Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Please pop over to Laura Best’s blog to read my interview with her where I talk about my latest book, You Can Take The Girl From the Prairie. Laura is a fellow Canadian author who has written some awesome books. We come from opposite sides of the country but have much in common.

Laura Best

Today, it is my extreme pleasure to welcome Darlene Foster to my blog. Darlene has graciously agreed to answer some of my questions about her newest book, fresh off the press. For those of you who are not familiar with Darlene or her work, here’s a bit about her.

Darlene Foster grew up on a farm/ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories. She is the author of the exciting Amanda Travels seriesfeaturing spunky Amanda Ross, a twelve-year-old girl who loves to travel. All ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in unique destinations.When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, Darlene enjoys spending time with her family and friends in Canada and at her house in Spain with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

  1. Could you tell us…

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Such wonderful news to wake up to! Thanks so much, Jennie Fitzkee for making this happen. Having my books in libraries is a huge dream come true.

A Teacher's Reflections

Thursday is my Read-Aloud day at the Groton Public Library.  When I arrived, the head children’s librarian was beside herself.

“Jennie!  Jennie!  The Amanda books are here!”

And then she showed me all the books.  Wow!  Nine books.

Of course we had to have our picture taken with all the books.


Thank you to the Groton Public Library for carrying the Amanda books.  Thank you, Darlene Foster, for authoring such an exciting series of books for children.  Adventure is always a big draw for children’s books; yet when history, geography, friendship, and conflict are included…well, it doesn’t get better than that.  Nancy Drew, move over!

Jennie

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Thirteen years ago today, my first print book was published. This was the realization of a dream come true since I was twelve years old when I had a short story published in the Winnipeg Free Press called Stretch Your Food Dollar. It was then that I decided I wanted to be a writer. Life happened, as it does. I got married, had children and worked at some very interesting jobs. I always dabbled in writing, took creative writing courses, sent out stories to writing competitions and submitted work to magazines, but not much came of my endeavours.

Visiting friends in the UAE (you may recognize them from the previous post)

I visited friends in the United Arab Emirates and fell in love with the country, the people and the culture. When I got home I decided to write a story about my experience. But it just wasn’t working for me, the excitement I felt was not coming through on the page. Then one sleepless night I recalled my friend stating that I was as excited as a twelve-year-old while I was there. So I began my story from the point of view of a twelve-year-old girl. The seeds to Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask were planted.

A painted door in the desert

Camels were everywhere. One of my favourite animals, so they had to be included in the story.

An amazing site to see was goats in the trees.

The actual perfume flask I bought while in the UAE.

It took me three years to complete the book. Once it was finished, I started the arduous journey of finding a publisher. I sent out many query letters and received a pile of rejection letters over the next five years. In the meantime, I kept revising and polishing the book. Each rejection letter became nicer and more encouraging. Then I got a call from a gentleman who said his daughter was starting an e-publishing company and would like to attend my writing group’s meeting as a guest speaker. I was keen to hear about this new way of publishing books. She explained things very well, we agreed to meet later for a coffee and she asked for a copy of my manuscript. Amanda’s first adventure was published in November 2009 as an e-book. And people bought it!

Then on April 13th, 2010, Central Avenue Publishing released Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask as a print book. My dream came true as I held my baby in my hands. Instead of nine months, it took nine years to birth this baby!

After all this time, this book is still getting great reviews. Here are two recent five-star reviews on Goodreads:

Amy Reade

I read this book a while back and just realized I never posted a review. The book is geared toward middle-grade readers, and if I were a twelve-year-old girl again, it is exactly the kind of adventure I would love to have! Even as an adult, I found myself transported to Arabia, solving a mystery and exploring the culture, the customs, the food, and the climate with Amanda. This type of book allows young readers to travel to far-flung places without leaving home and will very likely instill in them an inquisitive wanderlust.

Smitha Vishwanath

An enjoyable read providing factual information about the United Arab Emirates. The book is bound to instil curiosity, a love for travel and an appreciation of different cultures which is so essential in the current day. It makes for a perfect gift for middle-school children.
Having lived in the Middle East, I was impressed with the amount of information the author managed to pack in 108 pages in the most interesting manner. To read more of my review, click here. https://smithavpennings.com/2023/02/15/book-review-amanda-in-arabia-by-darlene-foster/

I am now working on the tenth book in the Amanda Travels series. Thank you to everyone who has helped me along this amazing journey!

Copyright ©2023 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

I’ve been working on this project for quite some time and finally have a cover to share. This may or may not be the final cover. Let me know what you think.

This is the blurb for You Can Take The Girl From The Prairie

A collection of short stories inspired by growing up on a prairie farm in the fifties and sixties. Some humorous and others sad, but all heartfelt. Stories about family life, cowboy wisdom, immigrant grandmothers, an inspiring teacher, and the arrival of a new sibling are part of this collection of tales from another time and another place. Proof that you can take the girl from the prairie but you can’t take the prairie from the girl.

I am hoping to publish this collection of short stories soon. Watch this space.

A fabulous interview with an author I admire and respect. I love her advice to new writers entering the writing and publishing arena? Please check it out.

Book Club Mom

Debra Purdy Kong

Name: Debra Purdy Kong

Books: Casey Holland mystery series: The Opposite of Dark, Deadly Accusations, Beneath the Bleak New Moon, The Deep End, Knock Knock, The Blade Man, A Gold Satin Murder

Genre: Crime Fiction

Background: I live near Vancouver, British Columbia and I’m the author of eleven mystery novels (three of them are out of print). After many years spent learning the craft of writing and the business side of things (I’m still learning), I now mentor newer writers through workshops offered by my local community center.

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer? In 1979 I spent a year travelling alone through Europe and working as a legal secretary in London, England. I wrote a lot of letters home, kept a journal, and began writing my first short stories to fill…

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I am honoured to be featured on Growing Bookworms today where I’m interviewed by Robbie Cheadle. Her fabulous review of Amanda in France is also included. A great day for me!

Writing to be Read

Today, I am delighted to introduce Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda travel series of books for children aged 9 to 12 years old. I have read several of the Amanda books and enjoyed them all.

Your Amanda stories appeal to me as they take me back to my own childhood readings days of The Famous Five and Adventure series. Was there any particular children’s author who influenced the style of your Amanda series?

That makes me very happy to hear this since the Enid Blyton books were very popular. I didn’t read the Famous Five series growing up in Canada, but I enjoyed The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope as they travelled to interesting places, encountered danger and solved mysteries. I also enjoyed Trixie Belden, Donna Parker, and Nancy Drew because the main character in each series is a young girl who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries. The…

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“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.


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© Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com, 2023. 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.