Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘writing

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.

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?

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.

Nancy shares an amusing story written by a fellow writer here in our part of Spain. This is sure to bring some chuckles and a few giggles. Enjoy.

US Author Nancy Klein in Spain

Editors Note: I am in a writers group with John here on Costa Blanca. Before each meeting, we get different prompts in case we don’t know what to write about. This week the prompt was: “My hands shook with anticipation.” What John wrote in response to the prompt was so funny that I laughed until I cried. That’s why I wanted to share it with my readers. This piece of writing should really brighten your day. Enjoy!

Young people kissing

By John Dodd

April 1961, and there I was, in the little store room under the school hall
stage, with Rosie Trawler. An acne-ridden teenager, I knew so little
about girls. Yes, my Dad had told me that when a man and a woman
love each other very much, they lie down together and make a baby.
Fat lot of help that was. Everything that we spotty boys knew…

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I am pleased to introduce, Mark Durman, as a guest author today. Mark lives here on the Costa Blanca and we met at a local book fair. He writes exciting Thriller, Suspense, Crime and Mystery stories.

Tell us about yourself and your books and what inspired you to start writing?

My first career was as a British Army officer. During those years I served on combat operations in the Cameroons, the Congo, Borneo and Yemen. During the “cold war” period I  spent several years in Germany, in NATO headquarters in Brussels and in The Netherlands. After leaving the army, I was a director of Brinks, the US-owned international security company. These diverse experiences gave me much of the inspiration and motivation to write. My books draw heavily on these personal experiences.

Do you have a writing routine?

I have no particular writing routine. Sometimes my writing is confined to mundane business correspondence and letter writing to personal friends and relatives. When I get an idea for a book, I tend to spend a period on research, getting fully immersed in the subject and then writing the book in one concentrated period. There then follows the lengthy (and rather tedious!) period of proofreading, correcting and dealing with the production process with my publisher.

What sort of books do you read? Can you list a few of your favourites?

To relax, I enjoy reading fiction by such authors as Robert Harris, John Grisham and Lee Child but my main interest has always been on world affairs, politics and economics.

What writing project are you currently working on?

Much of my present reading and research is about philosophy, religions of the world and atheism. This is an enormous subject from which I’m focussing on elements for my next, fifth, book which I’m currently writing. This has the working title of “I think, hope and want to believe, yet still I don’t know.” There is such a mass of literature on this subject, that I find I’m constantly pausing the draft while I research further relevant texts. This is the most complex yet enthralling work I have so far undertaken!

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

Danièle and I are both keen walkers. Here in Spain we have belonged to a local international walking group for several years and meet with them once a week. We are blessed by having wonderful local areas to explore such as the Sierra Creviente and Carroscoy features. The excellent Spanish climate enables us to walk throughout the whole year. We are also fortunate to own an apartment in Paris where we spend about two months per year. There, we enjoy the theatres, cinemas and other cultural and social venues not available in this part of Spain. Later this year, subject to COVID restrictions, we plan to visit our two sons who both live and work in Asia; one in Bangkok, the other in Bali.

Mark’s latest book:

Adsum: Mission and Passion

Peter Chambers is eighteen when he is summoned to serve two years’ compulsory military service in 1959. He deliberates whether to defer or serve his country. After some tough infantry training, he is commissioned as a young officer and sent to join the Nigerian Army far away from England where he grew up. Peter is thrown in at the deep end and becomes immersed in combat operations in the Cameroons and the Congo where he must lead his platoon in many dangerous situations. He is also embroiled in politically sensitive and deeply personal issues including murder, mutiny, war crimes and passionate love. Adsum is based on the true story of a young man facing the harsh lessons of life.

A recent 5-star review of Adsum: Mission and Passion

Adsum means “I am present” in Latin. This book by author Mark Durman is based on his experience as a conscripted soldier in the British army from 1959 to 1961. He could have avoided the two years of military service by attending university, but he chose to serve his country instead. This interesting book gives you a sense of what it is like to be in an army training camp. You also get an inside look into countries in conflict in Africa and get to learn about his missions there. In some cases, people were killed, both friends and foes. The author himself killed several people in his tour of duty. What happened in the Congo when Durman was there as part of a UN peace-keeping force was particularly disturbing, although I thought he sounded heroic after reading about his description of the events that took place at a Catholic Mission hospital in the Congo.

I liked the author’s descriptive and sometimes humorous writing style. He was not afraid to use the F word when called for and that made reading about his experiences in the military more interesting. Although he seems to have been a capable and honourable military leader, it must have been quite frustrating for him to be frequently buffeted by political forces beyond his control, especially during his tours in the Cameroons and the Congo. For example, here is a typical quote from the author towards the end of the book, “Looks like I’m being dragged into some political quagmire just for doing my fucking duty.” Such is the life of many a soldier.

Reviewed by Nancy Blodgett Klein, author of Torn Between Worlds: An immigrant’s journey to find herself

Other books by Mark Durman

Mark’s books can be found on all Amazon sites.

Please check out this amazing post about adulting, as well as an interview with me, a sort of adult. You can also listen to this article as a podcast! https://anchor.fm/depe9/episodes/Adulting–Why-Darlene-Foster-Writes-For-Children-e175nif

Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

What was the day you became an adult?

Young Adult (aka YA) is a major category when it comes to selling fiction, especially because people of all ages enjoy reading it. If I could swing it, I’d aim for that, rather than the harder sell of literary fiction, which the genre of the novels I’m working on.

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing a couple of young people leave home to start college. In one case, friends were driving their son to begin university classes in San Jose, 400 miles north of Los Angeles. My husband and I flew to meet up with the parents and then the four of us enjoyed a leisurely drive back south.

Khashayar takes our photo as José and Alina look over his right shoulder. Our southbound cruise along Pacific Coast Highway included Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Granted, it was a weekday, but it was still eerily quiet for peak summer season. Note the aerial ride is vacant, aside from a mannequin. Us, Dangerous Minds, Sudden Impact, Harold and Maude, and The Lost Boys, are some of the movies filmed there. Khashayar takes our photo as José and Alina look over his right shoulder. Our southbound cruise along Pacific Coast Highway included Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Granted, it was a weekday…

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