Darlene Foster's Blog

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.




Like everyone else, many of my plans for this year have been ruined due to the global pandemic. A long-anticipated trip to Venice, a trip to the UK to see longtime friends and to celebrate a good friend’s 70th birthday, a meeting with a Canadian friend in Valencia, visits from Canadian friends during their around the world tour, and a trip to Canada to attend my youngest grandson’s high school graduation and a huge family reunion – all cancelled. But the biggest disappointment of all, is missing the opportunity to see my 91-year-old mom.

Mom is well looked after in a care home in Medicine Hat, Alberta. I keep in touch with the staff on a regular basis, and they have informed me that she is doing well, is happy and healthy. They are doing a great job of keeping the residents safe, and no cases of COVID 19 have been detected in the care home, which is a relief and I am so thankful.

But she is not allowed any visitors, for obvious reasons. As a result, I’ve not been able to Skype or FaceTime with her from Spain for the past four months, as it is the visitors who facilitate these video calls. I keep feeling she will think she’s been abandoned because no one comes to see her. I send her emails, as do my brothers, that the staff read out to her, but I really wish I could see her, at least on a screen if not in person.

The care home recently started allowing the residents to have visits by appointment. These visits are held outside with the regulated two-metre distancing and both parties wearing masks. My darling granddaughter made an appointment last week and visited Mom. It was hard not to be able to hug her great-grandmother or hold her hand. Mom has difficulty hearing and her own voice is very soft so the distance made conversation almost impossible. Initially, mom didn’t recognize her, but when she pulled down the mask for a quick smile, mom nodded and smiled in recognition. Of course, there were tears. As there were for me when I saw the pictures and video.

Mom wearing her face mask.
A quick photo of her without the mask.
Mom with a visit from her great-granddaughter.

There wasn’t much conversation but there was a lot of love. I was so happy to see these images and to see that Mom is all right and smiling.

This is what my dear granddaughter had to say about her visit:

“I booked a visit with my lovely Great Grandma. I have always had a close emotional bond with Grandma Frisch. She often took care of me when I was young, most weekends and more, and I returned the care to her when she needed it. I love her so much. Grandma’s existence throughout her whole life thrived on family. Thrived on making sure her family was ok by visiting, keeping in touch, and keeping close bonds. She is now in her 90s so she cannot hear very well and speaks very softly. Visits with Grandma are always in close contact so we can hear each other and feel the close presence.

Visiting Grandma like this, in today’s world, I had no idea I would break down. She didn’t recognize who I was at first with a mask on so I broke the rule and pulled it down for a smile. She lit up and smiled back and said I love you. We sat for our 30 minutes of no touch, no conversation, just eye contact. And uncontrollable tears from me. It is saddening, heartbreaking, and just too frustrating to even bare the strength of holding it back. I tried to hide my tears as best as I could… and I’m usually pretty strong.. but I could see that she knew. She tried to unlock her wheelchair brakes to come to console me. But of course, she couldn’t. So I smiled instead and said over and over I Love You.

I did ask, as she was about to be taken back, that we take off our masks for a real smile. The nurse thankfully said that was ok.

Our poor elders. What is this for … what is worse… and at what cost? Humans need humans. Humans need touch, humans need love…. we survive on it. Love through our eyes at a distance will have to do for now. Grandma is well, Grandma looks amazing, and I told her everyone loves her and thinks about her every day. ❤️

Suddenly small things don’t matter anymore like eyebrow waxing or hair cuts, when there are innocent people literally dying alone. And not just from COVID19.”

I feel incredibly proud of this young woman and touched by her words. And so very grateful that she shared this with me.

Who have you been missing during these days of lockdown? Have you been able to see your loved ones?

Stay safe my friends.

I am delighted to have the amazing Sally Cronin as my guest today as she tells us about her adventurous life as a child traveller.

Travels as a Child Cape Town, South Africa – 1963-1965 – Sally Cronin

My father was a Royal Naval officer, and by the time I was ten years old, I had quite a few adventures under my belt. When I was 18 months old my father was posted to Sri Lanka (Ceylon at that time) for two years to a place where my early memories were formed. In early 1959, when I was six-years-old, we moved to Malta for two years, flying via Rome airport, where my two-year-old brother escaped and was recaptured running across the tarmac under a plane.


But the biggest adventure would be in early 1963 when we left for Cape Town, South Africa, so my father could take up his shore-based post at Simon’s Town.

I was in my last year at primary school in Portsmouth, and there was some talk about leaving me behind for the two years as a boarder, with the navy paying for one return trip a year to visit my parents and brother. There was no way I was going to agree to that; I was already packed and ready to go.

Our house in Portsmouth was let out for two years to another naval family that had been posted to the area. We all underwent a medical examination and had a number of top-up vaccinations. Then we flew out of RAF Brize Norton on a charter flight with other service personnel going to Africa, and I have a vivid memory of the seats facing the rear of the plane which seemed very strange. We took off in the early hours of the morning and were woken about 5 a.m. for a greasy breakfast of egg and bacon, which we children, of course, wolfed down. It was a very long flight and there was no inflight entertainment as there would be today. I had a pile of books to wade through so I was very happy.


We arrived in Nairobi to be met by a liaison officer who drove us out of the city in the searing sunshine of the mid-afternoon. Despite living in Sri Lanka with its humid summers, it was my first experience of the dry heat of Africa. I was fascinated by the mirage effect the scorching sun produced on the long straight road ahead of us, with trucks and cars floating several feet off the ground. I just knew Africa was going to be full of wonders. That night we stayed at a safari hotel with rooms around a central courtyard; packed with souvenir sellers. I remember my mother bought a beautiful carved wooden giraffe for me that survived until only recently when a leg broke off in our last move nearly 60 years later.

The next morning we were driven back to Nairobi early for a mid-morning flight to Cape Town, only to be placed in detention as my brother and I were missing one of the necessary vaccinations. Yellow Fever requirements had been overlooked at our medical because they had not been aware that we would be staying in transit (more than 12 hours) in Kenya which was considered high risk for the disease. My parents’ earlier Yellow Fever vaccinations from their time in Sri Lanka were valid, but as I was a baby when we were posted there, I had not been vaccinated. It looked like we would be refused entry into South Africa without it. I remember my father leaving us in a small room with our luggage, to make telephone calls, and eventually, he returned with a doctor who gave us children the vaccination and stamped the paperwork. They were not happy that it had not been administered inside of the regulation time frames but allowed us to continue with agreement from the authorities in Cape Town that we would be quarantined for 10 days on arrival.

The Royal Navy put us up at a hotel in Newlands, a southern suburb of Cape Town, and my father took up his post at Simon’s Town. We had a liaison officer who took my mother around to both my brother’s new school in Rondebosch and mine, which was Newlands Public School, in preparation for starting after our quarantine was completed. In South Africa at the time, children started formal education at 7 and stayed in primary until 13, unlike the UK which was 5 to 11 years old. I was expected to learn Afrikaans as soon as possible, so I was put in the class with children of 12 years old for general studies but joined the 7-year-olds for their Afrikaans lessons. It made for a very interesting transition period, but having already been to three schools during our travels, I just got on with it.

Sally in her school uniform


After six weeks, we moved into a house rented by the navy for us in a suburb of Newlands and close to a large park. I was bought a bike to get to school, and I also used it to explore the local area at the weekends. It was customary when families left to return to the UK after their two years, that dogs and other pets were found homes with new families. It was not long before we inherited a rather battle-scarred boxer dog, called Bosun whose bark was thankfully a cover for a huge heart. For two children trying to adapt to new schools and language, it was a great comfort to get a slobbery welcome when we came through the door.

Having tea on the stoep in Newlands


We settled in to enjoy the wonderful life that living in Cape Town offered. We went to the beach most weekends, including on Christmas day. I had a body surfer and spent my time in the water, only appearing occasionally for some fresh peaches. We would join other naval families on long weekends in the Ceres Mountains in the Northern Cape, where we stayed in rondavels and swam in a huge swimming pool filled with freezing water from the mountains… All our meals were cooked on the outside BBQ including boiling a kettle for tea. In the evenings we would have dinner with the group and then us older kids would leave the adults to their demi-johns of local wine; heading for the now darkened pool with its cold water and frogs for a last swim.

After a year my sister Diana joined us from England and it was great to have her with us. She worked on the Cape Argus newspaper and featured on the front page from time to time when they needed an attractive face to front a story.

The Edinburgh Castle ship  https://commons.wikimedia.org

When it came time to return to England it very sad to leave the friends we had made during the two years, and also our much loved Bosun. Thankfully my parents found another naval family who would give him a new home and we made our tearful goodbyes. We left Cape Town in the late summer of 1965 on the Edinburgh Castle, part of the Union-Castle Line, and incidentally, the same ship my sister Diana would later re-join, but this time as part of the crew as a ship’s purser. We left the harbour and sailed straight into a violent storm, and for the next couple of days we were virtually the only passengers eating in the dining room; clearly, we had inherited our sea legs from my father. For all the passengers who had not crossed the Equator before, there was a ceremony to mark the occasion. I have vivid memories of sliding along a slippery pole without falling off, being given a certificate, and feeling very proud of myself for the achievement.

My father’s next posting was as Commanding Officer of RNAS Inskip, a wireless transmission station in the wilds of Lancashire, about 20 minutes on the bus to my school in Preston and 30 minutes to the holiday town of Blackpool. I was enrolled into the Priory grammar school for girls and again because of the age disparity, I found myself in the second year, but behind everyone in the class with regard to virtually every subject, with a great deal of catching up to do. I had developed quite a strong accent during our time in South Africa; quite useful when you are the only English child out of 100 and wish to remain under the radar. But it was not long before I had adopted a passable Lancashire accent which allowed me to blend in. I remember that first wet and cold winter vividly and wished I was back in Cape Town playing with my friends in the sunshine.


Bio for Sally Cronin
I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another twelve books since then on health and also fiction, including four collections of short stories. My latest book is a collection of verse, micro fiction and speculative short stories titled Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words


I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.

Where to find Sally and her books:
Amazon Author Page US: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
Amazon Author Page UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-smorgasbord-blog-magazine-and-sally-cronin/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1

Here is my review of What’s in a Name? by Sally Cronin https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2146165416?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

If you haven’t already, I would suggest you connect with Sally. Her blog is full of great posts, book reviews, jokes, food, music and much more.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-smorgasbord-blog-magazine-and-sally-cronin/

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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My home is decorated mostly with items I´ve brought back from my travels. Since we can’t travel right now, it’s comforting to remember past trips. We enjoy looking through our photographs or at items we have brought back to remind us of wonderful times. I don’t do a lot of shopping when I travel, but I like to bring back a piece of art or handicraft as a memento of the place we’ve visited.

One of these items is a small, rustic vase decorated with rawhide that sits on my mantel. Something I couldn’t bear to leave behind, so it came with me to Spain. I believe I purchased it in Arizona at a Native American craft shop. I remember asking the salesperson about the background of the pottery, as I always like to know about the art I purchase. She kindly wrote the name of the Native North American Indian tribe the artist belonged to on the back of the American Express receipt. I got busy and forgot to do any research when I got home.

The other day as I was dusting the mantel, I wished I had looked up some information about the creators of the pottery. I reached inside and found a piece of paper. I pulled out a yellowed and very faded receipt. The young woman’s printing on the back of it was still clear: TARAHUMARA.

My piece of Tarahumara pottery

We had just watched a show on TV about the Tarahumara Indians who live in the Copper Canyon, in the state of Chihuahua, Northern Mexico. When I tutored Korean students in English, I used a lesson plan about the Tarahumara Racers who run a 90-mile race non-stop over rough terrain, often barefoot or wearing homemade huaraches, with little difficulty.

After doing some research, I found that author Christopher McDougall has written a book called Born to Run, where he highlights these amazing people with incredible running abilities.

Here is a short video about these special people.

Tarahumara pottery is made of rough earthen clay and is usually white, orange, or brown. A decorative slip made of red ocher powder and water is often applied. The vessel is left to dry and harden in the sun, before being placed into an open, dry flame for about an hour and a half. Rather than being polished and smooth, Tarahumara Indian pottery is rustic and still made as it has been for generations. Often strips of rawhide are stretched around the piece to add to the simple design.

What a great find. Although the American Express receipt was too faded to read the name of the store, I was able to make out the date, 04/15/ 92. I’ve had this piece of pottery for twenty-eight years and only just now learned more about it! It is now even more special.

Do you have anything you have brought back from your travels that has special meaning to you?

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!

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Pig on Trial

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