Darlene Foster's Blog

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mothers and mother figures out there. It will be different this year as we can’t get together, but the love will be just as strong. Recently I was guest on Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Friends and Family series where she featured a post I wrote about my dear mom. For those of you who haven’t seen it, enjoy.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new posts from your archives with a theme of family and friends. Very important as our support system at the moment as many of us are isolated and out of physical touch. If you would like details on how to participate here is the link:Posts from Your Archives April 2020 Family and Friends

Author Darlene Foster shares memories of her mother, a tribute on Mother’s Day 2015, which despite being celebrated on different dates around the world, is a very important day of celebration.

The Gift of a Wonderful Mother by Darlene Foster

Mother´s day is a special day in many parts of the world although is not celebrated on the same day. Today it is Mother´s Day in Canada and the US and it was Mother´s Day in Spain last Sunday. In the UK, Mothering Sunday, sometimes known as Mother’s Day, is held on the…

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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

I am a guest on Sally´s Smorgasbord Blog Magazine where she features a post from my archives about my wonderful dad.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new posts from your archives with a theme of family and friends. Very important as our support system at the moment as many of us are isolated and out of physical touch. If you would like details on how to participate here is the link:Posts from Your Archives April 2020 Family and Friends

Author Darlene Foster shares a lovely post about her dad, who was a real life cattle man, and also shares some of his down to earth wisdom. This was first posted in 2014

Cowboy Wisdom

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My Dad was a cowboy. Not the Hollywood type, but a real cowboy – a man who tended cattle. A hard-working man of integrity, loyalty and determination, he almost always wore his signature cowboy hat and boots, jeans and western shirt. He lived the code of the cowboy where a man’s word was a man’s word and you…

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My publisher reminded me that it has been ten years since we published my first book, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask. Ten years!!

It made me think back to my first book launch at Albany Books in Tsawwassen, BC. I was so excited and so scared. What if no one came? What if no one bought my book? What if no one liked it? How many times had I gone to a book launch or book signing and dreamt of one day having my own? Thanks to Central Avenue Publishing my life-long dream came true.

My first book launch!
I brought Ali Baba along and he was a big hit.
And lots of people came
And bought many books.

I was over the moon with happiness. I had to pinch myself, to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

And the following year I had another book launch for Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting.

Even more people came, the bookstore was packed and I sold more books.

So I wrote another book, Amanda in England: The Missing Novel, and launched it at Albany Books. No one could even tell I had a broken ankle.

I launched the next book, Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone, wearing the appropriate hat.

My biggest supporter!
Amanda fans

Then I moved to Spain and wrote Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music, but returned to Albany Books for the launch.

I was so pleased that my daughter could attend this launch

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind followed with another fun launch.

And then there was my recent launch of Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action. Well attended in spite of a rainy Vancouver day.

Friends and long time supporters
With my amazing publisher, Michelle Halket, who made all of this possible.
Nothing like seeing your books on the shelves of a bookstore
I’ve held all seven book launches at Albany Books, a wonderful independent bookstore with knowledgeable and super friendly staff.

Thank you to everyone who has attended my book launches over the past ten years, for buying my books and for spreading the word about them.

Thank you to Albany Books for hosting my book launches. Even though in lockdown, they are open for phone-in and online orders, with local curbside delivery and mail delivery otherwise. Please support your local bookstores at this time. https://www.albanybooks.com/

Thank you to Michelle Halket of Central Avenue Publishing for believing in me and my Amanda Travels series.

And thank you for coming along with me down memory lane. I wonder what the next ten years will bring. Stay strong, stay safe and stay home!

A year ago today, it was Maundy Thursday, when a friend and I attended a fabulous Easter parade in Lorca, here in Spain. Following my post from a couple of days ago, I decided it would be worth sharing more of this special event. Enjoy!

Darlene Foster's Blog

Easter week, Semana Santa, provides the most impressive and emotional fiestas here in Spain. Processions and parades around the country mix historic, biblical, artistic, cultural and social themes. Members of the different brotherhoods, dressed in their characteristic robes, parade through the streets while dozens of costaleros on foot carry ornate religious icons called pasos. This is a spectacular sight whether you are religious or not. No where do they do this better than in the town of Lorca where in 2007 their Holy Week was declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest. Its origin dates back centuries ago. I was lucky to have witnessed this event last week and wrote about what we saw before the parade started in the previous post.

As promised, here are some pictures of the actual event.

I was especially in awe of the horse-drawn chariots and performing horses. At times I felt like…

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Due to the worldwide pandemic, all Easter parades and celebrations for Semana Santa, (Holy Week) were cancelled in Spain. This is the most important week in the Spanish religious calendar and has been celebrated for centuries. Since we could not partake in a fiesta this year, I am sharing the parade I attended last year. It was so spectacular, it’s worth a revisit. Enjoy!

Darlene Foster's Blog

Semana Santa, Holy Week in Spain, is the annual tribute of the Passion of Jesus Christ celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods called cofradía and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter. Each place presents a different experience, from very sombre processions to lively spectacles. 

On Maundy Thursday a friend and I went by bus to the city of Lorca, about one and a half hours away, to attend their Easter parade that I had heard was one of the best in Spain. Although rain threatened, it managed to stay away and we were able to watch the three-hour parade without getting wet.

It was an amazing parade, one I will never forget. As usual, the local citizens and brotherhoods went all out with magnificent costumes, fabulous floats and heart stopping entertainment. 

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Happy Easter wherever you are and however you celebrate. It will be a different Easter for most of us as we will be staying in and connecting by social media. Today I’m being featured on Sally Cronin’s site as she holds an Easter parade. See if you recognize teenage me. Some wonderful songs featured as well. Enjoy the post and eat all the chocolate you want. We deserve it!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Easter Parade with music, guests and some Easter food… and an opportunity for you to introduce yourself in the comment section along with your blog URL and one for Amazon for your books. I hope you will enjoy the next couple of days and for a brief moment it lightens the separation we are all experiencing from our normal lives, away from family and friends.

The theme for the parade is ‘Flashback’ and my guests have all sent in a photograph from the 1960s through to the 1980s, along with a music request. There will be singing along and dancing, and I hope you will join in.

Please help yourself to a free coffee as you pass by.

My first guest today is author and poet Annette Rochelle Aben with her unmistakeable smile and blonde hair, with a photo taken at the start of…

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A great post featuring articles from people in various parts of the world and how they are dealing with the pandemic. Proof that we are all in this together, and globally we will get through it. My article about our little corner of Spain is included. Let us know how you are doing as well. Stay safe!

Empty beaches. Photo credit Darlene Foster

Views of COVID 19 – Thailand, Mexico, Spain and Australia

by Sue Slaght

In a time when our personal worlds have shrunk and we remain at home as much as possible, we wonder what are others experiencing? With gratitude, we begin a series on views of COVID 19, featuring friends, writers, photographers and acquaintances from around the world. 

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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.