, many came up to ask more questions.

Later, I facilitated a workshop on using all the senses in writing. Using a photograph as a prompt, we brainstormed words describing the five senses. Everyone participated. Later they were given ten minutes to hand write something based on a picture, using as many of the senses as possible. Some shared their writing. I was amazed at how eager they were to do the assignment and how they produced such incredible work in a short time. A great example of how children still love to read and write.

Facilitating a workshop with eager participants is so much fun.

My oldest grandson was my driver, helper, and photographer. He was a huge help.

My grandson and his niece (my great-granddaughter)

I was so impressed with the school, the teachers and the staff. There was such a positive vibe in the place. Wonderful quotes decorated the hallway walls.

And look what I found on a door in the girl’s washroom!

Talk about positive reinforcement!

I went back to my old school and found that the future is in good hands. 

I was invited to do a book reading and signing at a local coffee shop called Cakes ‘n’ Bakes near my home in Spain. It was a huge success. Many cups of coffee, tea, delicious treats and books were sold to happy customers. The children enjoyed the two readings and everyone had a fun time. A great way to spend an afternoon. I was pleased to see Amanda’s travel adventures in the hands of many new readers. There will be some Amanda books under the tree this Christmas as well. One grandmother said she was going to read the books she bought, then send them off to her grandchildren. Here are a few pictures of the day and two short videos of me reading, thanks to Maureen Moss.

Cakes ‘n’ Bakes coffee shop in Los Dolses

Lemon meringue cupcakes

A happy customer

Eager listeners

 

Christmas shopping

Books and yummy cakes

Christine, the proprietor with her homemade mince tarts. So popular she had to make another batch mid-afternoon.

Salted caramel brownies to die for

A fellow author and supporter

 

Thank you to everyone who attended in person and in spirit!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and family.

I am incredibly thankful for all those who support my writing endeavours!

Happy Easter!! Here is an article I wrote on Easter in Spain from my archives. Sally has kindly featured it on her site. If you haven’t read it before, you might enjoy the celebrations of Semana Santa. Wishing everyone a wonderful day!

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Darlene Foster shares a post from her archives that brought back memories for me of our seventeen years in Spain. Easter is a big festival and is an occasion for all the family to take to the streets.

Semana Santa: Easter in Spain by Darlene Foster

The week before and including Easter is called Semana Santa here in Spain and is the largest religious festival of the year. Elaborate processions take place throughout the week in most cities and towns. During Holy week religious sculptures are taken out of the churches and paraded through the town to the main cathedral. Some of these precious sculptures,created by well known Spanish artists, are hundreds of years old. They are mounted on floats called pasos, surrounded with flowers and candles. Portapasos (or float-carriers) wearing traditional costumes, carry the heavy floats through the streets lined with spectators. No large trucks transport these floats, only…

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As you could see from my previous posts, I had a wonderful time back in Canada visiting family and friends. But the trip was also to promote my books, more specifically my latest release, Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind. I had a lot of fun at the pre-planned events and thought I would share them with you.

I was invited by the Vancouver Public Library to be a workshop leader at their annual one week Writers and Book Camp held at the main branch, downtown Vancouver. This is my favourite library and I was honoured to be able to share some of my writing knowledge with the eager participants. These 9 to 13-year olds were serious writers. I created a workshop called Writing – It’s More Than What You See. We discussed how using all the senses makes writing more effective. I also spoke about how I use photographs to inspire my writing and gave them examples. I showed them one of my pictures and had them write for fifteen minutes, using as many senses as possible. Then they shared their work. I was amazed at what they produced in such a short time. The participants said they enjoyed the workshop and learned a lot. I had so much fun delivering it.

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The Vancouver Public Library, an amazing building built to look like the Colosseum

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A ‘place of books and learning

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All set up and ready for the eager students

I then went on to Calgary where I did a presentation and book signing at the Shawnessy Branch of the Calgary Public Library. The event was well attended and I sold all the books I brought along! The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. Another great experience.

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Display at a Calgary Library

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Some attentive listeners at the presentation

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Some of the attendees were cousins. So great to see them.

Next stop was Coles Indigo Bookstore in my hometown, Medicine Hat. I saw so many folks I hadn’t seen for a long time, former neighbours, childhood friends, relatives and even my first landlady from fifty years ago. I sold out of books!

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As you can see, I had help.

Back to BC where I held my book launch at Albany Books in Tsawwassen. This bookstore has been so supportive of me and other local authors over the years. The staff are fantastic. Even though it was a sunny Saturday, the last long weekend of the summer, many people came out to chat and buy books.

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With my amazing publisher, Michelle. She is like a fairy godmother and makes all this happen!

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Book launch for Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind

I was invited to do a presentation at a BC Association of Travel Writers MeetUp where I spoke about How to Turn Your Travels into a Series of Travel Adventure Books to a sold-out crowd. Everyone enjoyed the PowerPoint presentation and many great questions were asked. Great to see many travel writer friends and meet new people.

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Since I was leaving after the first week of school, I was only able to visit one school this time. It was my sixth time to do a presentation at Holly Elementary in Surrey. The students there are huge Amanda Travels fans and some of the grade sevens even dropped in as they wanted to hear what Amanda was up to. I enjoy visiting this school with students from diverse cultures. They loved the theme of the latest book and when I showed them the trailer for Amanda in New Mexico,  they stood up and clapped!

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Presenting to a captive audience of about 100 at Holly Elementary School

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As always, they asked many good questions.

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My last event was a book signing at Indigo-Chapters on Granville Street in Vancouver, the largest bookstore in BC. It was a dream come true to hold an event at this bookstore. Many people stopped by my table to chat and buy books. There are many new Amanda fans now. I sold all but two of the books in stock. Happy days.

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A friend helping out at the book signing

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Signing books at Indigo-Chapters, another dream come true.

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A fabulous sign in Indigo Chapters

I got to spend time in libraries, bookstores and schools, my favourite places, as well as meet some amazing people. It was a lot of work but well worth it.

Don´t forget to enter the giveaway 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4e6fad2120/?

 

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In honour of all my Irish friends, and those who would like to be Irish, I thought I would write this post. I just happened to have finished reading a delightful book, lent to me by a good friend at work, called  McGillicuddy McGotham by Leonard  Wibberley  According to a review on Goodreadsit is a delightful tale of the first leprechaun to visit the United States. A quick, quaint read about a time when the world was a truly foreign place and local lore and legends were not universally understood.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It was written in the 1950’s but the wit of the author and ideas presented are timeless. A great book to read at the end of a long tough day. It will definitely make you laugh out loud. (notice I wrote that out in full!)

Niamh Clune has written a poignant story Children of Lir on her blog that is well worth reading 

http://ontheplumtree.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/for-st-patricks-day-the-children-of-lir-by-niamh-clune/

There are some great Irish quotes on The Secret Keeper’s site http://thesecretkeeper.net/2013/03/17/celebration-of-the-green

This is one of them.

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I hope you are all enjoying this special day whether you are Irish or not!

Flat Ruthie and I had an amazing time this weekend. We attended Cirque du Soleil with my dear husband on Saturday evening.  It was amazing. From the moment we saw the big tent we got excited.  The performance was incredible, the costumes remarkable  and the music astounding.  We were transported into another world, one of magic, suspense, colour and incredible acts of human talent.

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The performance we saw was Amaluna, based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  To see some video clips, visit the website http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/amaluna/tickets/vancouver.aspx This will give you a glimpse of what we experienced.

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The entire evening was a lot of fun. We took the sky train downtown and then walked to the site. After the show we walked back to the station. Lady Gaga was in town for a performance and the streets were full of Gaga fans all dressed up. It was wonderful to be amongst them and to feel the energy. I stopped to compliment a couple of young girls dressed for the show. We picked up fish and chips on the way home to complete the evening.  The tickets were a Christmas gift from me to my husband.  It turned out to be a perfect gift as he thoroughly enjoyed the performance as well as the company of me and Flat Ruthie!

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We don’t do things like this very often so it made it very special.

Is there anything you do once in a while that is extra special?


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