Darlene Foster's Blog

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My guest today is Debra Purdy Kong, a fellow Vancouver author who writes entertaining mysteries. She talks about where she gets her ideas and gives some great advice to anyone thinking of writing.

Debra Purdy Kong’s volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs inspired her to write mysteries set in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for her two Evan Dunstan mystery novellas, as well as 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. In November 2017, she released her 5th Casey Holland mystery thriller, KNOCK KNOCK, and her 2nd Evan Dunstan humorous mystery novella, A TOXIC CRAFT.

How long have you been seriously writing? I’ve been writing for over thirty-five years and published my first short story back in 1982, for which I was paid $95. I hadn’t been writing long, and thought “well, this isn’t so hard”. Another three years passed before I published a single story and that was for free. It was quite a while before I was paid for my stories again. After that first piece was published, though, I’ve written nearly every day of my life.

Where do you get your ideas? While working on short fiction during the first decade of my career, ideas came from real-life experiences. For example, one day I was at a wading pool in the park and saw a baby nearly drown. Another time, I overheard a woman dissing her grandkids for being weird. Later, ideas for mysteries such as A Toxic Craft were inspired by my work experiences in security. I usually worked on Sundays which were really quiet. Patrolling empty buildings turned out to be a great experience, as it allowed my imagination to run wild.

What is your writing process? My writing process has changed a lot over the years, depending on circumstances. These days, I have a part-time day job Monday-to-Friday, so I’ll write for about an hour before work, again during my break, and again in the late afternoon before dinner. By early evening, I’ll switch to social networking or writing-related tasks because I’m too tired for major editing. I seem to concentrate best for up to forty-five minutes at a time. After that time, the focus fades away.

How long does it take you to write a book? The first draft of a book takes several months to complete. It’s tougher to determine how long it takes before the book is ready for publication because I never work on one book at a time. After a first draft is written, I’ll put it away for a few weeks or even months before starting the second draft revisions. Right now, I have three novels and two novellas in various stages of editing. On a daily basis, I work on two books at a time. One novel in the morning, the other in the afternoon. I don’t publish a book every year, although, in late 2017, two of my books were released which was unusual.

Who are some of your favourite authors and why? One of my favourite authors is the late great Sue Grafton who recently passed away. I so admired her writing style and her commitment to one series. I also admire her principles. Having worked originally as a screenplay editor, she refused to ever let anyone turn her books into movies.
I also admire the late British author John Mortimer of the Rumpole series. I loved the characters and Mortimer’s sense of humour. The same is true of the late Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which is still one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.
Some of my other favourites are Tony Hillerman, Maya Angelou, Alice Munro, Deborah Harkness, Diana Gabaldon, and Ray Bradbury. There are so many more, but the list would go on forever!

What advice would you give an aspiring author? I have five pieces of advice for an aspiring author. One is to read as much as you can in every genre. Read the best books that you can find as they’ll teach you a lot about voice and style. It’s hugely inspiring to read a beautifully crafted paragraph. You can learn so much from a well-crafted book.
If you’re afraid to start or are stuck on a page and can’t seem to move forward, jumpstart things by writing in a journal. The very act of writing, regardless of topic, will put you in touch with your creative side. If you can’t think of anything to write, try a writing prompt. There are plenty of sites that offer writing prompts.
Once you’ve started, or even if you need inspiration to write, join a good writers’ group. There is nothing like learning from those who are working through stories, novels, and memoirs. Great discussions can ensue and just as importantly, you’ll learn that mistakes, self-doubt, and rejection are a natural part of the process.
If there are no writers’ groups in your area or ones that appeal to you, take a writing course or a workshop. There are good ones online, but many cities offer courses through local community and recreation programs, and of course, libraries are a valuable resource for courses and information.
My final piece of advice is this. Writing is not a quick trip to fame and fortune. The truth is that it simply doesn’t happen for most authors. Writing success (and success is how you define it, not anyone else) is a long journey without shortcuts. Many writers are goal oriented, which is fine—I have plenty of them—but if you aren’t enjoying the journey along the way toward achieving those goals, then do something else. Life is too short to resent what you’re doing because fame and fortune haven’t shown up. Be realistic about your expectations. The best part about a writing career for me is the writing itself. That hasn’t changed in all these years.

Tell us about what you are working on now. I’m currently working on the sixth installment in my Casey Holland mystery series. This book has been in the works for six or seven years, but other projects needed to be completed first. I’m working on draft #5 right now, and I hope to have it ready for publication next year.

The other novel I’m working on my first urban fantasy that focuses on Wicca, witches, and healing. At the moment, I’m struggling through draft #2, which is slow-going as it requires a lot of work. I’m over 200 pages into the second draft, which is over the halfway point. This is a whole new genre with new possibilities and connections creeping into the story every day. At this point, I’m not even sure what other types of changes this revision will bring, but I’m looking forward to seeing what emerges over the coming months.

Thank you so much for being my guest today, Debra. I look forward to more books coming from you as it seems you have an endless supply of ideas! 

Links to the 5th Casey Holland mystery, KNOCK KNOCK:
Apple (itunes): http://tinyurl.com/y96xscpv
Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/y6wejnls
Amazon: myBook.to/KnockKnock

The latest attack in a string of violent Vancouver home invasions kills senior Elsie Englehart. Security officer Casey Holland is devastated. She is supposed to be watching over elderly bus riders in an affluent, high-risk area, but she’s let Elsie down. Determined to keep others safe, Casey escorts an elderly man home, but an armed intruder attacks them both. Hospitalized and angry, Casey struggles to regain control of her life, despite interference from family and colleagues—and the postponement of her long-awaited wedding. Yet another home invasion compels Casey to take action, but at what cost to her health and her relationships? In Knock Knock, Debra Purdy Kong’s fifth installment of the Casey Holland series, the risks have never been higher and the consequences more deadly.

Links to the 2nd Evan Dunstan novella, A TOXIC CRAFT:
Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/ycsvuaj5
Amazon: http://getbook.at/AToxicCraft

My review of A Toxic Craft

A fun read set at a craft fair. Evan Dunstan, a security guard, has his hands full. His feisty grandmother is in charge of the craft fair and things aren’t going well. His best bud, Scully, is head over heels in love and his coworker is not being very helpful. Who is sabotaging the fair and why did one vendor pass out in the washroom? Full of interesting characters and lots of action, this book will keep you on your toes. Wait till you hear what some of these seniors get up to. Can Evan find the culprit before it’s too late? Darlene Foster

More information about Debra and her books at www.debrapurdykong.com

Debra’s blog  https://debrapurdykong.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraPurdyKong 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/debra.purdykong

Today I am featuring Maureen Moss, author of More To Life. Maureen has written an entertaining travel adventure for adults, a grown up version of Amanda’s travels in a way. Here is more about Maureen and her wonderful book.

More To Life, by Maureen Moss

Divorce. Career kaput. A house move. Three of life’s scariest situations all hit Rachael as she’s entering her forties. This is definitely not the future she signed up for. What’s a girl to do? Run away, of course. Flinging off convention, she plans a wild, exciting and challenging adventure, heading to the East in the hope of finding some meaning in her life. To leave her three teenage children behind is unthinkable. However, any decisions regarding their place in the picture are not hers alone to make: her ex has a few words to say about her plans. Could he scupper her dream? Come along for the ride with Rachael and her family as they stumble through weird encounters, meeting quirky, and often downright peculiar, characters on their travels. More to Life is a light-hearted look at family relationships when tested in unfamiliar environments.

Thanks for joining us, Maureen. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Guernsey, Channel Islands. After graduating with honours in French from Reading University, I set up Personnel Appointments, a recruitment agency, married and had three children. I later went on to teach modern languages at local schools. After getting divorced, I sold the family home and embarked on a family adventure that reinforced my wanderlust, and after a few years I was lucky enough to get a job as an adventure travel tour leader, a job that took me all over the world.

I now live in Spain, from where I host my website www.tourguidecourse.com, offering a course leading to a qualification for other would-be tour leaders.

More to Life is my first novel. It’s available from www.amazon.com, www.amazon.ca, www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.es, also from the publisher Acclaimed Books’ website. I also contribute to Independent Traveller Mag Facebook page

What made you decide to be a writer?
As I’m a lousy photographer I wanted to record my travels for my own enjoyment in the future. Then I got hooked on the writing process, joined a writers’ group and started ‘having a go’ at fiction.

How many books have you written?
Two: one with a friend who did the design, and More to Life. The collaborative one was a collection of my travel writing about the life of a tour guide. The Tour Guide Life It could be Yours
I’ve also written many travel articles, some of which have won prizes.

Where do you get your ideas?
From real life and my imagination

Are your characters based on real people?
Very often, yes. Occasionally just invented

Who are your favourite authors?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Barbara Kingsolver, Jodi Picoult, Donna Tartt, Margaret Attwood, Tim Winton. And I can’t let this opportunity go by without mentioning one of my favourite books: Keri Hulme’s The Bone People

If you could be a character in any book you have read.. Who would it be and why?
I’d love to act the part of Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, especially when Anthony dies:
CLEOPATRA Noblest of men, woo’t die?

Hast thou no care of me? shall I abide

In this dull world, which in thy absence is

No better than a sty? O, see, my women,

The crown o’ the earth doth melt. My lord! 75

O, wither’d is the garland of the war,

The soldier’s pole is fall’n: young boys and girls

Are level now with men; the odds is gone,

And there is nothing left remarkable

Beneath the visiting moon.

What are you reading right now?
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Are you currently working on another book? Can you tell us about it?
Yes, I’m working on the sequel to More to Life! The second book starts with Rachael and Sophie travelling around Australia. I don’t yet know where the story goes from there…apart from the physical locations.

Do you consider yourself a panster or a plotter?

I’m what is apparently called a ‘planster’: a little of both, and I didn’t know what I was until you asked!

What do you enjoy the most about writing and what don’t you like about writing?
I love crafting language to recreate locations and situations. I like creating characters. I quite like planning but enjoy deviating from plans at will. I don’t like rewriting, and when I deviate from the plan that’s what I end up having to do!

What advice would you give anyone who wants to write a book?
Stick with it; don’t lose confidence; join a supportive group; have plenty of wine and chocolate to hand!

Fun questions
Do you prefer cats or dogs?
Dogs, definitely: mine are my pals
Tea or coffee?
Rooibos and Honeybush tea
Sweet or savoury?
Savoury: I’ve never liked sugar, even as a child. Put a bowl of salted peanuts in front of me, however…….

Follow Maureen on social media



Tour Guide Course



My review of More to Life

This was a great read! I thoroughly enjoyed following Rachel, along with her two young adult children, as she travels the world. The vivid descriptions of the places they visit are cleverly woven between the actions and emotions of a family travelling together. Throughout the trip, Rachel is plagued with self-doubt. She questions herself every step of the way. Is she a good mother? Is she doing the right thing? This is a story, not just about travelling, but of self-discovery as well as family bonding. Other interesting characters are thrown into the mix and things get even more exciting with many laugh-out-loud moments. Can Rachel forgive herself for leaving her youngest child back home with her ex-husband and putting her son and daughter in potential danger? I was sorry to see the story end and would love to see a sequel.

Thanks so much Maureen for being a guest on my blog. I am so happy to hear there is a sequel in the works. I can’t wait!! Being Cleopatra would be fascinating, except for the snake part at the end. 

I am a special guest on Sally´s Cafe and Bookstore today. Pop over and ask me some questions!! See if you can stump me. Happy weekend everyone.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Sally's Cafe and Bookstore

Welcome to the Book Reading at the cafe and today my guest is children’s author Darlene Foster whose books about Amanda have literally taken us around the world. Before we take a look at her books here is a little bit about Darlene.

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose…

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Today I am a guest on Sue Vincent’s blog where I talk about the value of critique groups.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

book-1014197__480Never underestimate the importance of a good critique group.  Without one, a writer may simply flounder in a sea of words and ideas. A critique group can make the difference between a mediocre story and an excellent piece of writing worthy of publication. Without the support of groups I’ve belonged to over the years, I would not have six books and several short stories published.

If you are wondering if you should join a critique group, here are ten things about critique groups you should know.

  1. Not all critique groups are created equal. You may have to try out a few to find one that works for you. The members need not write in the same genre as you, in fact it helps if there is a variety of writing being critiqued.
  2. Park your ego at the door. Although it is nice to hear what the members like about your…

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Today, July 1, is Canada Day, celebrating 149 years since Canada became a country. It is fitting that I welcome Suzanne de Montigny , a Canadian writer, as a guest on my blog.


Suzanne de Montigny wrote her first unicorn story at the age of twelve.  Several years later, she discovered it in an old box in the basement, thus reigniting her love affair with unicorns. Suzanne taught music in Vancouver for many years where she learned she could spin a good tale that kept kids and teachers begging for more. She took up writing in earnest nine years ago and has never looked back.  She lives in Burnaby, B.C. with the loves of her life – her husband, two boys, and Buddy the dog.

Tell us about yourself and your books.

Well, I’ve just had a new book released entitled A Town Bewitched. Here’s the blurb:

It’s tough for Kira, growing up in the small town of Hope as a child prodigy in classical violin, especially when her dad just died. And to make matters worse, Kate McDonough, the red-haired fiddler appears out of nowhere and bewitches the town with her mysterious Celtic music. Even Uncle Jack succumbs to her charms, forgetting his promise to look after Kira’s family. But when someone begins vandalizing the town leaving dead and gutted birds as a calling card, Kira knows without a doubt who’s behind it.


I also have a series called Shadow of the Unicorn. In the first one, The Legacy, a herd of unicorns barely survive the coming of an asteroid only to be exploited when the humans arrive. It takes place 12,000 years ago. In the second one, The Deception; sixty years later, the unicorns live hidden in the woods, controlled by a corrupt Great Stallion who invents a false god to control them and how they find the truth of their legacy. And I’m just finishing off the third of the series. It’s called The Revenge and it’s about a gifted unicorn who is born with something really wrong with him. Because he’s bullied, he turns his gift on the herd and no one can stop him.


When did you decide to become a writer? why?

I never had the intention of becoming a writer. It’s just something that happened to me along the way. I loved writing as a child and wrote my first novella at 12. Then, after my father died, when I was in my forties, I developed a need to write and never looked back.

What inspires your stories?

A Town Bewitched came from our experience attending a fiddling camp when my oldest son was nine. When we came back, we were absolutely on fire for fiddling. And I thought, “Suppose what happened to us happened to an entire town, except there was something really wrong with the fiddler.” I laughed it off at first thinking it was a really dumb idea, but it wouldn’t let me go. Finally, I had to write it. Glad I did because it won first prize in the Dante Rossetti competition for Best Coming of Age Novel.

Shadow of the Unicorn came from the novella I wrote when I was twelve. I intended it as an exercise just to learn how to write. Never did I dream it would actually be published and do as well as it has.

Why did you decide to write for children?

I was an elementary music teacher for twenty years. My favourite grades were grades 5 – 7, so it was only natural I’d write for that age group.

What did you read as a child?

I really loved anything by Lucy Maude Montgomery. And I loved books about dogs and horses.

Another Lucy Maude Montgomery fan!

What have you read lately that impressed you? Why?

Harry Potter. It was just so good I couldn’t stop reading it. I’d be reading it while cooking, while talking to my son’s doctor during an appointment, in bed, everywhere.

If you could have dinner with any author, who would you choose and what would you ask him or her?

JK Rowling, of course. I’m not sure what I’d ask her. I think I would just enjoying chatting with her.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

Definitely a pantser. It causes me no end of trouble because my characters take over and start doing all sorts of things I never wanted them to and I can’t stop them.

Great to meet another panster!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and how do you deal with it?

Never. I have a bazillion ideas. I just wish I could write faster.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished the third of the unicorn series, Shadow of the Unicorn: The Revenge and am about to start a historical romance about a young woman who immigrates to Canada to marry a French-Canadian after WWI.

Sounds great. I love stories about WWI. You are a very diverse writer.

Any advice to other authors?

Write what you feel.

Sound advice! Thanks so much Suzanne for being a guest on my blog. We look forward to more exciting books from you.

You can find Suzanne’s books here



Chapters Indigo

Barnes & Noble


Happy Canada Day! Celebrate by buying a book written by a Canadian author.canadaday3

Today I am a guest on Writer´s Treasure Chest where I talk about how I deal with writer´s block and other writerly things. Thanks for commenting and supporting those who support me. I have the best followers!!

Writer's Treasure Chest



Please introduce yourself.


Hi! I’m Darlene Foster, a writer of children’s books, travel articles and short stories. I grew up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Canada where I dreamt of travelling the world and becoming a published writer. I call the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca of Spain my home these days. Dreams do come true!

 When did you start writing? 

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Putting words down on paper has always been a pleasure for me. I had a story published in a local newspaper when I was twelve. It was called Stretch Your Food Dollar. The crazy thing is that it is about an amusing experience two young girls have in a department store. Little did I know, all these years later, I would publish books about two girls having adventures and…

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First of all, I want to thank everyone for your support yesterday in helping me tie for First Prize in the Long and Short Review contest.  The voting time was short so don’t worry if you got to the post too late. This prize will give me some free marketing for the next month. All my followers Rock!

Book of the Month Seal

If that wasn’t wonderful enough, today I am the featured author on Suzanne’s Thoughts For The Day This is what she had to say:

How Could A Girl Get Herself in so Much Trouble?

I met Darlene Foster at a marketing seminar a few months back and was very interested to hear about her books. Darlene’s character, Amanda, has made her a bestseller! 
Read the rest here and make a comment:


Suzanne is giving away an e-copy of one of my books to a lucky commenter.

Life is good for this children’s writer!

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Pig on Trial

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