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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.

I love Halloween. It was so much fun as a kid to dress up and collect goodies. I still remember some of the costumes mom made for me, Little Bo Peep was my favourite. No store-bought costumes! Later, I had fun making costumes for my kids. A snoopy costume for my son was a big hit, as was a cute Little Red Riding Hood for my daughter. As they got older I made Kiss outfits for my son and his three friends. And a Teddy Bear costume for my daughter which she still wears when she goes to schools to teach pottery.

Mom continued making costumes for her grandkids and great-grandkids. She made a clown costume for my daughter that has been handed down over the years and recently her great-great-granddaughter wore it.

Clown costume made by mom

Most of the offices I worked in encouraged us to dress up for Halloween and I always enjoyed that. Here are a couple of my favourite costumes.

Jane Austen
Would you like your fortune told?
A scary pirate

Even the fur babies get to dress up. Here’s my grandpuppy Lola in her Batman costume.

I don’t read scary books (sorry Stephen King) or watch horror movies, although some are probably very well done. The books I write are not too frightening, except for Amanda in Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind which has a few spooky parts. But nothing that would keep kids up at night.

Here is a short excerpt.

Amanda stood in front of a door the map showed as the Santos Display Room.

“What’s in here?”

Along with Caleb and a couple of other students, she entered the dimly-lit room containing glass cabinets filled with pictures and statues of various saints. A sign explained how the families in Spanish America always
kept a shrine to a saint in their homes. The shrine often held Milagros, tiny silver shapes attached to statues of the saints. There were legs for people who couldn’t walk, eyes for those who had bad eyesight and animal
figures to wish a farmer a productive year with his flock.

Amanda was fascinated as she peered through the glass at small objects stuck on the figures.

She looked up and gasped. At the end of the narrow room stood a life-sized skeleton of a woman riding in a wooden cart. Amanda, heart beating, crept closer to the scary figure wearing a scraggly white wig and a long dark
robe. She carried a scythe in one hand and a globe in the other. On the wall beside the figure, a plaque told of Doña Sebastiana, the female saint of death, or Santa Muerte. During the Holy Week procession at Easter, this
female Grim Reaper was rolled out in her death cart and transported through the town. Parents would point her out and tell the children if they did not behave, Doña Sebastiana would come for them.

Amanda gulped and peered more closely at the horrible figure. She couldn’t understand why parents would want to scare their children like that.

‘Imagine the nightmares!’ Amanda thought.

Just then, everything went black. Something brushed Amanda’s shoulder. She froze.

“Caleb,” she whispered. “Is that you?”
There was no answer.
A cold breeze passed over her.

If you are looking for something to read or to read with the young children in your life, you might want to check it out.

Have a Happy Halloween!!

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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Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mothers and mother figures out there. It will be different this year as we can’t get together, but the love will be just as strong. Recently I was guest on Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Friends and Family series where she featured a post I wrote about my dear mom. For those of you who haven’t seen it, enjoy.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new posts from your archives with a theme of family and friends. Very important as our support system at the moment as many of us are isolated and out of physical touch. If you would like details on how to participate here is the link:Posts from Your Archives April 2020 Family and Friends

Author Darlene Foster shares memories of her mother, a tribute on Mother’s Day 2015, which despite being celebrated on different dates around the world, is a very important day of celebration.

The Gift of a Wonderful Mother by Darlene Foster

Mother´s day is a special day in many parts of the world although is not celebrated on the same day. Today it is Mother´s Day in Canada and the US and it was Mother´s Day in Spain last Sunday. In the UK, Mothering Sunday, sometimes known as Mother’s Day, is held on the…

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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!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Easter Parade with music, guests and some Easter food… and an opportunity for you to introduce yourself in the comment section along with your blog URL and one for Amazon for your books. I hope you will enjoy the next couple of days and for a brief moment it lightens the separation we are all experiencing from our normal lives, away from family and friends.

The theme for the parade is ‘Flashback’ and my guests have all sent in a photograph from the 1960s through to the 1980s, along with a music request. There will be singing along and dancing, and I hope you will join in.

Please help yourself to a free coffee as you pass by.

My first guest today is author and poet Annette Rochelle Aben with her unmistakeable smile and blonde hair, with a photo taken at the start of…

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Mother’s Day is celebrated on different days in various parts of the world but in Canada, USA, Australia and South Africa and possibly other countries, it is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. I love this day as I have been blessed with a very special mom. I wrote about her a couple of years ago here

I put together a little video of my special mom.

Of all the many jobs in my life, the best has been being a mom!! It wasn’t always easy but it was always worth it. I am so proud if these two. 

with number one son
with number one daughter
and now I’m a mom to this crazy fur baby who knows how to relax

Wishing all mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, aunts and mentors, a wonderful day as we celebrate motherhood in all its forms.

I promise this will be the last post about the fabulous Lorca Easter Parade. It’s just that the pictures didn’t entirely depict the excitement so I thought I would share a few of the videos I took. Performing horses and chariots need to be shown in action. So here are a few short videos to make you feel like you were there. Try watching in full screen if you can.

Trick riding, impressive!

Chariots in action, so exciting.

Fabulous performing horses and marching band.

Women displaying their horse handling skills.

I do hope you enjoyed these videos. Thanks for all the great comments on this event.

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 I was watching a scene from the movie Ben Hur.

The magnificent robes depict biblical and historical scenes

The lavish floats were incredible and kept me spellbound as they passed by.

I found the religious icons and penitents very moving

Nazarenos or penitents

Costaleros,wearing the colours of their brotherhood, carrying ornate religious icons

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

All ages take part in these events

The youngest parade participant representing the White Brotherhood, Paso Blanca

A number of brotherhoods participated in the parade, the two largest being Paso Blanca (White Brotherhood) and Paso Azul (Blue Brotherhood). There is much friendly competition between these two fraternities trying to out do each other with costumes, floats and icons each year.  Onlookers are encouraged to cheer for a group creating fun audience participation. We sat on the Paso Blanca side where we all waved white handerchiefs and yelled, “Viva Blanca”, cheering as the white group passed by. The drums and marching bands added to the excitement. You couldn’t help get caught up in the atmosphere.

A truly impressive and unique experience.

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. 

DSCN3468

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….


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