Darlene Foster's Blog

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I am delighted to have as my guest today, John Howell, a renowned author and long-time blogging friend. He is here to tell you about his latest book, The Last Drive. I, like many readers, have been patiently waiting for the release of this book as I enjoyed the first one very much. Check out all of John’s books as well as his entertaining blog where he allows his two adorable dogs to post once a week.

I am so pleased to be with you today, Darlene. I want to thank you for helping spread the word about The Last Drive. I have been impressed by the number of countries your Amanda stories have taken us. On each trip, your reader learns about the country and can get a feeling for the adventure. Hopefully, the readers of this book will have a similar experience since Lucifer seems to enjoy sending our heroes on trips.


Here is the blurb and then we can get to a short excerpt from the book.


The Blurb
In the sequel to Eternal Road – The final stop, Sam and James are reunited to look for two souls, Ryan and Eddie. Ryan was killed in Afghanistan, trying to avoid a schoolyard with his crippled plane. Eddie Rickenbacker, Ryan’s hero, is to guide Ryan to his Eternal Home, and now both are missing.

The higher-ups believe that there has been some interference in Ryan and Eddie’s journey by Lucifer, so Sam and James have the task of finding Ryan and Eddie to get them back on the road despite the evil interference. Unfortunately, the machinations designed to prevent Ryan and Eddy from completing their journey take the pair to horrifying testing grounds.

The places visited represent the best work of the Devil. They are the trenches of World War I in France, gladiators at the Roman Coliseum, the sinking Titanic in 1912, Hiroshima 45 minutes before the bomb, and the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943.

This book is for you if you like plenty of action, strong characters, time travel, and a touch of spiritual and historical fiction. So, join Sam and James as they try to find the missing souls while staying one step ahead of the Prince of Darkness, who is determined to destroy all that is good.

An Excerpt


Sam and James jump at the sound of a locker slamming. They turn around. Lucifer stands with one hand on his hip and the other pressed flat against the locker he just slammed. Casually, he leans against the cabinets with one foot crossed over the other. “My, my, my. Look who the cat dragged in. My old friends Sam and James.”

James and Sam stand with their mouths open. The devil can see them, which leaves them amazed and trying to make sense of what’s happening.


“What is the matter? That old cat got your tongue?” Lucifer laughs at his joke.


“W-we were just looking around.” James’s voice sounds as if he’s ten years old all over again.


“Oh, yeah. A couple of God’s weenies just happen to be wandering around a locker room at the flipping Green Bay Packers.”


Sam takes a step toward Satan. “Whatever we’re doing is none of your business.”


Lucifer uncrosses his feet. “Want to bet, sweet cheeks.”

James moves alongside Sam. “You be careful with that language.”


The devil smiles. “Or what? You going to beat me up, little man?”


James takes a step toward Lucifer. “I just might. Have you ever been socked in the nose?”


“I have not had the pleasure, and nor will I.”


“Keep insulting Sam, and you will.”


“Shiver, shiver. You are talking to the Lord of the Underworld, not some kid on the corner. I advise you to take it down a notch, or maybe you might like to come and visit my place for a while.”


Sam grins. “You don’t have that power over us, Lucifer. Why not end this game?”


Satan scoffs. “Oh, and tell you where old Ryan and Eddie are, I suppose?”


Sam slaps her thigh. “I knew you were behind their disappearance. I told the Archangel that same thing.”


“The Archangel? How is old droopy drawers?”


“I could summon him if you wish.”


“No, that will be fine. Do you two want some information on the whereabouts of Eddie and Ryan or not?”


Sam steps back and takes James’s arm, causing him to move away as well. “Yes, we do.”


The devil scratches his head. “Right this minute? That is hard to say.”


“What do you mean, ‘Hard to say?’”


Lucifer looks at his nails. “You know how this travel thing is these days. Your boy Ryan wanted to visit France during World War One. It seems he has some kind of hero worship of Eddie and wanted to fly with him. Since he refused to join my team, I sent him to France. By the way, that war was delicious in the amount of useless carnage waged on those battlefields.”


A Link to the Trailer

You Tube https://youtu.be/HEUninXiibI


Buy Links
The Last Drive is available in paper and Kindle editions on Amazon. Here are the universal links. The Kindle edition is on sale for 99¢ through mid-February.
Kindle https://mybook.to/FYmkKr
Paper https://mybook.to/BCsWV

Author Bio


John is an award-winning author who after an extensive business career began writing full-time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written six other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Author links


Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241
Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave
Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell
Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell
BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/john-w-howell

Eternal Road Buy links
Kindle Universal link  mybook.to/EternalRoad
Paper universal link mybook.to/Eternalroadpaper

My review of Eternal Road: The Final Stop

There is a lot packed into this gripping novel. A combination of time travel, mystery, paranormal and romance. There are laughter and tears as James looks for his eternal home with the help of his deceased childhood love, Sam. I love time travel and enjoyed following James and Sam as they travel back to the days of the Wild West and WWII as well as into the future controlled by robots. The main characters are very real, even though they are spirits. The book is well-written and flows well, with a satisfying ending. It left me wanting more.

My review of The Last Drive

I loved the first book, Eternal Road, and was happy to see that James and Sam are back battling the nasty old devil. This time they are joined by Ryan (a recently deceased pilot) and Eddie (as in Eddie Rickenbacker, decorated WW1 fighter pilot). The devil wants Ryan’s soul and James and Sam will do anything to prevent him from getting his hands on it and seeing Ryan find his eternal home. Along the way, they encounter some terrible times and places in history like Hiroshima, the Titanic, the Roman Collesium and Auschwitz. Will the devil win this time? This is a battle between good and evil that seems impossible to win. The author has created an incredibly strong female character in Sam, one of the toughest angels I’ve encountered. Although this book can be read as a stand-alone, I would suggest reading Eternal Road first, you’ll be glad you did.

Photo by Matthias Cooper on Pexels.com

I have been honoured to take part in Ari Meghlen’s Advent Calendar Story Train. What is the story train about? Basically, a set of authors have been given the prompt ‘The Gift’ and have one thousand words to write a story. Each day of advent, one story is released. When Christmas 2022 arrives, there will be twenty-four flash fiction stories of different genres and different styles that represent the phrase ‘The Gift.’ Links to all of the stores can be found here (some have not been released at the time of posting!). Today is my turn and here is my contribution to the Advent Calendar Story Train.

The Gift by Darlene Foster

Cory Henderson dropped to his knees and studied the pile of parcels under the tree.


“Just a few more minutes, please Mom,” he begged. Like most nine-year-olds on Christmas Eve,
he didn’t want to go to bed.


He counted the packages. One from Uncle Bob; usually something to do with sports. Two from
Grandma and Grandpa; always the best because they knew exactly what he wanted. One from Mom and
one from Dad. If they paid attention to his hints, a PlayStation was sure to be in one of those packages.
Something from his older brother, away studying in China. The old couple across the street, who he did
errands for, dropped off a small package. One from Aunt Margaret and Uncle Joe, another from his
cousins Jim and Jeff and an odd-shaped one from his best friend, Jerry. Yup, ten presents for him to
open on Christmas morning.


A bright light in his window woke him up from a dream of opening hundreds of presents. At
first, he thought it was the light from Santa’s sleigh. Then, he thought perhaps a spaceship had landed
nearby. He got out of bed and tiptoed to the window where he could see it was not Santa’s sleigh or a
spaceship causing the brilliant light. Mesmerized, Cory stared at the flames leaping out of the roof of the
house next door.


He suddenly remembered that two boys lived in that house. The family moved in two months
ago from another country. They spoke with an accent and kept to themselves. The boys were younger
than him, about five and seven. He felt a knot in his stomach


What if the people were still in the house?


Just as he heard the wail of fire trucks, two hooded figures ran out of the front door. Each adult,
covered with a blanket, carried a child. The blankets appeared to be wet when they dropped to the
ground. The family stood shivering in their pajamas, staring at their home ablaze.


Cory ran out of his room calling, “Mom! Dad!”

His parents, already up, frantically pulled coats out of the closet.


His dad threw a jacket his way. “Hurry, put this on and go outside. And stay well away from the
fire.”


The fire department arrived. In no time, long hoses sprayed water into the flames. Cory’s mom
handed out warm coats. He noticed that even wearing his parkas from last year and the year before, the
boys still shivered.


Heavy smoke filled the air. It smelt weird. Kind of like the time his mom burnt the chicken and
the smoke alarm went off. The fire was under control just as it started to snow. All that was left was a
burnt-out shell.


Corey’s mom motioned everyone to follow her back to their place.


She served hot chocolate and homemade gingerbread cookies. The neighbours, Mr. and Mrs.
Zafrani, spoke quietly. The boys, Omar and Jamal, didn’t say anything. Their large brown eyes starred at
the Christmas tree covered with twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments. Beds were made up, the little
boys in his brother’s room and their parents in the spare room. As the boys were about to go to bed, they
started to cry.


“There, there,” said their mother as she hugged them. “Don’t cry. At least we are all safe and
warm.” She thanked Cory and his parents and they all went to bed.


Cory felt sick. It was Christmas Eve and they had lost everything. They would have no presents
to open in the morning. How would he feel if it happened to him? He tossed and turned and no longer
looked forward to the morning. How could he open all those gifts when they had nothing?


He had an idea, jumped out of bed and put on the light. He pulled out coloured paper, a pair of
scissors and some Christmas stickers from his desk drawer. Two gift tags made, he wrote Omar on one
and Jamal on the other. He stopped for a minute and then made two more. Tiptoeing into the dark living
room, he pulled out four of his gifts from under the tree. He replaced the tags with new ones. Corey
went back to bed and fell asleep with a smile on his face.


The next thing he heard was his mom saying, “Wake up. It’s Christmas morning. Omar and
Jamal are up already.”


Corey never slept in on Christmas morning.


He raced into the cosy living room where his dad had started a fire in the fireplace. Jamal and
Omar stared at the tree as if they had never seen one before. Cory reached under the tree.


His mom gasped and said, “Maybe we should wait to open the gifts.”


Corey ignored her and handed a gift to each of the spellbound boys.


The oldest boy read out his tag. “To Jamal. From Santa.” His eyes grew wide.


“Open it,” said Cory, hardly able to contain his excitement.


Jamal carefully removed the wrapping from his gift as if he were undressing a baby. His round
face beamed when he discovered a PlayStation.


His dad looked at Corey with raised eyebrows. He turned to Omar holding onto his gift like it
would disappear if he loosened his grip. “Don’t you want to see what’s in your package?”


The young boy ripped the package open and smiled with glee as he pulled out a baseball glove.
“I love to play baseball!” He slid his left hand in and punched his right fist into the mitt.


Cory’s mom looked over at her son with tears in her eyes. “I think you deserve to open one of
your presents, dear.”


Fun and laughter filled the rest of the morning. Cory loved all six of his gifts, but the look on the
faces of those boys as they discovered gifts under the tree for them was the best gift of all.

Welcome to the Advent Calendar Story Train, where you can read through 24 stories under the theme The Gift. Thank you for reading today’s story. The next one will be available to read on December 9th, titled “The Annual Giving“.  The link will be active tomorrow when the post goes live.

If you missed yesterday’s you can go and read it here.

I am being featured today on Bernadette’s New Classic Recipe blog where I share a Christmas dinner disaster story and a favourite recipe. Enjoy! If you wish to share a Christmas dinner disaster in the comments below, that would be fun.

If you would like to listen to me read from Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral check out Rebecca Bud’s Tea Toast & Trivia blog. https://teatoasttrivia.com/2022/09/08/season-4-episode-38-darlene-foster-reading-amanda-in-france-fire-in-the-cathedral/

While there check out some of her other podcasts. They are all great!

I am pleased to be part of Jacqui Murray’s Book Blast for her third and final book in the Dawn of Humanity series, Natural Selection. Once again Jacqui has penned an exciting story about our prehistoric ancestors. She will also share with us how early humans told time. The research Jacqui does for these books is phenomenal.

Summary
In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribe members captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events. Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Book information:
Title and author: Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray
Series: Book 3 in the Dawn of Humanity series
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Editor: Anneli Purchase
Available print or digital) at: http://a-fwd.com/asin=B0B9KPM5BW

Author bio:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to the United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/
Blog: https://worddreams.wordpress.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher
Twitter: http://twitter.com/worddreams
Website: https://jacquimurray.net

How Did Early Man Tell Time?

Like today’s most primitive communities and survivalists, both living without the technology that ticked off hours and minutes, earliest man had no concept of quantifiable time. He didn’t need it when the most important metric was how much daylight remained to finish hunting and gathering and find a safe place to sleep. He told tribe members when he would return–or they
should–well, I’ll tell you how that happened later in this article. When the sun slept, our primeval ancestors slept, leaving whatever chores remained for the next day and the sun’s return.

In Natural Selection, that usually sufficed, but if a character needed more than that, say to indicate more definitively when s/he would return:

– s/he could point to a place in the sky along the sun’s forward path, the inference being when sun reached that position, s/he would be back.
– s/he could place a finger–or a hand–overhead, next to the sun, inferring that when the sun moved the width of a finger or a hand, s/he would return.
– at night, the Moon’s progression across the night sky could be used to indicate how long before the sun reappeared.

For longer periods of time, beyond a stretch of daylight, early man used the Moon’s face. It changed nightly and with regularity. The disappearance and reappearance of the Moon, the size of the orb, made it a reliable marker of how long something took or the period before something happened, like herds returning or hunters arriving from a long trip.

How long is a hand or finger? So how much time is inferred by a finger or a hand placed next to the sun? A finger is roughly
fifteen minutes and four fingers—a hand—an hour. Test it yourself. Place a finger next to the sun. The sun will take approximately fifteen minutes to reach the far side of your finger. If there is one hand between the sun and the earth, it means there is one hour until the sun sinks below the horizon. 

Early man knew that the sun moved at the same speed across the sky which meant a hand or both hands always meant the passage of the same amount of time. What he didn’t know was why. Here’s the reasoning he wouldn’t learn for thousands of years, but will be clear to you:
Take your height, for early man about 5 feet.
Multiply it by 1.5 = 7.5
Find the square root = 2.7
That means 2.7 miles to the horizon, or about two hours of walking on their bandy legs.

Do you have any tips for telling time without a watch or phone?

What readers are saying about Natural Selection

“In the third book of the series, Lucy is again beset with challenges.
Besides Lucy struggling to keep her tribe safe, and free the tribe members that were stolen by an enemy tribe—plenty to grab and hold a reader’s attention—there were substories hurtling through the book with characters I grew to care about. A Canis tracking another Canis to be her mate. A Homotherium kit looking for a pack. And Lucy’s former pack members that have been enslaved and are looking for a way to survive and escape their bonds.

Once again, Ms. Murray has woven prehistory into a lovely, understandable story. One of her signature themes is the blending of different cultures into one tribe. Proving that in spite of our differences we can get along.
On a personal note, I loved that Boah said goodbye. (You’ll know what I’m referring to when you read it.) And last but not least my favorite quote: “If Night Sun knew, it wasn’t telling.”

NATURAL SELECTION is a must-read for all Murray fans, of which I am one, prehistory buffs AND for folks that just like a well-told tale.” Sandra Cox

“The final book of the Dawn of Humanity series ends on a positive note though I suspect that Lucy’s story of survival in the prehistoric world will continue to be riddled with danger and challenges. As the title suggests, not all the branches of primitive mankind will survive and those who do will depend on their ability to develop new skills and think strategically.

The plot is straightforward with two main threads. The first is Lucy and her group’s continuing search for a sustainable home base. The second is their plan to rescue past members of her tribe from Man-who-preys before they become so weak from hunger that they’re killed. Lucy is the main character, but not the only point of view, and other characters are frequently brought to the forefront. These include her two-legged group members as well as those with four.

Murray’s research continues to add depth and realism to the read, and I found it as fascinating as I did in the first book. Our ancestors had it tough, and their lives were intricately entwined with the world around them. I appreciated that Murray didn’t spare our modern sensibilities. Grooming bugs from each other’s skin, eating rotten meat, and “fear poop” aren’t very glamorous, but they added to the authenticity of the story. Her word choices—to describe the harsh environment, its rhythms and wild creatures, and the nature and skill of each member of her diverse group—bring life on Earth 1.8 million years ago into vivid relief.

For readers who enjoy a meticulously researched primitive world and the remarkable challenges faced by our evolutionary ancestors, I highly recommend this series. It’s fascinating.”
D.W. Peach

In case you haven’t seen this, I’m a guest on Teri Polen’s terrific Bad Moon Rising series. Check out the spookiest ghost story I’ve heard. Read some of the other guest’s interviews as well. Happy Halloween!!

Books and Such

I’m a big fan of this author’s Amanda series. I haven’t traveled to all the places Amanda has, but after reading the book I feel like I have. They’re so well-researched they could double as travel guides. I follow this author on social media and get to see adorable pics of her fur babies, but if you haven’t met them yet, today is your chance. Welcome Darlene Foster!

Would you rather visit a haunted house or a haunted graveyard?

A haunted graveyard. (Aren’t they all haunted? I mean, they are full of dead people, right?) I love graveyards and spend a lot of time in them. They are outside and easy to escape if things get tense. You can get locked inside a haunted house. Yikes!

What is the spookiest ghost story you’ve ever heard?

The story about a young couple who are making out in a car when they…

View original post 423 more words

I am pleased to be featured on Judith Barrow’s blog where I share a memory of a different time and place. Judith is an accomplished writer of family sagas and runs this wonderful “places in our memories” series on her blog.

Judith Barrow

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today I’m welcoming Darlene Foster, a friend I’ve known online for quite a while, and had the great pleasure in meeting and getting to know her in real life at Barb Taub’s writing retreat on Arran, a few weeks ago.

Darlene is here to tell us about the time her baby brother was born during the blizzards at her near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

I remember when my brother, Timothy, was born. It had been a typical cold and snowy prairie winter. Blizzards created impassable road conditions. Mom expected the third member of our family to arrive in early February. Dad was concerned that when the time came, the…

View original post 674 more words

The launch date for Casey Holland #7, A Gold Satin Murder (a novella) by Debra Purdy Kong is on Thursday, September 8th. I love this series and am pleased to have fellow Canadian author, Debra Purdy Kong, here as a guest to tell us more about her latest book. Check out the other books in the series here

With six published full-length mysteries in the Casey Holland series, why write a novella?

Members of my writer’s group asked me this question when I brought the first few pages for feedback. The answer is that I wanted to stretch my creativity with this series. Although the earlier Casey Holland mysteries do have lighter moments, they are serious stories. I decided to switch the focus to a fun, light story with serious moments. To do this, I needed to create an uncomplicated plot and fewer characters. Since this is still a whodunit, readers can follow Casey along in trying to figure out the killer’s identity.

While working on an early draft of A Gold Satin Murder I’d been writing other novellas (generally 17,500-40,000 words) for a small press. I discovered a love for this length, not only as a writer but as a reader. When life is frantic, it takes me nearly a month to read a 300+ page book. I often forget the roles and relationships of the characters as well as the subplots. So, it seemed logical to write a book that could be read in one or two sittings. From a writer’s standpoint, revision is a quicker process. Where it might take me from two to six months to edit the second draft of a full-length novel, a novella can be edited in a few days.

The idea for this book popped up over six years ago, however, other projects kept me from working on this novella consistently. Given the many challenges facing people these days, it seems timely to release a light, fun story. If I can bring a smile to a reader’s face, then I’ve achieved my goal.

Launch day is September 8, but you can pre-order now:

Amazon: https://mybook.to/AGoldSatinMurder

Kobo Canada: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Kobo U.S. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6443255297

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-gold-satin-murder-debra-purdy-kong/1141951058?ean=2940166433930

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Debra_Purdy_Kong_A_Gold_Satin_Murder?id=FxF_EAAAQBAJ

Blurb for A Gold Satin Murder:

Transit cop Casey Holland has never met a bus passenger like the charming artist and exotic dancer, Eduardo. The bus driver Lily has certainly befriended him. But when Eduardo’s charged with murder, Lily’s caught in the middle of his legal trouble. Afraid of losing her job and custody of her son, she begs Casey for help in proving Eduardo’s innocence.

Casey’s search for answers takes her and her best friend Kendal to a troupe of strippers known as Man Cave. While the men are busy peeling off their clothes, Casey’s peeling back layers of secrets and betrayal. Nuttier than her usual adventures, the risk is just as deadly in this seventh installment of the Casey Holland transit mysteries.

Debra’s Bio:

Debra Purdy Kong’s volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs inspired her to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Her employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provided the background for her Casey Holland transit security novels.

Debra has published short stories in a variety of genres as well as personal essays, and articles for publications such as Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul, B.C. Parent Magazine, and The Vancouver Sun. She is a facilitator for the Creative Writing Program through Port Moody Recreation and a long-time member of Crime Writers of Canada. She lives in British Columbia, Canada.

Connect with Debra at:

Blog: https://debrapurdykong.wordpress.com/

Newsletter: https://sendfox.com/debrapurdykong

Website: www.debrapurdykong.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraPurdyKong

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraPurdyKongAuthor

Email: dpurdykong@gmail.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.ca/Debra-Purdy-Kong/e/B000APLEFU/

I was a beta reader for this story and just loved it. Here is a sneak peek at the first chapter.

A Gold Satin Murder by Debra Purdy Kong

After a decade of security work for Mainland Public Transport, Casey Holland had learned that troublesome passengers were usually rude, loud, and poorly dressed. But the gorgeous, broad-shouldered man in the charcoal suit, white shirt, and bright red tie strutting down the aisle was a new, intriguing challenge.

The moment the man spotted Casey, he gave her a broad, toothy smile. Cool. Her silky, low-cut tank top and dangling crystal earrings were doing their job. Undercover assignments rarely involved dressing up, but passenger complaints about a hot guy who’d been badgering women to model for his paintings required a different fashion choice. Besides, the bus was way too warm this late-July evening. The less she had to wear the better.

Casey winked at the man, then tilted her head toward the empty seat next to her. He slowed his pace and nodded to the gaping middle-aged woman he passed by. Judging from a quick survey, the man had caught the attention of most passengers. The men didn’t look as impressed as the women, though.

“Hola, señorita.” Gold-flecked brown eyes glanced at her hands as he sat down. “I am Eduardo from Ecuador.”

“Casey. From Vancouver,” she replied. “How are ya?” To reveal she was a señora who’d been happily married for just over a year might put him off, so the wedding rings stayed home.

“Excelente.” He beamed. “I am here only three months, but I am in love with Vancouver. It has many interesting people.”

“That it does.” His cedarwood and vanilla cologne sent a jolt of nostalgia through Casey. When Dad was alive, she occasionally gave him a bottle of something similarly scented for Father’s Day. She sat up straighter and zeroed in on Eduardo. Not the time for reflection.

“I apologize if my English is not so good,” Eduardo said.

“It sounds fine to me.” She smiled. “Do you live in this part of the city?”

“Si. Only one block away. I love to walk and ride the buses and talk to people.”

He’d have many opportunities to do exactly that in Vancouver’s densely populated West End. Thanks to nearby Stanley Park, the popular English Bay beach, and many eateries, the area attracted tons of tourists as well as visitors from other areas of the Lower Mainland.

“Your eyes!” Eduardo slapped his hand over his heart. “La violeta. Extraordinario! I have not seen such a shade before. I am professional artista. May I paint you? It would be great honor! You are so be-eau-tiful.”

“Thank you.” Great honor and beautiful were the exact words two of the complainants had used in their written statements. “So, how many women have you approached about painting their portraits, especially while riding this bus?”

“Qué? Eduardo’s smile faded. “Why do you ask me this?”

“I’m with Mainland Public Transport security.” She showed him her ID card. “We’ve had harassment complaints about you. One woman threatened to involve the police if it happened again.”

His eyes widened. “This cannot be.”

“The complaints said you wouldn’t take no for an answer until they either changed seats or left the bus.”

Eduardo sat back in his seat. “I am stupefied!”

Casey didn’t buy the naïve act. “Harassment of any type on MPT buses is against company policy.”

He fidgeted, not quite meeting her gaze. “I am just a single man who loves ladies and to create art.”

Eduardo produced a business card depicting an elegantly designed maple tree with crimson and tangerine leaves. But anyone could create a card and pass himself off as an artist.

“Is difficult to find models in new city. Art schools are filled up.” He frowned. “And many ladies choose to sit next to me and ask what I do to earn money.”

She believed him. Given the lusty stares a couple of women were tossing his way, Eduardo had probably found more than a few willing models and dates.

“Is it wrong to talk about art, or to ask a be-eau-tiful lady on a date? I might break bus rules, but I am not breaking real laws, no?”

Casey sighed. “Are you and I going to have a problem?”

He raised his hands, palms facing her. “I do not want trouble, but I must pursue my art.”

“Eduardo, the rules are there for a reason. They also give me the authority to kick you off any MPT bus if you’re breaking them.” Casey paused. “If you’re going to discuss portrait painting, then be clear about what you want. If you’re turned down, then I strongly advise you to leave the passenger alone. I assume you expect to be paid for your portraits?”

Eduardo nodded. “I do this not only for money but to find true soulmate.” He lowered his head. “I am not so lucky in love. Is heartbreaking road filled with big potholes.”

“Uh-huh.” She studied him. “Do you think you’ll find love on a bus?”

“I search everywhere.”’

Eduardo’s expression and demeanor seemed sincere, but she had her doubts about this guy.

“You must have tried dating apps,” she said.

“Si.” He grimaced. “They were not good. Is better to meet ladies in person.” He gave her a whimsical look. “Everywhere.”

Meaning he intended to keep chatting up women on MPT buses. Eduardo might be better looking and more polite than other rule breakers, but his resistant attitude was all too familiar. She’d be seeing him again, no doubt, and their second encounter wouldn’t be as cordial.

“Just be careful about what you say,” she cautioned. “Misunderstandings happen easily.”

The corners of Eduardo’s full, sensuous mouth turned down. “What shall I talk about? The boring weather? Is what others do.”

“Eduardo, buddy, unless someone speaks to you first, it might be best if you didn’t talk at all.”

Order your copy of Gold Satin Murder to learn more about the charming Eduardo.

You don’t have to have read the other books to enjoy this one!

One of the most common questions asked of a writer is, “Where do you get your ideas from?”

Fellow Canadian author, Allan Hudson, runs an interesting series on his blog called, The Story Behind the Story. Recently, I was honoured to be featured on his blog where I talk about how I got ideas for my latest book, Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral

The Story Behind the Story: My dream to visit the romantic city of Paris came true when we took our dog on a road trip to visit friends living on the outskirts of the city. Paris, and the surrounding area, was everything I imagined it to be and more. Our friends kindly took the time to show us around this fabulous city as well as Monet’s gardens in Giverny and the amazing Palace of Versailles. I was so excited and knew it would be a perfect setting for Amanda’s next adventure.

Hop over and read more about my inspiration, and what I like and don’t like about writing.

http://allanhudson.blogspot.com/2022/08/the-story-behind-story-with-author.html

Allan Hudson is an accomplished author from New Brunswick, Canada. I recently read his novel Father.

Blurb for Father by Allan Hudson

In 1942 everything is going good for Tanner Hill. He has a good job, two healthy sons and a wife who loves him. As he makes lots of extra cash with his moonshine, he can afford many luxuries his neighbours cannot. And he’s not worried about conscription.
However, he soon realizes good things do not last forever. One argument after church with a disgruntled man with revenge on his mind and Tanner’s world is turned upside down. Forced into making a choice, Tanner chooses to follow his brothers and enlists. He leaves for the fighting so far away as a private in the Royal Canadian Engineers.
It will be three years until Tanner returns home. It won’t be the same.

Here is my review:

A quick read that carries a punch. There are no wasted words in this tale about family and the effects of war on relationships. The characters are real and relatable. The main character, Tanner Hill, is a flawed individual, but one you can’t help but love. The author paints a picture, with carefully chosen words, that take the reader to a specific time and place. An enjoyable read, I recommend this book. – Darlene Foster

Available on all Amazon sites

Another great review for Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral by Toni Pike. Toni is a multi-genre Australian author who enjoys writing page-turning fiction for adults, hilarious books for children, and non-fiction. Please check out her blog and her books. I am so delighted that readers all over the world are enjoying my latest book.

Toni Pike

I was delighted to hear that Darlene Foster had written another exciting adventure in the Amanda Travels series – and this time it is set in Paris, one of my favourite cities. It’s available now for pre-order, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive an advance copy for my honest review.

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