Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

In November of last year, I was a guest on Sally Cronin’s blog where I was asked to list two things on my personal bucket list. One of them was to attend a writers’ conference in Europe. A writer/blogger friend, Mary Smith, suggested I check out the Winchester Writers’ Festival, which I did. In June I attended this 38-year-old festival held at the University of Winchester with 300 other attendees, providing 50 talks, readings and workshops. I had a great time and thought I should share what I learned while there.

DSCN2033

DSCN2042

Entrance to the University of Winchester

I arrived Friday evening in time for dinner where I met other authors over stimulating conversation. Later I attended a talk by James Aitcheson who discussed researching and writing historical fiction which was interesting.

I stayed on campus and found my little room to be comfortable. I felt every bit a student.

DSCN2037

My digs for the weekend. My room was on the second floor.

The next morning, after a good sleep and a hearty breakfast (there were even vege sausages!), we listened to the keynote address with Patrick Gale interviewed by Judith Henegan, Director of the Winchester Writers’ Festival. This prolific writer of 15 novels and counting, spoke about “A Life in Writing”. He offered some great advice and this is some of what I took away from the entertaining and informative discussion.

  1. Write in ink first
  2. Use setting as a character
  3. Place defines a person
  4. End with a glimmer of hope and leave some things unanswered
  5. Remember the reader in the second draft. (are they seeing and feeling what you want them to?)
  6. Children are good to have in a novel as they disrupt, are indiscreet and honest
  7. Readers respond to recognition
  8. Cut out unnecessary stuff, remove anything that reminds people that they are reading
  9. Learn to write by reading
  10. Time is a good editor
  11. Dialogue is good but can slow down the action. It’s OK to use reported speech sometimes
  12. Readers rewrite the book when they read it

I bought his book, “A Place Called Winter” and he signed it for me. He was very interested in the fact that I was raised near the area in Canada where the story takes place.

IMG_20180616_095652 (2)

 

For the remainder of the day, I attended a number of workshops. One by children’s author, Patrice Lawernce, on “Whose Voice is it Anyway”. She discussed making your characters sound authentic by listening to how people talk and being perpetually curious, knowing their backstory and culture and getting under the skin of your characters.

Another workshop on “Creating a Picture Book”, was facilitated by Andrew Weale. He explained that you have to think visually as you write, write a lot, then pare it down to a few words as you let the pictures talk. Picture book stories can be generated by asking unusual, quirky questions.

“Twitter For Writers” by Claire Fuller gave me a few more ideas on how to maximize my time on Twitter. “Myth, Mystery and Magic” with Sarah Mussi reminded us that goodness wins in the end with examples through the ages. The hero should have a flaw, even if it is a good flaw like being too kind etc. The excellent dinner came with a guest speaker, Helen Dennis, who gave an animated talk about her route to success as a children’s author.

Sunday was an all-day workshop, “Casting the Spell of Place”, with Lorna Ferguson. I loved this as we were given prompts with time to write and share our work. A few points I took away with me.

  1. Cut out unnecessary details of description to avoid making it sound like a travelogue
  2. Don’t make lists
  3. Think of the reader and what effect you want to create
  4. Setting can create mood and atmosphere and help with plotting
  5. Location often takes the character out of their comfort zone
  6. It should transport the reader out of their ordinary world (armchair travelling)
  7. It should create a perception of the culture
  8. Description needs to be broken up with dialogue and action
  9. Be careful of information dumping, it will pull the reader out of the story
  10. If it doesn’t work, try a different setting!

Another point that came up which was very helpful for me and my stories is that a character can’t always have someone help them. They need to solve their own problems, sometimes in an unfamiliar location.

We were given a list of quotes. I love this one. Place is paramount. Annie Proulx

I also had two one to one appointments with authors who looked at the first chapter of Amanda in Holland and gave me great feedback.

With limited luggage space, I only bought two books, (amazing for me!) and an Elizabeth Bennet tree ornament to remember my time.

DSCN2389

Elizabeth Bennett Christmas tree ornament

DSCN2032

Charming bench on the grounds of the university

DSCN2040

One of the many great buildings on site, the Business School

Staying in a historic city, meeting other writers and learning more about the art of writing made this a perfect break for me and just what I needed to continue with my writing. Thank you so much, Mary Smith, for this suggestion. Check out her interesting blog and wonderful books.

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-/entity/author/B001KCD4P0

 

I am a guest today over at Jacqui Murray’s amazing blog, WordDreams. I answer her question, How do you create readers for life? See what I have to say.

WordDreams...

darlene fosterOne of my summer reading discoveries is Darlene Foster’s six-volume Amanda series. I’m a teacher-author so I’m always eager to find fresh books that my K-8 students will love. When I came across Darlene on her blog, Darlene Foster’s Blog, I have to admit, I was really excited. I’d never found a children’s travelogue series that would appeal to kids the same way fiction does. This series does. In it, kids travel all over the world, to those names that excite every adult–Amanda on the Danube, Amanda in Arabia, Amanda in Alberta, as well as three more fun world locations.

I asked Darlene if she would mind doing an interview for my blog–just one question. That’s all I had:

How do you create readers for life?

Because that’s what these books have the power to do–turn kids into readers. Here’s her answer:

Writing for children…

View original post 1,082 more words

I am so pleased to be featured on Jemsbooks Blog. Janice Spina is a prolific author herself with many kids books on her list of publications. Check them out. Even if you think you know all about me and my books, you might learn about a special talent I have!

Jemsbooks

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DARLENE FOSTER!

Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster

Please help me welcome author Darlene Foster to Jemsbooks Blog Segment of Interview an Author. 

It’s lovely to have you here Darlene. Please step up on the soap box.

Please tell us something about yourself.

I’m probably considered a late bloomer as I didn’t start writing seriously until later in life. But I have always loved to tell stories and made up tales in my head growing up on a ranch in southern Alberta. I recall pretending I was in exciting, foreign countries having an adventure. I had two wishes as a child, one was to travel the world and the other was to be a published writer one day. I have been very lucky as I have held wonderful jobs over the years, raised two amazing children, and been blessed with four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. My dreams have come true…

View original post 1,518 more words

I am so pleased to be the featured author on Pens, Paws and Claws, a wonderful blog that features authors and their pets. Don’t you just love the title of the blog? Check it out, especially if you love pets. Read about how I use animals in my books and how animals have affected my writing life. Of course, Dot is included.

Welcome Author Darlene Foster

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome author, Darlene Foster to the blog!

 

Author Darlene Foster and her dog, Dot. 

How do your pets impact your writing?

Spending time with my dog relaxes me and inspires ideas. When I get stuck, I take her for a walk and often return with fresh new ideas. She also gets me off my butt and away from the computer. When she thinks I have been there too long, she comes into my office with her ball and drops it in front of me, looking at me with those big puppy dog eyes. I just can’t say no. Before moving to Spain and getting our dog we had cats. They would sleep on my lap or on my feet while I wrote. A writer needs pets. They are great to discuss ideas with.

DSCN0909 (2)

Who could refuse those eyes? 

Do you include animals in your stories?

Living on a farm/ranch there were always animals around so I love animals of all sorts….

read more here and discover my funniest pet story

http://penspawsandclaws.com/welcome-author-darlene-foster/

Whether you are a writer or not, how have animals affected your life? Do you have a funny pet story?

I’m tickled to be featured on MJ Mallon’s blog. Find out what I would do with a traveling onion and a few other things about me and my writing that you may or may not know.

M J Mallon Author

A huge welcome to Darlene Foster who is over at my blog home today for a Q and A about her children’s adventure series: Amanda Travels.

Some of you might know that I like to interview using my nickname MJ…

MJ: I’d love to find out more about your amazing travel series featuring a twelve year old girl. Who is Amanda Ross and where does she like to travel to? What mysteries does she uncover/solve? What adventures does she have?

Darlene: Amanda Ross is an average girl living in Alberta, Canada and she is bored. On her twelfth birthday she makes a wish for travel and adventure before blowing out all her candles. The next day tickets to visit her aunt and uncle in the United Arab Emirates arrive in the mail. She has an amazing adventure in the UAE that includes a mysterious perfume flask, a beautiful princess, a…

View original post 1,663 more words

I was lucky to be interviewed by Ari Meghlen on her award-winning blog. I talk about why I enjoy writing and chatting with Jane Austen.

Ari Meghlen - Writer | Blogger | Bad card player

This week’s guest post is an interview with the lovely Darlene Foster, author of Amanda in New Mexico. Enjoy!

Banner: Guest post Interview with Author Darlene Foster

View original post 1,325 more words

I am pleased to have as my guest today, author Stevie Turner. I have been following Stevie’s blog for a couple of years and her posts are fun, interesting and informative. She also holds a short story contest most months. She is a prolific writer as you can see and enjoys attending rock concerts. Stevie and her husband love spending time at their holiday home on the Isle of Wight, a place I love and included in Amanda in England.

Stevie and Jimi Hendrix at Dimbola Lodge, Isle of Wight

Stevie Turner grew up in the East End of London and was fortunate enough to attend an excellent primary school which encouraged creative writing. After winning an inter-schools’ writing contest, Stevie began to keep a diary and often added little stories and poems to it as the years went by. However, she did not take up writing seriously until 2013. By this time her two sons had left home and she had more time to herself.

Stevie has now written 10 novels, 6 novellas, 1 memoir, and 18 short stories, winning a New Apple Book Award in 2014 and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in 2015 for her third novel ‘A House Without Windows’. You can find details of all her books on her website http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk

Stevie still lives in the same picturesque Suffolk village that she and husband Sam moved to in 1991 with their two boys. One of her short stories, ‘Lifting the Black Dog’, was recently published in ‘1000 Words or Less Flash Fiction Collection’ (2016). She has also written an article ‘Look on the Bright Side of Life’ which was included in the 2016 book ‘They Say I’m Doing Well’ which are articles about mental illness, proceeds of which go to the charity MIND.  Her screenplay ‘For the Sake of a Child’ won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival, and gained interest from an independent film production company based in New York.

1. What made you decide on the type of books you write?

I write realistic women’s fiction with a psychological twist, also suspense and darkly humorous books. These are the genres I like to read, and the type of books I am interested in. I couldn’t write a fantasy novel even if you paid me to do so!

2. How long have you been seriously writing?

Since 2013. I began to work part-time then, the children had grown up and flown the nest, and I had more time on my hands. I had always dabbled with writing poems and stories since childhood, but it wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I realised I had been privy to a wealth of life experiences over the years. I think 2014/2015 were my most prolific writing years.

3. Where do you get your ideas?

From life events, from items of news on TV or radio, and from tales I’ve been told over the years. I only write about realistic situations.

4. What is your writing process?

I don’t have one. I write when I feel like it. When the words don’t come I stop and do something else.

5. Where do you do your best writing?

In my quiet, air-conditioned front room. Sam works from home upstairs in his office, and I sit downstairs and write. Sometimes he comes down for a cup of tea and we even talk to each other.

6. How long does it take you to write a book?

How long is a piece of string? I have no deadlines to meet, and only write when I feel like it. Therefore one book could take months. My latest book ‘A Marriage of Convenience’ was completed in about 3 months

7. Do you work on more than one story at a time?

Never. I’d get totally mixed up with all the names and characters and end up writing a load of gibberish. No, I see one book through to the end.

8. How do you come up with names for your characters?

I don’t like fancy names – plain good old-fashioned names suit my characters. I also like short names so I don’t have to keep typing long ones. I write down various short traditional names and pick the one I like best.

9. What books did you read as a child?

Mostly Enid Blyton’s ‘Adventure’ series or the Mallory Towers’ series. I used to love books about private schools. I also liked the Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. I wanted ‘titian’ hair like Nancy!

10. Who are some of your favourite authors, and why?

I like the psychological thrillers that Mark Edwards writes. I also like Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins’ books, again because of the psychological aspect. I also like books by A.J Cronin, L.P Hartley, and R.F Delderfield.

ST books2

11. What advice would you give an aspiring author?

Write for a hobby. Don’t expect to earn your living from it, because there are too many other authors out there all trying to get their books out in front. Expect nothing, and you won’t be disappointed.

12. Tell us about what you are working on now.

Absolutely nothing! I’ve just finished ‘A Marriage of Convenience’, which will be published on 6th July, and I’m going to take a couple of months off over the summer to enjoy my holiday home on the Isle of Wight and spend time with the family. There’s more to life than writing…

Thanks so much, Stevie for being a guest on my blog. 

 

My review of A Marriage of Convenience

Sometimes one hasty decision can affect your entire life. Sophie doesn’t know what she is getting into when she agrees to marry wannabe rock star Gerrie Hermann so he can stay in the UK and pursue his music career. Can a marriage of convenience survive a botched up kidnapping, harboured secrets, lost dreams and undeniable heartache? An easy read with real-life characters set in the exciting London music scene and exotic Rio de Janeiro. Darlene Foster

 

Make sure to connect with Stevie on her social media links and check out her amazing books. 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Amazon.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU/

Website: http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU/

Amazon Author Page (worldwide): http://bookShow.me/B00AV7YOTU

YouTube: https://goo.gl/E8OHai

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172051.Stevie_Turner

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StevieTurner6

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/stevieturner988/

WordPress Blog: https://steviet3.wordpress.com/

Audible: http://goo.gl/sz1cXS

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?vpa=pub&locale=en_US

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/105747643789021738179/posts/p/pub

BookSprout: https://booksproutapp.com/author/875/stevie-turner

 

cropped-book-banner-jpg


click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Pig on Trial

click to purchase

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 7,097 other followers

Archives

Goodreads

click to read review