Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Today I am a guest over at Anne Stormont’s wonderful blog, Put it in Writing. Anne is an excellent author and a great supporter of other writers. If you wonder what a “typical day” looks like for me, read on.

Today it’s the turn of author Darlene Foster to give us a glimpse into the unpredictable and variety-filled days that make up her life as a writer. Darlene writes enthralling children’s adventure fiction. She also writes short stories and a wonderful blog with lots of posts and photos about her travels.

Darlene Foster’s Writing Life in a Day

I will start by saying there is no such thing as a typical day in my life anymore. I worked for 48 years and my life was very structured. During the latter part of my working life, I decided to follow my dream of becoming a writer and made a vow to write for two hours a day, no matter what. And I did, usually in the evening after dinner while others watched TV. As a result, I wrote and published four books and several short stories.

Now I’m retired and live for the most part in sunny Spain. I seem to have rebelled against structure in my day, so I write whenever I find some time. I no longer write every day either, although I write most days. In the past five years since I retired, I have written four more books.

Read more about my not so typical day here.

To win readers over we need to write characters so authentic they feel like real people. How do we do this? By brainstorming a character’s backstory, personality, needs, desires, and their day-to-day world. Lucky for us, one aspect of their daily life is a goldmine of characterization: the type of work they do.  

Think about it: a job can reveal personality, skills, beliefs, fears, desires, and more, which is why Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi created The Occupation Thesaurus, a writing guide that profiles 124 possible careers and the story-worthy information that goes with each. To help with this project, I’m sharing my experience as an Employment/Career Counsellor below, in case this career is a perfect fit for your character!

You can find the full list of Contributed Occupation Profiles and check out The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers at Writers Helping Writers.

OCCUPATION: Employment/Career Counsellor
OVERVIEW

An Employment/Career Counsellor provides coaching to individuals searching for suitable and sustainable employment by assessing what jobs would be the right fit based on aptitudes, interests, education and capability. The job involves helping clients overcome barriers to employment, assist in creating effective resumes and cover letters, practise interview skills and develop a targeted job search.

The position often includes designing and facilitating job search and life skills workshops, as well as conducting assessments. Clients include people from all walks of life, abilities and cultural backgrounds. An Employment/Career Counsellor might work for a government funded agency, in an educational institution or be self-employed.

NECESSARY TRAINING

Although there are no strict education requirements for becoming a career counsellor, many employers prefer you hold a Bachelor´s Degree.

An Employment Counsellor Certificate is a definite asset as is a Job Club Facilitator Certificate.

I have a CERTESL (Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language) from the University of Saskatchewan which was very helpful as I worked with job searching immigrants from many different countries.

USEFUL SKILLS, TALENTS, OR ABILITIES

CREATIVITY, DETAIL-ORIENTED,  EMPATHY, EQUANIMITY, EXCEPTIONAL MEMORY, GAINING THE TRUST OF OTHERS, GOOD LISTENING SKILLS,  INTUITION, LEADERSHIP, MAKING PEOPLE LAUGH, MULTITASKING, NETWORKING, ORGANIZATION, OUT-OF-THE-BOX THINKING, PUBLIC SPEAKING, READING PEOPLE,  RESEARCH, RESPECTFUL, SENSITIVITY, STRATEGIC THINKING, STRONG COMMUNICATION SKILLS, TEACHING, TIME MANAGEMENT, WRITING

SOURCES OF FRICTION

Some unemployed people can be unstable and blame the counsellor for them not getting a job

Participants in workshops may come from cultures that clash and cause friction in the classroom

Clients may share unsettling information with their counsellor like suicidal thoughts or illegal activities

Some people don’t like being told their resume isn’t good or that they should dress better for an interview

Government funding can stop, causing the counsellor to have to look for work themselves

A client may become infatuated with his/her counsellor and stalk them

Career councillors can get too caught up in the client’s problems

A client may suffer from mental illness or have a history of violence

WRITERS SHOULD KNOW…

Employment/Career Counsellors risk becoming too close to their clients and have difficulty keeping their work and personal life separate.

It is a challenging career but also very rewarding, especially when an individual finds a great job due to the coaching, which turns their life around.

Due to the many ups and downs, people in this field can suffer from stress and stress-related illnesses.

Have any questions about this job? I’d be happy to answer. Just leave a comment below!

I enjoy following Jennie Fitzkee, a preschool teacher in New England. I have featured her here on my blog. She believes in the power of reading out loud to children of all ages, including reading chapter books to preschoolers. Jennie recently posted about the books she read this summer, which included great picture books as well as some chapter books. And guess what, she included Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone! I was delighted that she enjoyed the story and wrote a good review. I’m included with some pretty awesome authors too.

This is part of what she wrote:

Amanda and Leah see the Calgary Stampede (a rodeo), go on a cattle drive, visit Buffalo Jump, and the dinosaur museum.  These adventures are intertwined with a mystery- Amanda finds a stone, which people seem to want, one cowboy in particular.  Amanda is curious about the markings on the stone and is determined to learn more.  She is the modern day Nancy Drew, and her sleuthing proves to be both dangerous and exciting at times.

Please read the rest of her post.

https://jenniefitzkee.com/2020/08/30/my-summer-of-books-part-3/

I´m pleased to be a guest on Wanda Luthman´s blog where I talk about Why I Wrote Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action. Check it out.

Wanda Luthman's Children's Books

Children’s Author, Darlene Foster

Hello, everyone!

Welcome to Wanda Luthman’s Children’s Book Blog.

Today, I want to introduce to you one of my favorite children’s authors. I’ve known her virtually for several years now. Her name is Darlene Foster and she’s written a series of books on a girl named Amanda in the Amanda Travels series.

Darlene, please tell us about you and your inspiration for this book as well as the series…

Why I Wrote Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action

My interest in the country of Holland began when a teacher read us a book called, Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates, by Mary Mapes Dodge, which I loved. The book, written in 1865, by an author who had never been to Holland herself but heard stories about it from her Dutch neighbours.

Over the years I read other books that took place in Holland, many of them…

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Attention authors of children´s books! A great place to showcase your work and get the word out. Many thanks to Sally Cronin for putting this together.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new Children’s Cafe and Bookstore where authors with books suitable for ages up to 12 can share their work and reviews.

It is very difficult to market and books at the current time without physical launches, particularly for children’s books with many in print versions only.

The authors with books suitable up to 12 years old will have separate entries for their children’s books in this new Cafe but will still retain their entries in the main bookstore with a selection of all books they may have.

Getting into the bookstore

If you are already an author in the bookstore then I will automatically share your children’s books in this directory.

If you are not already in the Cafe and Bookstore please email me with the following to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

  1. Link to Amazon for the book( and even  if you have one book please set up an…

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New Resource & Giveaway Alert

Hi everyone! Today I have something fun to share…a special chance to win some help with your writing. Awesome, right?

I love Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers, and have written about their amazing resource, The Emotion Thesaurus here. If you are familiar with this book, you know how great it is for developing a character and moving the plot along. Well, today these two awesome women are releasing a new book, and I’m pleased to be part of their street team.

I’m handing the blog over to them so they can tell you a bit about their Writer’s Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!


Certain details can say a lot about who someone is, like a character’s goals, desires, and backstory wound. But did you know there’s another detail that can tie your character’s arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the “get to know the character” curve for readers?

It’s true. Your character’s occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.

How much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles, or helping you live your truth?

Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life. The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.

Maybe you haven’t thought much about jobs in the past and how they act as a window into your character’s personality, interests, and skills. It’s okay, you aren’t alone. The good news is that The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. You’ll be able to pick the perfect job for them and discover how to weave it into the very fabric of the story.

Here’s one of the jobs profiled in this book: FIREFIGHTER.

GIVEAWAY ALERT: THE WRITER’S SHOWCASE IS WAITING

To celebrate the release of a new book, Becca and Angela are running a giveaway from July 20th to July 23rd. You can win some great prizes, including gift certificates that can be spent on writing services within the Writer’s Showcase. Stop by to enter if you like!

Resource Alert: A List of Additional Jobs Profiles For Your Characters!

Some of the amazing writers in our community have put together additional career profiles for you, based on jobs they have done in the past. What a great way to get accurate information so you can better describe the roles and responsibilities that go with a specific job, right? To access this list, GO HERE.

Happy writing to all!

Available at all your favourite bookstores

The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers

Ann Eriksson, credit Carol Sowerby photographer

I am pleased to present my guest today, fellow BC author, Ann Eriksson who has just released her latest book, Bird’s-Eye View: Keeping Wild Birds in Flight. A perfect book for anyone who loves birds and a great gift for a young person.

Ann Eriksson lives on Thetis Island, BC, in a waterfront house surrounded by ocean and trees and lots of amazing and beautiful wildlife. Ann is the author of five novels and two non-fiction ecological literacy books for children. When she’s not writing, working in biology, or helping protect the environment, she’s out exploring nature, on foot, or by boat. You can read about Ann’s work at www.anneriksson.ca. Ann’s novels and children’s books are available in print and eBook formats through your favourite bookseller.

Bird’s-Eye View: Keeping Wild Birds in Flight

From the dry deserts to the icy poles, wild birds are everywhere. We see them soaring overhead, paddling across water, flitting through trees, pecking at our backyard bird feeders and singing from fence posts. Birds contribute to the health of the planet and are enjoyed by many people around the world. But wild birds are in trouble. Today almost 200 bird species are critically endangered. They are threatened by habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, pesticides, human-made structures and other animals. Why are wild birds important? Why do they need help? And what are young people all over the world doing to take wild birds under their wing?

“Anyone, young or old, who wants to learn more about the birds that live in their neighborhood or on the other side of the planet will love this book.” – Trevor Herriot, naturalist and author of Grass, Sky, Song

“ A passionate and beautifully illustrated appeal to bird lovers of all ages.” – Bridget Stutchbury, author of Silence of the Songbirds and The Bird Detective.

What was the inspiration for Birds-Eye View?
I live on Thetis Island, surrounded daily by a wonderful and lively diversity of songbirds, woodpeckers, birds of prey and marine birds. And as a biologist and director of the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy, I know how impacted these beautiful and fascinating animals have been by human activities. I had already written Dive In! Exploring Our Connection with the Ocean as part of the Orca Footprints ecological literacy series and had enjoyed the experience immensely, so I pitched a book on birds and bird conservation to my editors at Orca Book Publishers. It ended up as an Orca Wild title.


I see that you have written a diverse collection of novels. What made you decide on the type of books you write?
I started out writing novels because that is what I love to read. I love being transported into different lives and worlds, and exposed to ideas, people and places I wouldn’t normally encounter. I took a break from fiction to write children’s non-fiction on invitation from Ruth Linka, my former publisher at Brindle & Glass, now at Orca Book Publishers. Both the novels and the non-fiction have combined my passion for writing with my interest in ecology.

How long have you been seriously writing?
I started writing novels in 2000, when I was a single parent with 2 school-age children, a dog to walk, a big old house and garden to look after and a contract job in biology. I began to wake up in the morning with a story complete with characters, paragraphs and sentences running through my head. I told it to go away, I didn’t have time. But it continued to tug at me until a friend invited me to join a fledgling writing group. I wrote my first novel, Decomposing Maggie, through that group of supportive women. I can’t believe it has been 20 years!

Where do you get your ideas?
I write about topics that interest me personally, which generally fall into the categories of ecological and social issues. In my fiction, I’ve written about grief, about disabilities, mental illness, homelessness, ocean pollution, marine ecology, killer whales, classical music, trees, forest ecology and habitat loss, climate change and even a little romance.


What is your writing process?
I call my process the ‘whenever’ school of writing. When I was first writing and still with young children at home, I wrote whenever I got some free time. I never procrastinated. I would sit down and start typing (although not always the most brilliant words). Now that it’s just me and my husband, also a writer, I tend to procrastinate more. But when I do get into a project, I stay focused, set my own deadlines if I don’t have external ones, and am quite productive.


Where do you do your best writing?
I have a beautiful bright loft above the kitchen, with a small deck and a view of the ‘Cut’, an ocean pass on which our home is located. I joke that I write with one eye focussed on the computer and the other on the nature going by outdoors. When I really want to concentrate, I head out to a small 100 square foot former children’s playhouse that we call the Dylan Thomas cabin. But the location isn’t so important (sometimes it’s the dining room table) as taking the time to write for periods long enough to get ‘in the zone,’ where hours can go by that feel like minutes. A wonderful place to be.

How long does it take you to write a book?
I’ve written 8 books in 20 years, so I guess an average of 2-4 years from research to publication. But it varies greatly. I wrote the first draft of my first novel in 6 months. I have a novel that’s been in progress now for 3 or 4 years. And a couple more partially finished manuscripts crying for my attention.

What kind of research do you do for a children’s book, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The kinds of children’s books I write, which are based on scientific information, take a lot of research. It’s important to me that the information in them is accurate and current. I read books and articles by scientists, I search the internet for interesting information, watch videos, interview experts and others, sometimes children, with knowledge and experience about the topic, and attend talks and conferences, for up to a year before I start writing. Then the process of turning it all into an engaging and interesting narrative begins. Once the text is written I have others, including scientists, read it and give me feedback. When the draft is ready and edited, my publisher then turns it into a beautiful work of art.

Tell us about what you are working on next.
I’m in the final stages of a non-fiction book for youth about the climate crisis, to be published in the fall of 2021 as part of Orca’s Issues series. After that, I’m planning another novel. Fiction is calling me.

You can connect with Ann here:

Website: www.anneriksson.ca
Facebook: Ann Eriksson Books
Twitter: @Ann_Eriksson
Instagram: annleriksson


Her Novels
Decomposing Maggie (2003, Turnstone Press) Note: Out of print
In the Hand of Anubis (2009, Brindle and Glass)
Falling From Grace (2010, Brindle and Glass)
High Clear Bell of Morning (2014, Douglas & McIntyre)
The Performance (2016, Douglas & McIntyre)

Her Children’s Non-Fiction
Dive In! Exploring Our Connection With The Ocean (2018, Orca Book Publishers)
Bird’s-Eye View (2020, Orca Book Publishers)

Please do check out these wonderful books and share this post with your readers.

Thanks, Ann for being a guest on my blog and sharing your love of the environment and its inhabitants.




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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© 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.