Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Travels

Today I am the guest of Sally Cronin´s where I talk about where I get my inspiration for my characters and share an excerpt from the latest book.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Sunday Interview series, exclusive to the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore.. details of how you can participate and join the other authors in the cafe can be found at the end of the interview.

My guest this week is regular guest to the blog, author Darlene Foster who has recently released another book in her successful Amanda Travel Series.Later in the post she shares an excerpt from Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action

Welcome back Darlene and congratulations on the latest book.. and to start perhaps you could tell us where you drew the inspiration for the character of Amanda?

I draw inspiration for my characters from the young people in my life and somewhat from the child inside me. Amanda simply evolved as I wrote and in some ways is the twelve-year-old I would have liked to be. I created her almost twenty years…

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So pleased to be a guest on Amy Reade’s blog, Reade and Write where I give some advice to aspiring writers and talk about my upcoming release. Check it out!

Reade and Write

Today on Reade and Write I’m thrilled to welcome Darlene Foster, who’s here to talk about her newest novel, Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action, Book 7 in the Amanda Travels series (it’s available for pre-order now–it will be released on September 3rd). You will love the covers of these delightful books, and I love the idea behind the series because I enjoy reading stories set in places all over the world. Darlene’s books are a bit different from ones I normally spotlight on this blog because they’re written with a younger audience in mind, but so many adults love the books, too. And I think you’ll enjoy the interview as much as I did.

Congratulations on your next release! Tell us all about it. 

In Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action, Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah, travelling the…

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Book Festivals are so much fun. You always learn something new, meet great people and get inspired. But it is not always possible to get to one. So how about a virtual Book Festival? Anne Stormont has created a wonderful Book Fest and invited me to be a guest speaker. All readers, writers and everyone else, come and join the fun.

Put it in Writing

Hello and welcome to event number eleven in the Virtual Book Festival. Today’s guest is author of children’s books, Darlene Foster, and she’s here to talk to us about her writing and to tell us about  the wonderful novels she writes for eight to twelve year olds.

Welcome Darlene, it’s lovely to have you here today. Let’s start with you telling us why and how  you became a writer.

No one is born a writer. But you can be born a storyteller. I come from a long line of storytellers and have been telling stories out loud or in my head for as long as I can remember. We were encouraged to tell stories as I was growing up on the farm, as we didn’t have a television until I was almost a teenager. My grade three teacher encouraged me to write my stories down and when I was twelve…

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We are almost there. Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action has been edited and edited and edited some more. How could I miss so many commas and how did all those ‘ly’ words sneak in? And what is with the word just? I just use it too often. However, I am very happy with this book and am pleased to announce it is available on NetGalley for a free e-version for those of you who would like to read an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) and possibly write a review. You can access the e-book here.

Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah. She travels the canals of Amsterdam, visits Anne Frank House, checks out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and takes 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. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald. Follow Amanda around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, intrepid traveller Amanda encounters danger and intrigue as she tries to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.

Here is a short excerpt

They disembarked at the next stop in front of a shop with large wheels of cheese piled high outside the door. Once inside, the sour milk scent of cheese greeted them.

A cheerful girl in a pointy white hat with wings on each side handed out samples.

“Yum, this cheese is so good.” Amanda smacked her lips. “Let’s buy some for a snack later.”

Mr. Anderson took out his wallet. “Good idea. We’ll take a wedge of Gouda and one of that one we just sampled.” He pointed to the cheeses.

“You mean the Edam?” asked the sales clerk. “These are good choices.”

While Leah’s father paid for the purchase, the girls went outside. Amanda heard a whimpering sound. “Did you hear that?” she asked Leah.

“Did I hear what?”

“A sound like a baby or a baby animal. I think it came from over there.” Amanda pointed at a large garbage can across the road. “There it is again!” She stepped off the curb.

“Amanda, watch for bikes!” Leah shouted.

One whizzed past, barely missing Amanda. She didn’t even notice. She headed for a cardboard box sitting beside the smelly garbage. Bending over, she opened it. Curled up in the bottom, a brown and white puppy, with the biggest chocolate brown eyes she had ever seen, stared up at her.

The puppy whimpered and put his head between his front paws.

Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action will be released on September 1, 2019 and is available for pre-order.

An example of the gorgeous flowers Amanda sees while in Holland.

World Book Day was March 7th this year which also happens to be my birthday. When I was asked to visit an International School close to my home in Spain on March 7th, I was delighted. There is nothing I would rather do on my birthday than spend it with Grade 4, 5 and 6 students talking about my books and writing in general.

To celebrate World Book Day the students created book spines of favourite books to display on a wall. I was pleased to see Amanda in Spain amongst titles by Roald Dahl, J K Rowling and other great authors.

I spent the entire school day presenting to three grades of about forty students each. The children were very attentive, enjoyed the PowerPoint presentation, listening to the readings and eagerly joined in the brainstorming activity. I always love the Q and A session because you never know what you will get. Every group is different. One young person asked me “How long does it take to perfect a story?” Wow! Usually, they ask how long it takes to write a book but don’t even think about perfecting it. That prompted a discussion on revision. Another clever student asked me if I knew more about my main character than was in the book. From kids aged 10 to 12, these were astute questions.


Because they knew it was my birthday, I was given a lovely gift of chocolates and hand-made cards. I felt very special.

My birthday cake was made and decorated by Cakes ‘n’ Bakes, the local Coffee Shop I held a book signing at last year. Isn’t it just perfect!!


Since I was busy on my birthday, we decided to have an open house party on Sunday, March 10th, a sunny afternoon. About twenty friends, family and neighbours dropped by. Everyone had a great time and I was so happy to be surrounded by people I love.


Nice to see family

and writer friends

“It wouldn’t be a party without you” party plates

Some of the cake is gone but we are still having fun.


I was delighted with all the beautiful flowers I was gifted. You can never have too many flowers. 

So now I am another year older and look forward to the coming year! Life is good when you have friends, flowers, chocolate, sunshine and a dog!

Dot had a good time too, but was exhausted after the party.

I am delighted to be featured on Aurora Alexander’s blog once again.

Writer's Treasure Chest

It is a very special pleasure for me to welcome you back on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’. In your former visits we learned about your writing, your writing process and asked for some advice. But there are so many more questions to ask!

Let’s see what you can tell us today:

1. Would you please describe your writer’s spot?

If you mean where I do my writing, it is usually in my office in my home in Spain. It’s the spare bedroom which we have turned into my office with a desk, computer and comfy office chair. I’m surrounded by books, magazines, a dictionary, thesaurus and other writer’s aids. Pictures of my family grace the walls. It is not a neat and tidy place but it works for me. I also hand write in the car (while hubby is driving, of course) on airplanes and sitting on my sunny terrace.

2…

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I follow the blog of pre-school teacher Jennie Fitkzee at A Teacher’s Reflections. Jennie is an amazing teacher who truly loves her job and shares her 30-year teaching experiences with her readers. In some of her posts, she talks about the importance of reading out loud and of reading chapter books to children who cannot yet read. Here is some of what she has to say.

Jennie and her students with a favourite chapter book

The Importance of Reading Chapter Books by Jennie

In order to read, and more importantly to want to read, it all starts with parents and family reading aloud to children, every day. The statistics on reading aloud and its link to academic success in all areas is profound. If reading is a pleasurable experience, then school work is by far easier. Every child begins school wanting to learn to read. In other words, we’ve got 100 percent of enthusiastic kindergarteners when they start school. The National Report Card found that among fourth-graders, only 54 percent read for pleasure. Among eighth graders, only 30 percent read for pleasure. By twelfth grade, only 19 percent read anything for pleasure daily. Yikes! What happened? The better question might be, what did not happen?

The seeds of not only learning to read but loving to read were not planted early. Reading aloud to children for 30 minutes every day, starting at birth and continuing after they have learned to read, is the single best thing a parent can do to build a reader. I know this. When I read aloud in my classroom, it’s the time that children are totally absorbed. Totally. A good story, read aloud, is the best learning and pleasure experience I give to children. It opens the door to questions and discovery.

People often ask why I chapter read.  After all, many of the children in my classroom are three-years-old.  When we chapter read, the children don’t have an image from a picture book.  They have to make the pictures in their head.  That requires language development.  The more they hear, the more they learn.  Even the youngest children benefit enormously.  For example, they may not ‘get’ the humor of the goose repeating everything three times in Charlotte’s Web, but they are still getting a huge dose of language.  And, that language is sparking their imagination.  No pictures; just words pouring into eager, young minds and creating their own images.

Jennie discussing a chapter book with a student

Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day at school.  Books bring to life the imagination, the world, and the past.  The anticipation of ‘what happens next’ stirs excitement every day.  Children listen and talk.  They ask questions.  When I ask children, “At chapter reading where do you make the pictures?” they answer “In your head.”

Reading aloud is the best thing I do with, and for, children.  They are preschoolers.  Yes, I chapter read to four-year-olds.  It is marvelous.  After three decades of teaching, I know this is “it”.  Learning can happen unexpectedly, and reading aloud is often the catalyst.  Children don’t need to sit and listen to a book in silence.  Asking questions is a good thing!

Reading aloud is the gift of language, and language is the most important element in a child’s development and success in school.  Wow!  The number of words a child knows can be directly attributed to his or her success in school; not just in English, but in Math and Science as well.  Perhaps these are the most important words a parent can hear.  Reading aloud is a strong part of my classroom curriculum, and children love it!  The more you read aloud at home increases your child’s development!  The biggest bonus is bonding together.  Nothing beats snuggling with Mom or Dad, one-on-one, reading a book.  Life is good!

Jennie

I have often been asked why I don’t have my Amanda Travels books illustrated. This is why. I want my readers to create their own images. I also hesitate to categorize my books for 8 to 12-year-olds as many pre-schoolers enjoy my books being read to them by adults or older siblings. One grandmother read my books to her three-year-old granddaughter, who loved them and drew pictures of Ali Baba the camel from Amanda in Arabia. This young woman is now 12 and still enjoys reading, including the Amanda Travels series.

Follow Jennie’s blog with more meaningful reflections of an experienced teacher https://jenniefitzkee.com/


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