Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

That is how I always feel on New Year’s Day. A new year with no mistakes yet! I am always so excited to make a list of goals, not all of them new, some are brought over from the year before as they didn’t get met. And that’s OK. Some have been on the list for a few years already. Things happen when they are supposed to.

Here is my list for 2023

  1. Read Mom’s five-year diary by reading one page a day. It will be great to learn more about Mom as a teenager.

2. Finish Amanda in Scotland: The Standing Stones, book number ten in the Amanda Travels series.

3. Publish my collection of short stories based on my childhood growing up on the Canadian prairies.

4. Learn how to self-publish

5. Return to Canada and attend a family reunion

6. Create a newsletter.

7. Clean up and sort out my office.

8. Clean up my computer and tablet

9. Read and write more poetry

10. Eat out more often. Since the pandemic, we have gotten out of the habit and I’m getting tired of cooking all the time.

11. Read 48 books. I’m going to try for this reading goal again.

12. Work on reducing my TBR pile on my bookshelves and on my Kindle

13. Maintain my health; reduce my sugar intake

14. Visit Ireland

15. Continue marketing my books and looking for new ways to market

That should keep me busy enough so I don’t get bored.

My words for 2023 are Savour the Moment

Wishing everyone a super 2023: May many of your dreams come true!

2022 is almost over and it’s time to take stock and see how I did with the goals I set at the beginning of the year. To be honest it was not a bad year, certainly better than the two before. I was fairly cautious about setting goals as so many plans had been dashed previously. We are still not comfortable about doing much travelling but are enjoying spending time with our two dogs instead.

I’m a habitual planner, so setting goals and making plans keeps me going.

Not meeting a goal is not a bad thing. It can just be added to the next year’s list. Or maybe it is no longer important and can be struck off permanently! Let’s see how I did with meeting my 2022 goals.

Goals for 2022

  1. Publish Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral

Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral was published by Central Avenue Publishers and released on September 13th. I am happy to report that this book is doing well and I’ve received many positive reviews.

2. Publish a collection of short stories

I am working on this and have polished the collection of stories but have not published it yet.

3. Learn how to self-publish

Haven’t done this yet.

4. Start writing a new book

I have started writing Amanda in Scotland: The Standing Stones (working title). I even returned to The Isle of Arran to do more research this year.

5. Market my books in person and online

I am pleased with my marketing efforts for 2022. Online marketing has gone very smoothly with great results. I’m eternally grateful to the blogging community who have been so very supportive. I also visited bookstores, libraries and schools in three Canadian provinces doing signings and presentations. I sold out of books in one store!

6. Return to Canada and spend time with family and friends in BC and Alberta

This was a highlight of the year. I saw so many family members and friends during my three-week visit to Canada in September, including both of my children and all of my grand and great-grandchildren.

7. Travel to at least one new place

I did this and the new place was Prince Edward Island, a Province on the east coast of Canada. A place I have wanted to visit since I read Anne of Green Gables when I was ten years old. I even had an opportunity to visit the house that inspired the author, Lucy Maude Montgomery, to write the novel.

8. Update my blog

I’ve done some work on this but still have more to do.

9. Buy a new computer

I did buy a new computer and just love it. The speed is incredible!

10. Take an online course

I’ve taken part in a few online courses, mostly via podcasts and Zoom meetings.

11. Read at least 48 books

According to my Goodreads challenge, I have read 46 books this year. But I also read 2 books that were not on Goodreads, and one of the books I read was War and Peace; that should count for 3 books at least! So I’m calling this a win.

12. Keep up to date with technology

This is something I really believe in and don’t want to fall behind. I have updated my new computer to Windows 11 and have had no problems with it at all. I tend to learn new things as needed.

13. Make new friends and stay in touch with old friends

“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet” – Will Rogers. I have turned a few strangers into new friends this year but have spent most of my time keeping in touch with my long-time friends. I was happy to have met a couple of blogging friends in person which is always special.

14. Keep calm and stay positive, no matter what

I did a good job of this in 2022 and it certainly reflected in my health and attitude.

I’m happy with the results and am ready to face 2023 with a new set of goals, along with some carried over.

How did you do this past year? Any surprises?

Happy New Year one and all!!

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.

Many of you know that Anne of Green Gables is my favourite children’s book. The opportunity to see the house in Prince Edward Island that inspired the author, Lucy Maude Montgomery, was indeed a dream come true!

Green Gables House, was originally a farmhouse that belonged to the Macneill family, cousins of L.M. Montgomery. The author spent a lot of time there as a child and later used it as the inspiration for the setting of her popular novel, Anne of Green Gables. It is now a heritage museum, done up as it is depicted in the book as the home of her characters, siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, Anne’s adoptive parents in the story. You can imagine my delight as I looked through the house. It was like stepping into the much-loved story.

The sitting room, as described in the book.

Anne Shirley’s room with her favourite dress hanging on the back of the closet door.

Marilla’s room with her shawl and the famous broach. (Sorry you can’t see it in the picture)

The property consists of a lovely garden that backs onto a wooded area, also depicted in the story.

The Haunted Wood where many of Anne’s adventures with Diana played out.

A cart similar to the one Matthew would have used to pick up Anne at the train station and take her to Green Gables to start her new life.

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
– L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

On the site is also The Green Gables Visitor Centre with many interesting displays and information about PEI’s famous author.

Lucy Maude Montgomery, as a young writer.

The typewriter LM Montgomery most likely typed her famous novel.

Anne of Green Gables has been translated into 36 different languages. I loved this wall of some of the different covers.

The home of Lucy Maude Montgomery is situated close by. The house she lived in with her grandparents, who raised her, is no longer standing but the foundation is there. In her memories, the author mentions she lived a very happy life there as a girl.

On the old farm site is a cosy bookstore, which is very fitting. I bought a wonderful book there which I treasure.

“Were it not for those Cavendish years, I do not think Anne of Green Gables would ever have been written.” L.M. Montgomery, The Alpine Path.

My review of this book is here https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5069965399

LM Montgomery is buried in the nearby Cavendish Community Cemetery. I was able to visit her grave and pay my respects to an author I have long admired and who inspired me to write.

A visit I will never forget.

I woke up to this terrific post from Barb Taub which describes her love of Paris and the wonderful cooking experience she had there, as well as an amazing review of Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral. Please do pop over and read, you are in for a treat.

Barb Taub

A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” —Thomas Jefferson

It’s possible, I suppose, that somebody somewhere doesn’t like Paris. After all, I’ve heard there are people who don’t like chocolate, and babies, and puppies. (Puppies!) But even if those people exist, they would still have to admit that Paris is one of the most walkable cities in the world.  One of my favorite walks in Paris is the early morning market cooking class I’ve taken on a couple of different Paris trips. It’s different but fabulous every time. Here’s a post from a class several years ago.


“Meet at Metro Maubert-Mutualité, in front of Café le Métro” the message said.

My market cooking class was gathering at the oldest outdoor market in Paris to choose the ingredients and determine the menu we’d be cooking that day. I got there early to…

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Sorry for my absence but I have been travelling lately and will share all about my travels soon. I wanted to share this amazing review by Teri Polen, who is an excellent writer. This review had me dancing on the ceiling.

Books and Such

Amanda explores the exciting streets of Paris, the fabulous Palace of Versailles and the gardens of the painter Claude Monet, while being drawn into the mystery surrounding the destructive fire of Notre Dame cathedral.

Amanda is in love! With Paris – the city of love. She’s in awe of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral. While there, she gets to work as a volunteer and stay in a famous book store, along with her bestie, Leah, and Leah’s eccentric Aunt Jenny. A dream come true for a book lover like Amanda.

Except, while she’s at the Paris Opera House there is a bomb threat. Then the lights go out during their visit to the Louvre. Worst of all, a devastating fire blazes in Notre Dame. Why does a mysterious man, who claims to be a busker, writer and artist, show up every time…

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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!

It has been ten years since we published Amanda in England: The Missing Novel. So I thought we should celebrate with some cake!

I based this book on my numerous visits to England, a place I love. On one visit we stopped at Windsor Castle. The Queen was in, but we did not see her as we explored her fascinating home. Although I thought I saw a curtain twitch as we watched the changing of the guard.

I enjoyed the castle very much but one of the things that really caught my attention was Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. It was well worth the wait in line to view it. A few months later, when browsing a local bookstore in Canada, I found an amazing book all about the Dolls’ House.

I have spent hours pouring over this book and its wonderful pictures. It clearly depicts the details that were put into creating this miniature palace.

The doll’s house was built between 1921 and 1924 and presented to Queen Mary (the current Queen’s Grandmother) as a gift in 1924. It is now a piece of history. It depicts life between the two World Wars and has a very Upstairs Downstairs/Downton Abbey feel about it. There are forty rooms and vestibules on four levels, with two staircases, two elevators that stop on every floor, hot and cold running water in all five bathrooms, toilets that flush, electric lights, a cellar, a garage and a garden. No detail was missed; from the tiny books in the library, paintings on the walls, toys in the nursery and cars in the garage. It is a delight and I’m so glad I have the book to revisit it as often as I want to.

The elaborate entrance

The opulent dining room
My favourite room – the library
I also love the nursery
Toys in the nursery
Items in the pantry
In the housekeeper’s room, a Singer sewing machine
a motorcycle in the garage
and a baby carriage in the garden
Of course, there is a throne room!

I found this delightful video which will give you a better idea.

I just had to include a visit to this place in Amanda in England: The Missing Novel

Here’s the excerpt:

Amanda squealed with delight. Before her stood a replica of Windsor Castle, in miniature, completely furnished. The entrance with the marble staircase, the dining room with the long table set for dinner with tiny dishes, the paintings hanging on the walls and the sparkling chandeliers were all there. A library with mini books on the shelves, the nursery with toys scattered about and even a puppet theatre, caught her attention.

“Look here,” Liam shouted. “There is even a garage with six fancy cars, a bicycle and a motorcycle too. They’re all in perfect scale too. Blimey, I bet they even run.”

“There is so much to look at,” said Leah. “Look at the little paint box and book of nursery songs, the teeny mirror and hair brush set. It’s so adorable.”

“This would have been so much fun to play with. Do you think the princesses were allowed to play with it?” asked Amanda.

Rylee looked at the miniature garden with three-inch trees and small shrubs. “Here’s a baby pram and look, birds in the trees and – even a cat.”

“Oh, I do hope Rupert is all right in the car,” said Leah.

Mesmerised by the scene before her, Amanda felt like she had entered the land of Lilliputians. She wanted to disappear into the miniature building or become a princess who could spend hours playing with it.

“Amanda, Amanda,” Leah tugged at her sleeve. “We should go now.”

The sun shone fiercely when they emerged from viewing the doll house. Amanda rubbed her eyes. “This is bright, isn’t it?” She rubbed her eyes again. “Is that her?”

“Is that who?” asked Liam and Leah at the same time.

“I swear I just saw that weird lady go into the castle.”

“Well, I don’t know what you saw, but I saw those two blokes who were at the hospital, sneaking behind a statue in the garden,” said Rylee.

“And there’s Rupert. Now, how did he get out of the car?” Leah ran into the garden after him.

Join me in wishing Amanda in England: The Missing Novel a very Happy Birthday!

I am delighted with this review of Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral over at Bonnie Reads and Writes. Included is an interview where you just might learn something new about me. We also talk about including tough topics in books for young people. Check it out!

Bonnie Reads and Writes

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help Self-Published and Indie authors promote their books. Today I’m reviewing Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral by Darlene Foster. This is an indie book published by Central Avenue Publishing, an independent publisher. Darlene also agreed to do a Q&A, and her delightful answers are below.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Amanda explores the exciting streets of Paris, the fabulous Palace of Versailles and the gardens of the painter Claude Monet, while being drawn into the mystery surrounding the destructive fire at Notre Dame cathedral.

Amanda is in love! With Paris – the city of love. She’s in awe of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and Notre Dame Cathedral. While there, she gets to work as a volunteer and stay in a famous book store, along with her bestie, Leah, and Leah’s eccentric Aunt Jenny. A dream come true for a book…

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I was invited to be a guest on Karen Mossman’s blog in her feature, About a Book. Check out the interview where I talk about where I got ideas for Amanda in France as well as a quote and an excerpt.

Where did the idea for the story come from?

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. 

Read more here


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