Darlene Foster's Blog

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“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

That is how I always feel on New Year’s Day. A new year with no mistakes yet! I am always so excited to make a list of goals, not all of them new, some are brought over from the year before as they didn’t get met. And that’s OK. Some have been on the list for a few years already. Things happen when they are supposed to.

Here is my list for 2023

  1. Read Mom’s five-year diary by reading one page a day. It will be great to learn more about Mom as a teenager.

2. Finish Amanda in Scotland: The Standing Stones, book number ten in the Amanda Travels series.

3. Publish my collection of short stories based on my childhood growing up on the Canadian prairies.

4. Learn how to self-publish

5. Return to Canada and attend a family reunion

6. Create a newsletter.

7. Clean up and sort out my office.

8. Clean up my computer and tablet

9. Read and write more poetry

10. Eat out more often. Since the pandemic, we have gotten out of the habit and I’m getting tired of cooking all the time.

11. Read 48 books. I’m going to try for this reading goal again.

12. Work on reducing my TBR pile on my bookshelves and on my Kindle

13. Maintain my health; reduce my sugar intake

14. Visit Ireland

15. Continue marketing my books and looking for new ways to market

That should keep me busy enough so I don’t get bored.

My words for 2023 are Savour the Moment

Wishing everyone a super 2023: May many of your dreams come true!

2022 is almost over and it’s time to take stock and see how I did with the goals I set at the beginning of the year. To be honest it was not a bad year, certainly better than the two before. I was fairly cautious about setting goals as so many plans had been dashed previously. We are still not comfortable about doing much travelling but are enjoying spending time with our two dogs instead.

I’m a habitual planner, so setting goals and making plans keeps me going.

Not meeting a goal is not a bad thing. It can just be added to the next year’s list. Or maybe it is no longer important and can be struck off permanently! Let’s see how I did with meeting my 2022 goals.

Goals for 2022

  1. Publish Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral

Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral was published by Central Avenue Publishers and released on September 13th. I am happy to report that this book is doing well and I’ve received many positive reviews.

2. Publish a collection of short stories

I am working on this and have polished the collection of stories but have not published it yet.

3. Learn how to self-publish

Haven’t done this yet.

4. Start writing a new book

I have started writing Amanda in Scotland: The Standing Stones (working title). I even returned to The Isle of Arran to do more research this year.

5. Market my books in person and online

I am pleased with my marketing efforts for 2022. Online marketing has gone very smoothly with great results. I’m eternally grateful to the blogging community who have been so very supportive. I also visited bookstores, libraries and schools in three Canadian provinces doing signings and presentations. I sold out of books in one store!

6. Return to Canada and spend time with family and friends in BC and Alberta

This was a highlight of the year. I saw so many family members and friends during my three-week visit to Canada in September, including both of my children and all of my grand and great-grandchildren.

7. Travel to at least one new place

I did this and the new place was Prince Edward Island, a Province on the east coast of Canada. A place I have wanted to visit since I read Anne of Green Gables when I was ten years old. I even had an opportunity to visit the house that inspired the author, Lucy Maude Montgomery, to write the novel.

8. Update my blog

I’ve done some work on this but still have more to do.

9. Buy a new computer

I did buy a new computer and just love it. The speed is incredible!

10. Take an online course

I’ve taken part in a few online courses, mostly via podcasts and Zoom meetings.

11. Read at least 48 books

According to my Goodreads challenge, I have read 46 books this year. But I also read 2 books that were not on Goodreads, and one of the books I read was War and Peace; that should count for 3 books at least! So I’m calling this a win.

12. Keep up to date with technology

This is something I really believe in and don’t want to fall behind. I have updated my new computer to Windows 11 and have had no problems with it at all. I tend to learn new things as needed.

13. Make new friends and stay in touch with old friends

“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet” – Will Rogers. I have turned a few strangers into new friends this year but have spent most of my time keeping in touch with my long-time friends. I was happy to have met a couple of blogging friends in person which is always special.

14. Keep calm and stay positive, no matter what

I did a good job of this in 2022 and it certainly reflected in my health and attitude.

I’m happy with the results and am ready to face 2023 with a new set of goals, along with some carried over.

How did you do this past year? Any surprises?

Happy New Year one and all!!

The launch date for Casey Holland #7, A Gold Satin Murder (a novella) by Debra Purdy Kong is on Thursday, September 8th. I love this series and am pleased to have fellow Canadian author, Debra Purdy Kong, here as a guest to tell us more about her latest book. Check out the other books in the series here

With six published full-length mysteries in the Casey Holland series, why write a novella?

Members of my writer’s group asked me this question when I brought the first few pages for feedback. The answer is that I wanted to stretch my creativity with this series. Although the earlier Casey Holland mysteries do have lighter moments, they are serious stories. I decided to switch the focus to a fun, light story with serious moments. To do this, I needed to create an uncomplicated plot and fewer characters. Since this is still a whodunit, readers can follow Casey along in trying to figure out the killer’s identity.

While working on an early draft of A Gold Satin Murder I’d been writing other novellas (generally 17,500-40,000 words) for a small press. I discovered a love for this length, not only as a writer but as a reader. When life is frantic, it takes me nearly a month to read a 300+ page book. I often forget the roles and relationships of the characters as well as the subplots. So, it seemed logical to write a book that could be read in one or two sittings. From a writer’s standpoint, revision is a quicker process. Where it might take me from two to six months to edit the second draft of a full-length novel, a novella can be edited in a few days.

The idea for this book popped up over six years ago, however, other projects kept me from working on this novella consistently. Given the many challenges facing people these days, it seems timely to release a light, fun story. If I can bring a smile to a reader’s face, then I’ve achieved my goal.

Launch day is September 8, but you can pre-order now:

Amazon: https://mybook.to/AGoldSatinMurder

Kobo Canada: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Kobo U.S. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder

Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6443255297

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-gold-satin-murder-debra-purdy-kong/1141951058?ean=2940166433930

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Debra_Purdy_Kong_A_Gold_Satin_Murder?id=FxF_EAAAQBAJ

Blurb for A Gold Satin Murder:

Transit cop Casey Holland has never met a bus passenger like the charming artist and exotic dancer, Eduardo. The bus driver Lily has certainly befriended him. But when Eduardo’s charged with murder, Lily’s caught in the middle of his legal trouble. Afraid of losing her job and custody of her son, she begs Casey for help in proving Eduardo’s innocence.

Casey’s search for answers takes her and her best friend Kendal to a troupe of strippers known as Man Cave. While the men are busy peeling off their clothes, Casey’s peeling back layers of secrets and betrayal. Nuttier than her usual adventures, the risk is just as deadly in this seventh installment of the Casey Holland transit mysteries.

Debra’s Bio:

Debra Purdy Kong’s volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs inspired her to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Her employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provided the background for 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. She is a facilitator for the Creative Writing Program through Port Moody Recreation and a long-time member of Crime Writers of Canada. She lives in British Columbia, Canada.

Connect with Debra at:

Blog: https://debrapurdykong.wordpress.com/

Newsletter: https://sendfox.com/debrapurdykong

Website: www.debrapurdykong.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraPurdyKong

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraPurdyKongAuthor

Email: dpurdykong@gmail.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.ca/Debra-Purdy-Kong/e/B000APLEFU/

I was a beta reader for this story and just loved it. Here is a sneak peek at the first chapter.

A Gold Satin Murder by Debra Purdy Kong

After a decade of security work for Mainland Public Transport, Casey Holland had learned that troublesome passengers were usually rude, loud, and poorly dressed. But the gorgeous, broad-shouldered man in the charcoal suit, white shirt, and bright red tie strutting down the aisle was a new, intriguing challenge.

The moment the man spotted Casey, he gave her a broad, toothy smile. Cool. Her silky, low-cut tank top and dangling crystal earrings were doing their job. Undercover assignments rarely involved dressing up, but passenger complaints about a hot guy who’d been badgering women to model for his paintings required a different fashion choice. Besides, the bus was way too warm this late-July evening. The less she had to wear the better.

Casey winked at the man, then tilted her head toward the empty seat next to her. He slowed his pace and nodded to the gaping middle-aged woman he passed by. Judging from a quick survey, the man had caught the attention of most passengers. The men didn’t look as impressed as the women, though.

“Hola, señorita.” Gold-flecked brown eyes glanced at her hands as he sat down. “I am Eduardo from Ecuador.”

“Casey. From Vancouver,” she replied. “How are ya?” To reveal she was a señora who’d been happily married for just over a year might put him off, so the wedding rings stayed home.

“Excelente.” He beamed. “I am here only three months, but I am in love with Vancouver. It has many interesting people.”

“That it does.” His cedarwood and vanilla cologne sent a jolt of nostalgia through Casey. When Dad was alive, she occasionally gave him a bottle of something similarly scented for Father’s Day. She sat up straighter and zeroed in on Eduardo. Not the time for reflection.

“I apologize if my English is not so good,” Eduardo said.

“It sounds fine to me.” She smiled. “Do you live in this part of the city?”

“Si. Only one block away. I love to walk and ride the buses and talk to people.”

He’d have many opportunities to do exactly that in Vancouver’s densely populated West End. Thanks to nearby Stanley Park, the popular English Bay beach, and many eateries, the area attracted tons of tourists as well as visitors from other areas of the Lower Mainland.

“Your eyes!” Eduardo slapped his hand over his heart. “La violeta. Extraordinario! I have not seen such a shade before. I am professional artista. May I paint you? It would be great honor! You are so be-eau-tiful.”

“Thank you.” Great honor and beautiful were the exact words two of the complainants had used in their written statements. “So, how many women have you approached about painting their portraits, especially while riding this bus?”

“Qué? Eduardo’s smile faded. “Why do you ask me this?”

“I’m with Mainland Public Transport security.” She showed him her ID card. “We’ve had harassment complaints about you. One woman threatened to involve the police if it happened again.”

His eyes widened. “This cannot be.”

“The complaints said you wouldn’t take no for an answer until they either changed seats or left the bus.”

Eduardo sat back in his seat. “I am stupefied!”

Casey didn’t buy the naïve act. “Harassment of any type on MPT buses is against company policy.”

He fidgeted, not quite meeting her gaze. “I am just a single man who loves ladies and to create art.”

Eduardo produced a business card depicting an elegantly designed maple tree with crimson and tangerine leaves. But anyone could create a card and pass himself off as an artist.

“Is difficult to find models in new city. Art schools are filled up.” He frowned. “And many ladies choose to sit next to me and ask what I do to earn money.”

She believed him. Given the lusty stares a couple of women were tossing his way, Eduardo had probably found more than a few willing models and dates.

“Is it wrong to talk about art, or to ask a be-eau-tiful lady on a date? I might break bus rules, but I am not breaking real laws, no?”

Casey sighed. “Are you and I going to have a problem?”

He raised his hands, palms facing her. “I do not want trouble, but I must pursue my art.”

“Eduardo, the rules are there for a reason. They also give me the authority to kick you off any MPT bus if you’re breaking them.” Casey paused. “If you’re going to discuss portrait painting, then be clear about what you want. If you’re turned down, then I strongly advise you to leave the passenger alone. I assume you expect to be paid for your portraits?”

Eduardo nodded. “I do this not only for money but to find true soulmate.” He lowered his head. “I am not so lucky in love. Is heartbreaking road filled with big potholes.”

“Uh-huh.” She studied him. “Do you think you’ll find love on a bus?”

“I search everywhere.”’

Eduardo’s expression and demeanor seemed sincere, but she had her doubts about this guy.

“You must have tried dating apps,” she said.

“Si.” He grimaced. “They were not good. Is better to meet ladies in person.” He gave her a whimsical look. “Everywhere.”

Meaning he intended to keep chatting up women on MPT buses. Eduardo might be better looking and more polite than other rule breakers, but his resistant attitude was all too familiar. She’d be seeing him again, no doubt, and their second encounter wouldn’t be as cordial.

“Just be careful about what you say,” she cautioned. “Misunderstandings happen easily.”

The corners of Eduardo’s full, sensuous mouth turned down. “What shall I talk about? The boring weather? Is what others do.”

“Eduardo, buddy, unless someone speaks to you first, it might be best if you didn’t talk at all.”

Order your copy of Gold Satin Murder to learn more about the charming Eduardo.

You don’t have to have read the other books to enjoy this one!

I am delighted with this review of Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral over at Bonnie Reads and Writes. Included is an interview where you just might learn something new about me. We also talk about including tough topics in books for young people. Check it out!

Bonnie Reads and Writes

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help Self-Published and Indie authors promote their books. Today I’m reviewing Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral by Darlene Foster. This is an indie book published by Central Avenue Publishing, an independent publisher. Darlene also agreed to do a Q&A, and her delightful answers are below.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Amanda explores the exciting streets of Paris, the fabulous Palace of Versailles and the gardens of the painter Claude Monet, while being drawn into the mystery surrounding the destructive fire at Notre Dame 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 book store, along with her bestie, Leah, and Leah’s eccentric Aunt Jenny. A dream come true for a book…

View original post 1,963 more words

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

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.

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!

Today I am a guest on Karen Sanderson’s blog where I talk about reading children’s books, at any age.

Are Children’s Books Just for Children?

by Darlene Foster

I write children’s books. Actually, I should correct that. I write books suitable for children. But they are books any age can read and enjoy.

            Recently I listened to an interview with Lawrence Hill, author of the award-winning novel, The Book of Negroes.He discussed his latest release, Beatrice and Croc Harry, which he describes as a story for children and adults. He mentioned there should be no separation between children’s and adults’ books. He mentioned that as authors, we should not shy away from including serious and painful issues in children’s stories as they can handle them. He also mentioned, and I agree, many adults enjoy reading from a child’s point of view.  

Read more of the article here

Photo by Andy Kuzma on Pexels.com

I am pleased to be featured on a wonderful blog called Canadian Writers Abroad

In our ongoing tenth anniversary series, Darlene Foster answers three questions. Foster is the author of the Amanda Ross travel adventures series for children. (The cover of Amanda in Holland is perfect for spring.) She hails from Alberta, and divides her time between British Columbia and Orihuela Costa in Spain. Darlene Foster first appeared in Canadian Writers Abroad in 2017, with a guest post from Spain, “Foster’s Dream Life.” -DM

CWA: Where were you ten years ago?

read my answers here

Check out the interesting blog where Debra Martens interviews other Canadian Writers who have made their home abroad.

On April 13th, 2010, my first book, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask, was published by Central Avenue Publishing. An auspicious day for me and a dream come true! That was twelve years ago, and what a fabulous twelve years it has been.

On my visit to the UAE where I fell in love with the desert.

The story is loosely based on a trip I took to the United Arab Emirates to visit a friend. I was so amazed at this part of the world, I felt compelled to write about it. After a few failed attempts, a twelve-year-old girl entered my mind and wanted to tell the story from her point of view. I named her Amanda and, well, the rest is history.

The book has had three different covers over the years.

Cover #1
Cover #2
Cover #3

Although Amanda in Arabia is twelve years old, I am happy to say it is still being read. Recently, I was delighted to read a review by James Cudney.

Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask is the first middle-grade book in Darlene Foster’s Amanda Travels series, and I very much enjoyed reading it. Amanda yearns to travel the world, and first up is the United Arab Emirates, but call it UAE or the Emirates as one of her new local friends wisely cautions her upon arrival. One of Amanda’s birthday wishes, this smart young girl finds herself visiting an aunt and uncle who live in the far-away country. Whether she’s magically or realistically transported is a question you’ll have to find out for yourself!

Readers will learn all about camels, the Persian Gulf, a princess who was almost forced to marry an older man, and many more culturally significant items of relevance. Both an educational and charming tale, the book offers a variety of themes and good old-fashioned fairy tale fun. Amanda makes several more international trips in future books (there are 8 to date in the series) and I’m keen to find out what she’s going to explore. You’ll enjoy her witty intelligence, and I’m sure if the shenanigans in this book are a sense of things to come, it will be a delightful collection of books that will appeal to a wide variety of personalities. Great job! – James J Cudney

James is a prolific reader and a great writer himself. Check out his blog where he writes honest reviews of a variety of books. He especially enjoys books in a series. https://thisismytruthnow.com/category/general-blog/

His own entertaining books can be found on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/James-J-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

A huge thank you to everyone who, over the years, has assisted and encouraged me, bought my books, told others about them and written reviews. You have made these past twelve years an incredible part of my life!

Amanda in Arabia is available on all Amazon sites as well as at other booksellers.


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