Darlene Foster's Blog

It is the stuff of legends. There are many tales written abut the Holy Grail, the cup believed to have been used by Jesus at the Last Supper, and a number of places claim to have it in their possession. When I visited the Spanish city of Valencia, I happened to stop in at the Cathedral of Valencia. And there it was, in its own side chapel, the Holy Grail! At least that is what was claimed. I took a picture at the time but didn´t think much about it. It was hard to believe that this goblet or chalice could indeed be the original Holy Grail. Scholars are not even sure one existed.

The Holy Chalice in the Cathedral of Valencia

The chalice in Valencia is a finely polished agate cup that archaeologists consider to be of Eastern origin from the years 100 to 50 BC. The finely engraved gold handles and foot, as well as the jewels that decorate the base, were added in medieval times. More about this Holy Chalice can be found here

The story is that Saint Peter entrusted it to Saint Lawrence who eventually sent it to his parents in Huesca, in the north of Spain for safekeeping before he was martyred during religious persecution. The Holy Grail was subsequently hidden in different places around Spain for the next 450 years before its final arrival at Valencia Cathedral in the 15th century as a gift to the king. And it has been there ever since.

Recently I saw this short video that provides some facts indicating it could be the original chalice. I would like to think it is and that I was lucky enough to see it. Who knows after two thousand years? What do you think?

https://www.bbc.com/reel/playlist/ancient-mysteries?vpid=p0bt6xl9

Valencia is an amazing city and worth a visit should you be in Spain. I will write more about it and the troupe of dancers I was lucky to meet outside the cathedral, in another post.

Dancers in traditional Valencian dress.

I woke up to this amazing review of Amanda in Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind. This brightened a dull rainy day. Thanks to Diane Tibert, a talented author from Eastern Canada.

Amanda in New Mexico is an ideal book for children who are ready to read chapter books. It’s not too long or too complex that a mid-elementary student won’t be able to read it. My daughter would have been able to read this book by mid-way grade 2. Certainly, grade 3 students will be able to read it.

This is one of many books Canadian author Darlene Foster has written in the Amanda series. Foster has sent Amanda to several places on the globe, including England and Holland. In fact, there’s a sneak peek of Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action in the back of the paperback I read.

Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind has just enough spookiness to intrigue children but not scare them or give them nightmares. Foster leaves the ending open in the way she doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of ghosts, which I think is an excellent way to do it because . . . sometimes I believe in ghosts and sometimes I don’t.

Read the rest of the review here

Writing under the name Diane McGyver, you can check out her books here

My review for A December Knight by Diane McGyver

A Christmas romance with a twist. I enjoyed this contemporary knight in shining armour tale. Lily is a hardworking single mom who doesn’t believe in Christmas, love or dreams coming true. But, things take a turn when a handsome but bumbling man enters her store. The characters are believable. Since I’ve worked in retail over Christmas, those scenes rang true. Throw in a nasty co-worker, a sweet ten-year-old daughter, a goth teenager and a demanding ex-wife, what could possibly go wrong. A well-written story with some surprises and a satisfying ending, well worth a read any time of the year.

“That is one good thing about this world…there are always sure to be more springs.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

I hope everyone is enjoying the first day of spring if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. This is typically a time for new birth. So to celebrate, I am revealing the cover of my upcoming new birth, book #9 of the Amanda Travels series.

Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral

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 bookstore, 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 colourful gardens of the painter Claude Monet, all the time looking for clues as to who would want to destroy such a beautiful, historic cathedral.

Comments from beta readers:

Children all over the world, impatiently waiting for this latest addition to the Amanda travel series, will not be disappointed! M. 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. S. MacArthur

So, without further ado… Drum roll please… Here it is!

I hope you love it as much as I do.

The book is scheduled to be birthed, I mean released in September 2022.

“If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Happy to be a guest on Sally Cronin´s Smorgasbord Bookshelf where I share an extract of Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

In this series you are invited to share an extract of 500 words from your most recent book published within the last 12 months. Details at the end of the post.

The aim of the series

  1. To showcase your latest book and sell some more copies.
  2. Gain more reviews for the book.
  3. Promote a selection of your other books that are available.

Today I am sharing an extract from the YA adventure by Darlene Foster. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (An Amanda Travels Adventure Book 8) – I have read the book and can highly recommend.

About the book

Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.

Amanda is intrigued…

View original post 1,100 more words

March 3 was World Book Day this year and many schools encourage students to dress up as a favourite character from a book. I was delighted that one young reader dressed as Amanda in Spain! Her aunt sent me a picture. How special is that?

I love seeing who children choose to dress up as. A friend´s granddaughter dressed as Heidi, from a book I loved as a child. The young girl was upset that her mummy was in the hospital for three weeks, so her grandmother read a chapter of Heidi to her every night before bed, which settled her down nicely. It was her grandmother’s favourite book and now it is her favourite book too. Isn´t her costume great!

I now want to read this wonderful book, set in Switzerland, again.

I was invited to do a virtual visit to a Year 5 class in Birmingham, England to discuss Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting, as they were reading it in class.

This is part of the email from the teacher:

Dear Darlene,

I hope this email finds you well.

This year I am again using your wonderful text, Amanda in Spain in my English lessons to link to our Viva Espana topic. I have another class of Year 5 pupils who are absolutely mesmerised by every word and complain each time I close the book when a chapter ends!

I am emailing in the hope that you would be willing to do another virtual meet, like the one we arranged last year? We will have started a second of your books, in Reading lessons instead – Amanda in England. My class last year, LOVED this book just as much. We read the last chapter eating a scone with jam and cream to celebrate! I hope to do this again also. In fact, my previous pupils, who are based in the classroom next door, keep asking myself and the current pupils which chapter we are on and what has happened! I think that is a true sign of how much your book enthralled them.

I’m off to place tomatoes on the tables to enhance my lesson on the Tomatina chapter now! Hope to hear from you soon.

Now if that doesn´t make an author´s heart sing!!

What a delightful class, we had so much fun. The visit was the day after WBD so I asked who they dressed up as and they told me everyone dressed as a Harry Potter character! That would have been great to see.

Each student had prepared a comment or question about the book, writing in general, and Spain. Some practised using the Spanish words in the book.

Here are some of the comments and questions:

Reading Amanda in Spain made me want to visit Spain.

The book was amazing and now I want to read more Amanda Travels books.

After I read the book, we tried tapas.

I was inspired to research Guadi and discovered he was a famous architect.

After reading your book, I was inspired to write a story called Pedro and the Missing Blanket.

Have you been to The Prado Museum and did you see the painting?

Have you taken part in Tomatino?

Have you ever been to a fiesta?

Will we see Dona and Francisco in any other books?

Will we get to know more about Amanda´s parents in other books?

Besides, travel, what other hobbies does Amanda have?

What inspires you to write these books?

Why did you move to Spain?

Have you been to a bullfight?

What advice would you give a young author?

Who would you use as an illustrator if you decided to have the books illustrated?

How much time do you spend proofreading each book?

Have you written any books for adults?

Aren´t these just the best questions? They were all so well-spoken, polite and sincere.

I also read a couple of pages from Amanda in Malta which they loved. This was my second visit to this school, and later the teacher told me that the class from last year were watching through the window and wished they could have been part of it.

Visiting classrooms in person or virtually is the best thing about being a children´s author.

I hope everyone had a super World Book Day!

Who would you choose to dress up as?

The second part of Madmudslinger’s interview with Rebecca Bud. Hear about her creative process, ekphrastic art, and messages for future archaeologists. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Runes by https://madmudslinger.com/

I decided today would be a good day to pull a Rune. I wrote about my special set of Runes made by my daughter here. The rune I pulled today was Initiation-Perth. I am using the explanation from the booklet published by the potter and included with every set. There may be other explanations. In the introduction of the booklet, she encourages people to look at other books on Runes and learn more about the history of this ancient Norse and Germanic alphabet.

Perth is for becoming whole, a secret matter, something hidden, and mystery.

Your ways to becoming enlightened are very private and cannot be shared. You are freeing yourself to gain a broader perspective. Be prepared for lucky rewards.

If you pull the Rune in a reversed position:

What you see as bad luck, will come with rewards also. Lessons are being learned.

Stay in the here and now, this is where the self-work gets done. Perseverance and patience are your friends.

I pulled the rune in an in-between position, lateral instead of vertical, so I feel both messages are fitting for me. Gaining a broader perspective is something I work on, looking carefully at both sides of every situation is important. Perseverance and patience are indeed my friends and was worth a reminder at this time.

I hope you enjoyed the Rune reading. I plan to share more.

I am over at Book Club Mom´s blog today sharing a review of an awesome book I read.

Book Club Mom

Hi Everyone! Today I’d like to welcome Darlene Foster, today’s contributor to What’s That Book. Thank you, Darlene!

Title: The Shadow of the Wind

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Genre: Magical Realism/Historical Mystery

What’s it about? One cold morning in 1945, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel to a labyrinthine library of forgotten titles, hidden in the old city of Barcelona. Allowed to choose one book, Daniel pulls out The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. But as Daniel grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in this book. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to discover the truth about the life and death of Julian Carax, and to save those he left behind. A book lover´s book, and a tale of obsession, the story brings alive the magic and mystery of Barcelona, its…

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I was gifted a set of special postage stamps from a long-time friend. The stamps feature members of her family who immigrated to Amber Valley, Alberta over one hundred years ago. How special to have your family featured on a postage stamp. I am delighted to own a set.

I will let my friend´s daughter, Gillian White, tell you about the history of her forefathers.

Last year my Great, Great Grandfather Jordan Murphy (he’s the handsome one in the middle) and his two grandchildren were featured on a Canadian stamp for black history month! Such an honour!

I’ll share with you a little bit of the history of Black Canadians and my Great Great Grandfathers Journey.

In the early 1900s about 1000, African American’s moved from the United States to Western Canada in hopes of finding a better life…..Canada was offering small sections of land for a very little amount of $10! This applied to many African Americans looking for freedom.

My Grandfather was one of the few looking to escape racism, prejudice, Jim Crow (forced segregation between blacks and whites). It was a very dangerous time for Black people, especially where he was from in Oklahoma.

My Great, Great Grandfather Jordan Murphy made the long trek to Amber Valley, North of Edmonton and this settlement is believed to be the most Northerly all-black community that has ever existed in the world. It was a long journey, by train, horse and buggy and then lots of hardship breaking ground and building a new life – while still facing adversity, discrimination and marginalization.

I’m so darn grateful for my grandfather’s bravery and perseverance because of him, we live in a country with so many opportunities and freedom.

written by Gillian White

Check out Gillian´s website, podcasts, and newsletters which are full of inspiration, music and recipes. I look forward to them every month.

https://www.gillian-white.com/newsletter

https://www.gillian-white.com/

https://www.buzzsprout.com/

I also found this wonderful video, narrated by descendants of the original homesteaders.

Winner of the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Excellence in Digital Storytelling; About 100 km North of Edmonton is Amber Valley, one of the first all-Black settlements in Canada. Arriving in 1909, the pioneers of this community battled the elements and racism to not only survive but thrive.

I am so pleased to know this family and learn more about their rich heritage, an integral part of Canada´s history.

I am one of the guests on Sue Roven´s Meet and Greet https://suerovens.com/meet-greet-author-q-as/ where we discuss how writing has changed our lives, audiobooks and other writer-type things. Check it out, I´m the third interview. You will meet some other amazing authors as well.

Author Meet & Greet!

All are welcome here.

The 4 most current interviews are posted here.

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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.