Darlene Foster's Blog

My blogging friend, Beetley Pete, has been running a series of posts featuring photographs from post-war Britain. They are fascinating, a great look back at another time and another place. I would suggest you check them out here.

I love old photographs and am so pleased that my family is a family of picture takers. Over the years I have accumulated some wonderful old pictures from the Canadian prairies. So I thought I would post a few of them from time to time as others may enjoy them too. Many will be of family and some will be poor quality. The following are from the 1950s.

This four-generation picture is one of my favourites. Seated is my great-grandmother, and on the left is my grandmother holding little me (and teddy). My mom is on the right. These three women were a huge influence in my life. The shadow of my dad taking the picture makes it even more special.

Another favourite with special women in my life. From left to right, my aunt with my cousin, Mom holding my little brother, me (with teddy), my paternal grandmother, a close family friend I called Aunty and her two children (who I’m still friends with).

Now here is one I just love. I am on the right with my aunt and my brother. We were playing wedding and needed a bridesmaid so we put a dress on my younger brother. He looks so happy because we actually let him play with us. We look a bit guilty, I think. He is not fond of this picture but has forgiven us. I think he looks so cute!

Two farm kids from the 1950s at Hilda, Alberta. One now lives in Thailand, the other in Spain. Who would have thought?

Here I am on the farm with my brother and a snowman we had just built; our dog lurking in the background.

My next little brother with my mom’s teenage sisters, my dear aunts. Another favourite picture.

There you have it, six pictures from another time. I have more to share later.

Thanks for joining me on my trip down memory lane.

Do you enjoy looking at old pictures?

I was invited to be a guest on Karen Mossman’s blog in her feature, About a Book. Check out the interview where I talk about where I got ideas for Amanda in France as well as a quote and an excerpt.

Where did the idea for the story come from?

My dream to visit the romantic city of Paris came true when we took our dog on a road trip to visit friends living on the outskirts of the city. Paris, and the surrounding area, was everything I imagined it to be and more. Our friends kindly took the time to show us around this fabulous city as well as Monet’s gardens in Giverny and the amazing Palace of Versailles. 

Read more here

I’m over at Book Club Mom’s blog sharing my news. A great blog with excellent reviews and entertaining YouTube videos about books. Worth following.

Book Club Mom

Darlene Foster

Author name: Darlene Foster

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure/Travel

Books: Amanda Travels Series

News: Book #9, in the Amanda Travels series is soon to be released. This time we find Amanda Ross in Paris, France.  She’s in awe of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. While there, she gets to work as a volunteer and stay in a famous book store, along with her bestie Leah and Leah’s eccentric Aunt Jenny. A dream come true for a book lover like Amanda.

But things are happening that may ruin her trip to this amazing city. While she’s at the Paris Opera House there is a bomb threat. Then the lights go out during their visit to the Louvre. Worst of all, a devastating fire blazes in Notre Dame. Why does a mysterious man, who claims to be a busker…

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The final edits are done! Whew. At times it seems as if we will never get there but it always feels so good once we get to this stage.

Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral, the ninth book in the Amanda Travels series, is scheduled to be released on September 13, 2022. However, it is now available on NetGalley if you would like a free digital advanced reading copy and are willing to write a review. http://netgal.ly/eLELmj

Amanda is in love! With Paris – the city of love. She’s in awe of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. While there, she gets to work as a volunteer and stay in a famous book store, along with her bestie Leah and Leah’s eccentric Aunt Jenny. A dream come true for a book lover like Amanda.

Except, while she’s at the Paris Opera House there is a bomb threat. Then the lights go out during their visit to the Louvre. Worst of all, a devastating fire blazes in Notre Dame. Why does a mysterious man, who claims to be a busker, writer and artist, show up every time something bad happens?

Join Amanda as she explores the exciting streets of Paris, the fabulous Palace of Versailles and the gardens of the painter Claude Monet, all the time looking for clues as to who would want to destroy such a beautiful, historic cathedral.

Here is what beta readers have had to say about Amanda in France:

“Revisiting Paris with Amanda was a roller-coaster ride through the city I once knew so well. A great adventure story, and I couldn’t put it down!”
Maureen Moss, author of The Tour Guide Life – It Could be Yours, More to Life and There’s a Funnelweb on the Floor!

“Amanda’s latest romp around the world’s favourite city of love will appeal to both the armchair traveller and the mystery fan.” Gina McMurchy-Barber Author of The Jigsaw Puzzle King  (Winner of the 2021 Silver Birch Awards) 

“Children all over the world, impatiently waiting for this latest addition to your Amanda travel series, will not be disappointed!” Marion Iberg

“I found the book compelling in the way a tragic news story has been woven into a mystery for children.  Readers will want to explore more about the famous cathedral after reading this book.” Sheila MacArthur

A short excerpt for you:

As night fell and the sky grew darker, roaring flames rose higher, painting the sky bright red, orange, and yellow. From inside, the sounds of crackling and falling timbers caused Amanda to shiver when she thought of the destruction. As if at a funeral, the crowd watched silently.

 An immense sadness crushed Amanda’s chest.

Notre Dame before the fire

I am excited to hear what readers think of this adventure.

This could easily be our house.

One of my blogging buddies, John Howell, posts good news on Fridays, which always makes my day. We are bombarded with so much bad news and negativity, that good news is so welcome. Here is a good news story about dogs he recently posted https://johnwhowell.com/2022/05/27/friday-johnku-aka-tgif-fri-yay-good-news-16/

John has two adorable dogs himself, Lucy and Twiggy, who write their own post every week. Check out John’s blog to read more about them. He is also the author of some very good books.

Speaking of good news, I want to share an incredible story posted in one of our local papers here in Spain. It is a story about Zeppelin, (Zep) a dog who showed up at a local animal rescue shelter. He was a friendly dog, well behaved and popular with the volunteers. The shelter was eagerly looking for him to be adopted. Two months later, a woman and her family came in looking to adopt a dog.

A burglar had broken into their home two months earlier and had stolen everything. Even the dog was gone. They assumed the burglar had killed him. They had had a very bad year and were obviously depressed. All their things had been stolen, their dog was dead and their father had passed away a year earlier. After two months they decided to adopt another dog to help ease the pain. When they went to the local animal shelter, who did they see but Zeppelin. They all shouted, “That’s our dog!” There was Zep, alive and well and happy to see them.

It was reported that there weren’t enough tissues that day at the shelter!

Doesn`t that just make your heart melt?

As many of you know, we have two rescue dogs. We adopted Dot six years ago and added Lia to our family a little over a year ago. We love them to bits and there is never a dull moment with them. Here are a few pictures of them.

Me and my girls, Lia and Dot
Lia made herself at home very quickly
Sharing the bed

You may think all they do is sleep, but it is the only time I can get a good picture!

OK, I got one when they were not sleeping.
They love their yard

They enjoy going to the beach and playing on the rocks
Going for coffee with Dad
Sharing treats with their doggie friends
Dot on her third birthday. She was happier when she got to eat the cupcake.
Waiting for dad to take them for a car ride
A good friend painted this for me. I love it!

They spend a lot of time barking at nothing.

Perhaps I should try this

Do you have any good news or dog stories to share?

The first time I pulled the blank rune, I was very disappointed. But then I read the meaning in the booklet my daughter put together and realized it was the perfect rune for me at the time.

The Blank Rune

The Blank Rune represents the unknowable, fate, nothingness, and mystery.

There is no answer to your issue. Some things are not knowable; that is the wisdom addressed by this rune. Rather than feeling a deeper frustration from no answer to be had, think of the unknowable as a relief. Ah, I no longer need to search for answers here. You must take what is to follow.

There are no specific preparation and certainly no way out. Courage is called for when leaping empty-handed into the void.

I am the sort of person who always wants answers. So this rune really speaks to me. And I often pull it. Like today. So I better gather up my courage and leap into the void once again!

I have written about my set of runes made by my potter daughter before, here and here.

Rune meanings are varied and have been handed down through the mists of time since their ancient beginnings in approximately the 1st Century AD.

The Norse runes are part of an ancient Pro-Germanic tradition and the runic alphabet consists of 24 rune symbols – with the addition of one notably blank rune to allow space for cosmic chance.

Runes in production with a furry supervisor.

Runes by  https://madmudslinger.com/

I was invited to share my mom’s pierogi recipe over at Bernadette’s New Classic Recipe blog. A great blog filled with fabulous recipes and stories to go along with them. I love recipes with a story connected to them. Check out the blog post and let me know if you try the pierogi recipe.

Mom’s Pierogi by Darlene Foster

One of my favourite memories about growing up on the farm is when Mom would make pierogi. It’s my ultimate comfort food. After mom passed away last year, I was determined to make them in her memory. Mine are never quite as good as hers were, though. As you mentioned, mothers seem to have a secret ingredient. I think that the ingredient must be love. 

Pierogi are from Eastern Europe and are called by a number of different names. In Russia and Ukraine, they are called varenyky and in our German Canadian home we called them case knoephla, but they are mostly known by their Polish name of pierogi. Here is mom’s recipe. I’m so glad I got it from her. Whenever I start to miss her, I make a batch.

Click here for the rest of the article and the recipe.

What is your comfort food?

PS I had some pierogi last night!

Caravaca de la Cruz

I love horses and enjoy equestrian events. I was delighted to spend a day in the town of Caravaca de la Cruz during the annual Caballos del Vino Fiesta. The horses were proudly paraded around town in all their splendour, the streets teamed with local families wearing black, white and red outfits, Knights Templar, Moors and Christians mingled and various bands played. The air was filled with excitement.

Moors
Christians
Knights Templar
All ages take part in the festivities. This little caballero is so cute.
One of the many bands

At one point I became stuck in the middle of a parade on a narrow side street. I had no choice but to join in and dance along with everyone else as we followed the band. So much fun.

The main event is held later in the day when the wine horses race up the side of the mountain accompanied by four horsemen on foot. The horse with horsemen that arrives at the top in the fastest time, is declared the winner. Should one of the horsemen let go before reaching the top, the horse is disqualified.

Why do they do this? Like most things in Spain, it is based on a legend. Legend has it that during the time the Castle of Caravaca was besieged by Muslim troops, the Knights Templar went in search of water for the starving citizens. They only found wine. Dodging the enemy, they raced up the mountain beside their horses loaded with filled wineskins. They were considered heroes and their horses were decorated in appreciation. This tradition is now carried on as a competition once a year at the beginning of May.

The horses and their elaborate silk mantles, embroidered with fine gold thread, are the central focus of the festival. Each mantle can take a whole year to make and cost thousands of euros. There are prizes for the best-decorated horses as well. It was hard to pick which one was my favourite.

Decorated from head to tail
Pretty in pink
Interesting mantle with pictures of famous people.
The castle that had been under siege
The path the horses have to run up. There are many more spectators at the time of the race.

We did not stay to watch the race as it can be dangerous for spectators, but I did watch part of it on a big screen TV at the restaurant where we enjoyed a paella lunch.

What an amazing event. One I was glad to have attended and will not forget.

There are some great YouTube videos of the event. Here’s one:

I have a giveaway to tell you about that you absolutely do not want to miss. Angela and Becca, the co-authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their book’s 10th anniversary with a massive giveaway!

They’ve scoured the internet for the best tools to help a writer strengthen their storytelling and give their career a boost – I’m talking software licences, subscriptions, course bundles, and even a full set of the Writers Helping Writers thesaurus guides. And some lucky writer is going to WIN IT ALL.

I would love for one of you to win, so head over to this post and enter by May 13th. And good luck!

Ten years ago, a good friend gave me a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression for Christmas and it changed my writing life. I use it every day I write. I would suggest looking into The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression if you struggle with how to show your character’s emotion. This book has 130 different emotions and gives you lists of ways to describe them through body language, thoughts, visceral sensations, dialogue cues, and more. It’s helped me, and maybe it will help you!

(You can find a few sample entries here if you want to see what these lists look like.)

Congratulations Angela and Becca and thanks for making writing easier for those of us who call ourselves writers!

I am part of an excellent series on Sally Cronin’s blog called, I Wish I knew Then What I Know Now. There are many things I wish I had known when I was younger, but I chose to talk about unnecessary worrying. If you haven’t already read it on Sally’s popular blog, check it out and let me know what you think about the subject.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

I wish I knew then what I know now! by Darlene Foster

I believe we learn as we go, and specific knowledge appears when we need it. If we knew everything at birth, there would be nothing to live for. But one thing I wish I had learned earlier in life is that worrying is futile.

I come from a long line of worriers; my mother and grandmother were masters of the art of worrying. I’m sure the women who came before them…

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© Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com, 2022. 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.