Darlene Foster's Blog

Stevie Turner is holding a short story competition with a Christmas theme for the month of December.  You might like to submit a story as well. https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2019/11/30/share-your-christmas-short-story-or-poem/  

This is my entry. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!!

The Bright Lights of Christmas by Darlene Foster

Ten presents this year, the best year ever. Cory Henderson’s eyes sparkled as he dropped to his knees and studied his precious pile of parcels wrapped in festive paper. Santa Clauses, reindeer and snowmen smiled back at him as he pulled out his gifts and lined them up. His mother wanted him to go to bed, but he continued to count his gifts under the tall Christmas tree covered in a profusion of bright lights and glittering ornaments.

“Just a few more minutes, please Mom,” he begged, excited as most nine-year-olds on Christmas Eve.

He counted the packages once more while arranging them under the tree with care. One from Uncle Bob; he always gave good gifts, usually something to do with sports. Two from Grandma and Grandpa; always the best because they seemed to know exactly what he wanted the most. One from Mom and one from Dad; since he´d thrown some pretty good hints around the last two months, some super stuff from his list were sure to be in those packages. One from his older brother, Scott, away studying in China; he always sent cool stuff. 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 tomorrow morning.

He wasn´t sure he would be able to sleep at all when his mother finally convinced him to go to bed. But, a bright light in his window woke him up from a dream of opening hundreds of presents. At first, he thought it was a light from Santa’s sleigh. Then, he thought a space ship might be nearby. Getting out of bed and tiptoeing to the window, he could see it was not Santa’s sleigh or a spaceship causing the bright light. Flames engulfed the house next-door. Never having seen a fire that close before, he found it scary and exciting at the same time. Mesmerized, Cory stared at the brilliant flames leaping out of the roof.

All of a sudden, he remembered that two little boys lived in that house. The family moved in two months ago. They came from another country, spoke with an accent and kept to themselves. The boys were younger than him, about five and seven.

Maybe the people were still in the house. His tummy did a flip-flop. Just as he heard the wail of fire trucks, he saw two hooded figures run out of the front door. As they reached the sidewalk, he realized two adults covered with blankets, carried a child each. 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.”

By the time they got outside, the fire department arrived. In no time, long hoses sprayed water onto the flames. Cory’s mom handed out warm coats. He noticed the little boys wearing his parkas from last year and the year before. Even with them on, they 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. Soon the fire was under control and it started to snow.

“Mom,” said Cory, “maybe we should all go into our house and get warm.”

His mom nodded and motioned everyone to follow her.

She made hot chocolate and put out gingerbread cookies they made the day before. The neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Zafrani, spoke quietly. The boys, Omar and Jamal, didn’t say anything. Their large brown eyes stared at the big Christmas tree covered with twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments. Beds were made up for everyone, the little boys in his brother’s room and their parents in the spare room. As the boys were about to go to bed for the remainder of the night, they took one more look at the tree and cried.

“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 a sick feeling in his stomach. Christmas Eve and their tree and all their gifts probably burnt. They would have no presents to open in the morning. How awful. He tossed and turned in his bed. How would he feel if it happened to him? Now he really couldn’t sleep and no longer looked forward to the morning either. How could he open all those gifts when they had nothing?

Then, he had an idea, jumped out of bed and put on the light. He pulled out some coloured paper, a pair of scissors and 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. Without looking at the tags, he replaced them with the new tags. 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.”

Cory never slept in on Christmas morning. He ran into the living room. Dad had plugged in the lights on the tree and turned on the fire in the fireplace. The room looked cozy and warm. 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 could wait to open the gifts.”

Ignoring her, he handed a gift to each of the spellbound boys.

The oldest boy read out his tag. “To Jamal. From Santa.” His eyes grew wider.

“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 Cory and raised his 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 is in your package?”

The young boy ripped the package open and produced a huge smile 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 he would never forget the smiles on the faces of those little boys as they discovered gifts under the bright, shiny tree for them.

He learned the real meaning of Christmas that year.

I am honoured to be a guest on Alethea’s Better World of Books where we talk about how Amanda never gives up trying to make the world a better place and my dream for a “Better World”. Hop on over and check it out. You know you need a break from Christmas preparations!

The Light Behind the Story

thDarlene Foster is a writer of children’s stories, a retired employment counsellor, an ESL tutor, a wife, mother and grandmother. Her grandson once gave her the nickname “super-mega-woman-supreme.” Darlene was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. Her book series for children follows the heroine Amanda Ross as she travels throughout the world and learns the history and culture of faraway places.

 Darlene, thank you so much for being a guest on “A Better World of Books!” Please tells us a little about the inspiration for your character Amanda Ross.

Amanda Ross is the twelve-year-old I would have liked to be. I had a wonderful rural upbringing but my world was limited and I was bored. My grade three teacher taught us about faraway places which sparked my interest in traveling the world and…

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A great review for Amanda in Holland over at Patricia Tilton’s blog today. Patricia reviews wonderful books and I often get ideas for book gifts from her blog. Check it out.

Also if you liked the cover of my book, Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action (Amanda Travels), please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com! Thanks!

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Children's Books Heal

Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action (7) (Amanda Travels)

Darlene Foster, Author

Central Avenue Publishing, Fiction, Sep. 3, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 9-12

Themes: Adventure, Travel, Holland, Mystery, Friendship

Synopsis:

Amanda Ross is in Holland with her best friend Leah Anderson to visit the sites, while Leah’s father is doing business there. Top of her list is to visit and photograph all of the tulip fields. Amanda and Leah travel the canals of Amsterdam, visit the Anne Frank House, take pictures at Keukenhof Gardens, see windmills, and visit a wooden shoe factory.

Amanda is eager 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. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers…

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Susie Lindau is featuring a Blessed Project on her blog and I’ve decided to join in since Christmas is a perfect time to count your blessings! Here is the link if you would like to join in too. https://susielindau.com/2019/11/26/join-the-blessed-project-i-will-feature-yours/

I have been blessed with an amazing family.

The best parents ever! (Yup, that’s from the 90s)
A son who is a super dad, grandfather, and musician
An amazing talented potter daughter
and great brothers
Awesome grandchildren and great-grandchildren
Grandsons to be proud of
Fabulous granddaughters
A happy son with his kids and grandkids.
Blessed to have five generations in our family
A loving husband who keeps me laughing
And the sweetest dog!

I am blessed to be part of a huge German Canadian family with many loving aunts, uncles, and cousins. Here are a few of them, but not all.

My wonderful aunts and uncle

I have also been blessed with many friends, some I have had since childhood, who support me and make me feel loved every day.

Friends since babies

So you can see that I am indeed blessed and I am grateful every day.

May you have a blessed holiday season and new year with the special people in your life!!

Thanks, Susie for this opportunity to be part of the Blessed Project

During my recent trip to Canada, I stopped in to see my Great Aunt Meta and Great Uncle Lex at their new apartment in an assisted living complex. Aunt Meta is the last of my maternal grandfather´s siblings. They are both doing remarkably well considering they are in their mid-90s. As I was about to leave after an enjoyable visit, I noticed a black and white picture of a large ship hanging on the wall beside the door. I leaned closer for a better look and saw it was a German ship called The Kronprinzessin Cecilie. Uncle Lex said, “You know what ship that is, don’t you?” Then it hit me, it was the ship that brought my great grandparents over to North America in 1911. I was so excited, I had to take a picture of it.

My Grandpa Mehrer had often mentioned this ship. He would have been 4 years old when they made the journey. Years later, he named his fourth child, Cecilia, after the vessel, Kronprinzessin (Crown Princess) Cecilie.

My cousin (Aunt Meta´s daughter) had been in New York and while doing a tour of Ellis Island, looked for the Mehrer records in the research area, where she found information about the ship and the ship´s manifest. She ordered a copy of the picture of the ship and the manifest for her parents. Some very interesting information was included in the manifest. When she learned of my interest, she sent me the link to the website. I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to see the names of my great grandparents, my grandfather and his three siblings listed on the ships manifest. It gave me goosebumps.

Here is some information I found about the Kronprinzessin Cecilie from the website. The ship was built in Germany in 1906 and carried 1,970 passengers (558 in first class, 338 in second class and 1074 in third class). The ship sailed under a German flag from 1906 until 1917 when, during WWI, it was seized by the United States Government. Under the American flag, it was renamed Mount Vernon and was used for the US transport service. It was scrapped at Baltimore in 1940.

Just think how many immigrants were brought to the new world on this vessel in its early days. The Mehrers, a German family originally from Johannathal, Russia, sailed second class from Bremen, Germany in 1911 with four children ages 4 years to 6 weeks. Because they traveled 2nd class they would have had their own cabin and were not processed through Ellis Island. US Immigration would have boarded the ship and processed them there and they would have been free to catch the train for the Dakotas as soon as they disembarked.  (This information from the manifest was given to me by my cousin Jean Saunders)

From North Dakota, they proceeded to Canada to their homestead where they eventually had 8 more children.

Andreas and Katharina Mehrer after settling in Canada and raising 12 children. My grandfather, the oldest, is sitting on the far left.

I recalled that my father’s family also landed in New York before they came up to Canada. I found their ship, The S.S.Scotia, and its manifest with their names on it as well. It is such an amazing site. If your ancestors came to North America through New York harbour, you will most likely find the name of the ship and the ship´s manifest. Keep in mind, the spelling of names was often incorrect so if you know the year they arrived, that will help. https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/passenger

The manifest of the S.S. Scotia listing my father´s family who immigrated in 1891

How exciting it must have been for my grandfather, a four-year-old, traveling on a big ship to a new country. I only wish I had asked him more about it when he was still with us.

I have blogged before about my amazing great grandmothers here and about my Mehrer great grandparents here. I consider myself blessed to have had ancestors with the fortitude and vision to embark on a voyage that changed the course of history for our family.

Sally is having a Christmas Book Fair over at her Cafe and Bookstore and I’m pleased to be featured along with other amazing authors. Check it out, you may get some gift ideas. Everyone should have at least one book in their stocking this year.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

To begin today a wonderful selection of books for children, young adults and those who are young at heart… The featured book is the YA recent release Through the Nethergate…..Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

About the book

Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own. In the town of Bungay, a black dog…

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Today I´m a guest of Colleen Chesebro where we have a great conversation about doing research, the importance of grammar and retirement. Please check it out.

booklaunch

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you one of my favorite award-winning children’s authors, Darlene Foster. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. This is Darlene’s second visit to my blog. We had so much fun last time, she couldn’t wait to stop around again! Darlene Foster…

Source: Conversations with Colleen: Meet Author, Darlene Foster, @supermegawoman

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Pig on Trial

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