Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Happy blog anniversary! My blog is ten years old today, can you believe it. I seem to have learned a few things in ten years and gained some new followers, so I’ve updated my first post and thought I would share it since many of you would not have seen it. Thank you to all of you who have faithfully followed me over the years!

Darlene Foster's Blog

“Dreams are necessary to life.” – Anais Nin

Welcome to my new blog. This blog is for writers, readers, travelers, dreamers and interesting people of all ages.I hope you enjoy my blog, and I welcome all comments, suggestions and ideas.

Here is my first post.

June was a month for some of my dreams to become reality.  For many years I have wanted to go up in a Hot Air Balloon.  On June 5, 2010, that dream was realized.  My dear hubby surprised me with a gift of a Hot Air Balloon ride for my birthday. It took us three tries, but eventually the weather was perfect and I was able to ascend in the balloon.

Filling the balloon with hot air

Ready to go and so excited

Then we were off

The trip was amazing. We floated over farms, forests and fieldswith Mount Baker, Washington in clear view. There…

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Once again, the amazing Sally Cronin has been busy promoting other authors. She recently featured an extract and a great review for Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action on her blog. If you haven´t seen it, check it out. Thanks, Sally!!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series where authors in the Cafe and Bookstore an extract from their most recent book. If you are in the Cafe, and would like to participate you can find all the details here:Share an Extract

Today’s author is Darlene Foster sharing an extract from her most recent book in the Amanda travel series – Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action.

About Amanda in Holland

Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah; as well as travelling the canals of Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House, checking out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and taking pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. She is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy…

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I am so pleased to be a guest on Book Club Mom’s blog where I am asked some great questions. If you haven’t already, pop on over and see what I have to say about writing in a cafe and other things.

Book Club Mom

Author name: Darlene Foster

Genre: Middle-Grade Travel/Adventure/Mystery

Books: Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask; Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting; Amanda in England: The Missing Novel; Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone; Amanda on The Danube: The Sounds of Music; Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind; Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action; Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady to be released Spring 2021

What’s your story and how did you become a writer? I am a Canadian author who has written the Amanda Travels series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves travelling to unique places where she encounters mystery and adventure. Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. I’ve won prizes for my short stories and have been published in various anthologies. I have also written a bi-lingual book for English/Spanish readers.

I grew up…

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I am pleased to have as a guest on my blog, Debra Purdy Kong, who has just launched her 6th mystery novel. Debra has been a guest on my blog, here where she talked about how she gets her ideas and gives some great advice to anyone thinking of writing. Today she talks about her inspiration for the latest Casey Holland mystery, The Blade Man.


So, This Bus Driver Approached Me…
By Debra Purdy Kong

After my third Casey Holland mystery, Beneath the Bleak New Moon, was published, a local bus driver contacted me through Twitter to ask about my books. My series is set in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, which is where the driver and I live.

My protagonist, Casey, is a 33-year-old transit security officer who’s employed by a private bus company. She rides the buses, usually after a customer complaint, to deal with smaller types of issues that either evolve into or merge with larger crimes. By book two she becomes legal guardian to a teenager and has begun a romance with a bus driver named Lou, which makes her personal and professional life complicated and tumultuous at times.

My real-life driver offered to answer any questions I might have about the job. I jumped at the invitation and over several months, we met at Starbucks, where I learned that this driver had been assaulted by passengers on three separate occasions.

At that time, drivers had no protective shields. Their only line of defense was to press an alarm button which would notify the police and allow the dispatchers audio access to what was happening. Some of the buses had cameras but others didn’t. Depending on the situation, a supervisor might also be dispatched in a vehicle. The thing is, a lot can happen before help arrives.

Each time, the driver’s recovery took longer. After the third assault, PTSD eventually forced a change in careers. With two kids to support, it wasn’t an easy decision, but this person felt that drivers just weren’t sufficiently equipped or physically prepared to deal with attacks. On some levels, I could relate to this. Having worked in retail for five years and later as a security guard, I’d also faced hostile encounters, but none where I was actually struck.

Despite the attacks my driver experienced, this person had a surprising amount of sympathy for some of those angry, desperate folks. They weren’t drunk jerks, but people with serious mental health issues who’d been abandoned by the system. That revelation led to the inspiration for my latest Casey mystery, The Blade Man.

We live in a stressful world. Even before the pandemic arrived, medical experts expressed concern about the rise in mental health issues and the lack of resources to adequately cope with people who needed help. This is why I felt compelled to address the issue in The Blade Man.

While the villains are caught at the end, the larger mental health issue is not resolved. Even in fiction, the topic is too complex to neatly wrap up. Crime novels often shine a light on societal problems which, as a reader, I’ve always found compelling. I hope that my real-life driver feels safer now and that a happy ending evolved from all the pain and trauma.

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 provide 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. More information about Debra and her books can be found at www.debrapurdykong.com or contact her at debra_kong@telus.net

Book Blurb for The Blade Man:

Who is the Blade Man and why has this mysterious loner been attacking Mainland Public Transport bus drivers? And who is trying to burn MPT down? The company’s president suspects an inside job and orders security officer Casey Holland to launch an internal investigation or face termination.

Convinced that she’s being set up to fail, Casey feels the pressure. With her and Lou’s wedding only weeks away, Casey desperately needs answers, but anger at work and on the streets thwart her efforts. Nor do the police welcome her help.

More employees are attacked, and the president forces Casey to take deeper risks. But how much is too much? How far must she go before facing off with him and MPT’s enemies? Find out in this explosive sixth installment of Casey Holland transit mysteries.

Links For the Blade Man:

Amazon: mybook.to/TheBladeMan
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-blade-man
Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1495092401

Find Debra at:

Website www.debrapurdykong.com
WordPress blog: https://debrapurdykong.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraPurdyKong
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Casey-Holland-Transit-Security-Mysteries/139005706175139

Here is my review of the first book in the series, The Opposite of Dark.

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/customer-reviews/RYL0T07XW90SM/

These books are great and don’t need to be read in order. Check them out!

I am included in this group of writers who discuss what we have been doing during this time of isolation. Thanks, Susan Toy, for putting this together.

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

This is the second part of a series in which Authors who I’ve promoted in the Authors-Readers International series tell Readers what they’ve been doing during these past few months of self-isolating … See the introduction to Part 1 for a further explanation. (All links on the authors’ names will take you to their A-RI promotion.)

Fred Stenson

Pincher Creek, Alberta, is my home since last summer, as I believe you know. The advantage is that Pincher in Iso is quite a bit like Pincher not in Iso. Have to watch my step only at the post office and Co-op. And strictly avoid Walmart. Two hour walks are frequent—to offset my beer consumption.

Working on a film with Tom Radford. Great fun.

Marcello Di Cintio

I’ve been reasonably busy during the pandemic. My book about the secret lives of taxi drivers has been delayed due to all of this chaos…

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I am a guest on Richard Dees Indie Showcase today, where I talk about writing a series. Hop over and check it out. https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/the-indie-showcase-presents-darlene-foster/

One of my goals, when I started writing the Amanda Travels series, was to educate as well as entertain readers. So I am always delighted when I learn that parents are using my books for homeschooling. One parent even sent me her child’s work and reports. I was impressed with the lesson plans and projects, as well as the student’s answers.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Kegan, an eleven-year-old young man, admits he is not a keen reader but enjoys Amanda and her adventures. His mom told me she loved seeing his interest and attention to almost every detail which she hadn’t seen with any other books he’d read. Looking at his reports, I can see that he understood the idea of the story. I love it when kids get it!

Here are some of the worksheets and projects from his Language Arts class

For his first report he chose to read Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone because he is from Alberta and familiar with some of the sights in the story. He also plans to visit some of the other places mentioned.

He got 81% for his final mark. Which is excellent.

One of the projects was to write a letter to the author. This is what he wrote to me:

Dear Darlene,

I am doing a book report on your book, titled “Amanda in Alberta.” I liked it! My favourite part is the horse ride. I have been to many of these places, mostly with my dad in the semi-truck. Did you visit all of the places in your books? Can you make a book of ” Amanda in Iceland”? I think that would be awesome!

Thank you for writing these amazing books!

Sincerely,

Kegan

I loved the story map he created summarizing the story via seven events
Ten out of ten for his depiction of the cover and short summary

For his next book, he chose Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting and got 83% as his final mark!

I always include a few more challenging words in the story to help increase the reader’s vocabulary. The words Kegan added to his vocabulary from this book were – monastery, boleros, distressed, dubious, spittoon, trance, alcove, apprehended. The teacher wrote, “It looks like this story was at the right reading level for you.”

I like how he described the characters.

Amanda – happy, determined, she does not listen to Leah, kind-hearted. An explorer.

Leah – helpful, loud scream, acting, kind-hearted. The tall one.

Dona – determined, kind, helpful, big heart. Loves her horse, Pedro.

He was required to summarize each chapter, which he did quite well, as well as predict what might happen at the end of each chapter. His predictions were 50% correct and 50% incorrect. The teacher wrote, “If your predictions were wrong, that means the writer was successful in her writing in order to keep you interested and surprised.”

I just heard from his mom that during lockdown, he has been reading Amanda in Holland for his current Language Arts class.

It makes me very happy to know that my books are being used in classrooms and for homeschooling. My goal has been accomplished.

Copyright © 2020 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved

Grateful to Sally Cronin for featuring an excerpt from Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music as well as a fabulous review. I wrote this book in the middle of a move to another country. Writing the story kept me grounded and sane as we settled in and learned to live within a new culture. You can see why this book has a special place in my heart. Enjoy.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new Cafe and Bookstore  New Series 2020 – Share an Extract with an opportunity to show one of your earlier books some love and attention by sharing an extract.. Check out the above link for all the details.

Author Darlene Foster  shares an extract from the adventure for Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music. Amanda finds herself on the Danube helping a homeless young musician.

371883440About Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music

Twelve-year-old Amanda Ross finds herself on an elegant riverboat with her bestie, Leah, cruising down the beautiful Danube, passing medieval castles, luscious green valleys and charming villages. When she is entrusted with a valuable violin by a young, homeless musician during a stop in Nuremburg, another boy immediately tries to take it from her. Amanda tries to keep the precious violin safe for the poor prodigy, and along…

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Today was supposed to be the release of Laura Best’s adult novel, Good Mothers Don’t. But due to current affairs, like many things, the release has been delayed until June. But I would still like to tell you about it as it is such a great book. Mark it as “want to read” on Goodreads. It can be preordered on most bookstore sites as well.

It’s 1960, and Elizabeth has a good life. A husband who takes care of her, two healthy children, a farm in the Forties Settlement. But Elizabeth is slowly coming apart, her reality splintering. She knows she will harm her children, wants to harm her children, wants to be stopped from harming her children. She doesn’t sleep, becomes incoherent. Elizabeth is taken away.

We rejoin her in 1975, “well” once again, living in a group home and desperately trying to fill in the enormous gaps electric shock therapy has left in her memory. She remembers five words from her past and knows they are significant, but their meaning is slippery and she can’t grasp more. She knows that Jewel and Jacob are her children, though she can’t picture their faces, and more than anything, she longs to find them and explain that she never meant to leave for so long.

Shifting through time and points of view, acclaimed author Laura Best’s first novel for adults allows us to see the ripple effects of mental illness and its treatment in the mid-twentieth century. Good Mothers Don’t is a moving exploration of illness, memory, and how we fight for who we love.

This is my review of Good MOthers Don’t

What would you do if you were a mother and felt you were losing your mind? This incredible book introduces us to Elizabeth, a wife and mom in the early 1960s who is grappling with her sanity. Then something happens to push her over the edge, resulting in a family that is torn apart. This well written, gripping story is told by Elizabeth and those affected by her. I have enjoyed everything Laura Best has written in the past, but she has outdone herself with this story. She has created characters so believable you begin to think you have met them somewhere before, perhaps a neighbor or a family member. I felt the pain, the hope and most of all, the love. I closed the book and wanted to start reading it all over again. This story will stay with me for a long time. Thank you Vagrant Press for the ARC.

Review on Goodreads by Darlene Foster

Laura was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Where did you get the idea to write, Good Mothers Don’t?

In the very beginning, Good Mothers Don’t started out as a short story about a young girl who is abandoned by her mother.  I wanted to discover why the mother left her children behind and so I wrote another story, told by the mother this time. What I eventually ended up with was a collection of stories that my editor suggested was really a novel. So I went about filling in all the missing pieces, which sounds rather simplistic when, in reality, it took a long time for me to fit all the pieces of the story together. The story revealed itself to me as I wrote so there were things that came as a surprise to me.

When and where do you prefer to write?

I write, quite often, in the evening since I work during the day, but even when I’m at work I spend a lot of time thinking about my characters. I wrote my last three books in my office but I recently replaced my ailing laptop and so I’ve often been writing in my comfy chair in the living room lately while stealing glances at the TV.

Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?

When writing, I like to have a cup of herbal tea nearby. I like trying new teas and I’m quite enjoying chamomile and lemon at the moment.

Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?

Some of my characters are a conglomerate of people I’ve known but once I find a particular character’s voice they let me know who they are. It is usually upon reflection that I notice any similarities to my characters and the people I know.

If you could choose one fictional character to be your best friend, who would you choose and why?  (I’m sure there are many but just pick one)

I would probably choose Anne Shirley. She is such a spirited character and I’m sure we’d have some wonderful adventures together.

Tell us about your next writing project/projects.

At the moment I’m working on a young adult novel with a male protagonist which is a bit different for me, but I also have a couple of adult novels that I’m really anxious to get back into writing. I usually have several stories happening at once and tend to jump back and forth.

A brief bio

Laura Best has had over forty short stories published in literary magazines and anthologies. Her first novel, Bitter, Sweet was short listed for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and made the Best Books for Kids and Teens 2011 list. Her book, Flying with a Broken Wing, was named one of the Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of 2015. Her book, Cammie Takes Flight was nominated for the Silver Birch award and was a CCBC starred selection. Good Mothers Don’t is her first novel for adults.

Social Media Links

Blog : lauraabest.wordpress.com

Twitter: @laura_a_best

Facebook: @laurabestauthor

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5135897.Laura_Best

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/laurabest

I would keep an eye out for this book as it is sure to be a bestseller!!

Copyright © 2020 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved

Darlene Foster latest interview by AllAuthor Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing at the age of eight. When she was twelve, one of her stories was published in the local newspaper. It took her three years to write the first book. Darlene Foster’s books have an interesting and fast-paced story and include a huge amount of fascinating information. She loves writing for children. Read full interview…

I was delighted to be asked by AllAuthor for an Author Interview with Mady Joshi. I enjoy being part of AllAuthor as it is a great place to showcase your books. They provide great promo materials and gifs that are easy to create, even for someone not that technical.

Thank you for this interview, Mady! I enjoyed answering your great questions.

I hope you enjoyed my interview on AllAuthor and learned about a favourite childhood memory of mine as well as other things about me and my books.

Here are a couple of promo photos and gifs I have created with AllAuthor.

My favourite


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© Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.