The Family Way Book Trailer

In my last post, I mentioned that I’d be sharing the book trailer my oldest daughter made for THE FAMILY WAY. We had a blast working on it together, long distance. It was challenging but fun. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.

An Interview With Darlene Foster

Today, it is my extreme pleasure to welcome Darlene Foster to my blog. Darlene has graciously agreed to answer some of my questions about her newest book, fresh off the press. For those of you who are not familiar with Darlene or her work, here’s a bit about her.

Darlene Foster grew up on a farm/ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories. She is the author of the exciting Amanda Travels series featuring spunky Amanda Ross, a twelve-year-old girl who loves to travel. All ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in unique destinations. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, Darlene enjoys spending time with her family and friends in Canada and at her house in Spain with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

  1. Could you tell us a bit about your newest book?

You Can Take The Girl From The Prairie is a collection of short stories based on some of my memories as a child growing up on the Canadian prairies. This is what the blurb says: A collection of short stories inspired by growing up on a prairie farm in the fifties and sixties. Some of the stories are humorous and others sad, but all heartfelt. Stories about family life, cowboy wisdom, immigrant grandmothers, an inspiring teacher, and the arrival of a new sibling are part of this collection of tales from another time and another place. Proof that you can take the girl from the prairie but you can’t take the prairie from the girl.

2. As the author of the very successful Amanda Series for middle grade readers, what inspired you to make the leap to writing this collection of stories?

Well before I started writing the Amanda Travels series, I wrote short stories. I had my first short story published in a local newspaper when I was twelve years old. The first story in this collection, The Day Dief Came to Town, was published in 2009 in an anthology called Country Roads. You also have a story in it and I believe that is how we connected initially!

While working on my novels, I often need a break so will work on a short story or two. Some of these stories have been entered in competitions and published in collections or magazines over the years. I decided I wanted all of these stories in one book. So in answer to your question, there wasn’t really a leap, more of an overlap.

3. Do you have a favourite story in the collection? If so, which one is it and why?

If I need to pick,  I guess the story about the arrival of my second brother is a favourite. It’s such a great memory and if you read the story after, you will understand why it is extra special.

4. As time goes by our memories tend to become a little blurry. Did you find it easy to step back into your childhood memories to write these stories? Did you uncover any memories you hadn’t thought of in a very long time?

You are so right, the memories do get a bit blurry over time. I am lucky to be part of a family of storytellers and picture-takers, so there are many things recorded. As the older generation passes on, I have been given some of their photographs. So now I have a great collection. They help to keep the memories intact and to revive memories I may have forgotten. I mention in the introduction that my memories may not be the same as those of another person. We all recall things differently. That’s what makes life interesting.

It was fun to go back and recall things I hadn’t thought of for some time. My biggest regret is that I didn’t ask the older members of my family more questions when I was growing up. There would have been so much material there!

5. What surprised you most about writing this book?

That the sad stories still, after all these years, bring me to tears. Fortunately, there are many happy memories to offset the tears and make me smile.

6. Short stories or middle grade novels—which would you rather write?

Both and at the same time. Like an actor who refuses to take on the same roles all the time, I don’t want to be typecast. I think it is good for an author to write in a variety of genres, styles, and types of stories. It keeps the creative juices going. And just in case anyone wonders, short stories are not easier to write than full-length novels, in fact, I find them more challenging.

7. Could you tell us where your book can be purchased? Feel free to add any links you’d like included.

I self-published this little book and for now, it is available on all Amazon sites. I will try to have it available on other sites as well soon.

8. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us to know about your story collection?

Things have changed over the years, so these stories may give younger folks an idea of what it was like to grow up on the prairies in the fifties and sixties. I imagine farm life is much different now. For others it may be a trip down memory lane. And for those raised in the city, this may be eye-opening and hopefully entertaining. How many people do you know who had an antelope for a pet?

Thanks so much for having me as a guest on your blog Laura! You were one of my first blog buddies, and it’s been fun to watch each other progress in our writing careers. 

It has been my pleasure, Darlene. I wish you every success with your book!

You can find out more about Darlene and her other books by visiting her blog at:

A Little Inspiration for the Soul

Life is amazing

And then it’s awful.

And then it’s amazing again.

And in between the amazing and awful its ordinary and mundane and routine.

Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary.

That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life.

And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.~~ LR Knost

I found this today and wanted to share. I hope you find it as inspirational as what I did. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Not a Starving Artist

Just follow your art.

Some might say that is good advice.

Others might say it’s unrealistic–“I took a year off work to (insert your creative passion here) and I darn near starved to death.

While I personally don’t make enough money writing to pay all my bills and, truth be told, most times I’d probably even go hungry were it not for other income, I refuse to call myself a “starving artist.”

Some people have an overinflated idea of how much money a published author makes or should make. Sometimes these are the very people hoping to one day become a published author. They may have dreams of signing book contracts with a million dollar advance. (Don’t we all?) It’s certainly something I’ve joked about on social media over the years.

But then that first book is finally published and what a glorious day that is. Months later, you received your first royalty cheque from the publisher and no doubt it is nowhere near what you had dreamed of. But with any luck it surpasses your expectations because perhaps you weren’t expecting to make it rich. Perhaps your sole purpose in writing was to express your art and share it with others who hopefully (although not always) enjoy it.

Reality eventually settles in for all of us who choose to pursue our art and these same people who had such high expectations for the book they spent years writing begin to realize that things aren’t as rosy for the published authors as they might have imagined.


What if instead of declaring that you’ll never write again, you learn to accept the realty of what the publishing industry means for many writers. What if you kept on writing the stories that are begging to be written by you–yes, YOU.

Creating something that is uniquely you is really quite the something when you think of it and once it’s created, no one can take that away from you.

For many of us who write, what we receive in royalties is certainly not enough to live on. It is why a large percentage of us have “regular” jobs. While I can’t speak for other writers and the reason they might write, for me, it’s never been about making hoards of money or wanting to be noticed when I go out (far from it!.) It’s about artistic expression and sharing my thoughts and stories with others. It’s the feeling of accomplishment I get when I’m finally holding that published book in my hands. Each story represents a small part of me in one way or another.

I’m not sure how some people might use excuses to NOT to pursue their art

bills need to be paid

what if people don’t like what I’ve created?

For someone who is serious about their acts of creation, using the lack of money is just an excuse.

Get a job to pay the bills if you have to (that’s what I did) BUT by all means follow your creative endeavors when you are able. Don’t use the “all or nothing” excuse.

There aren’t any rules to this.

Who ever said you have to make a bundle of money doing something you love doing?

As for people not liking what you’ve created? So what.. I dare you to find a book or any other art for that matter that everyone on the planet absolutely loves. It’s just not going to happen. There are always bound to be people out there who won’t like what you’ve created for any number of reasons.

Just allow them to like what they like or not like. Say, “so what” and carry on with what you’re doing.

You only have to look at some of the reviews on Goodreads for books you absolutely loved and you’ll get a sense that we are not all alike when it comes to our tastes in books and that goes for any other form of art.

At the end of the day, you’re the one who has to feel satisfied with what you’ve created. Hopefully, you won’t use any excuses not to be the super-duper artist you were meant to be.

So, no need to call yourself a starving artist because you don’t need to be.

Just create without expectation of how much you need to earn and how fast you need to create.

Let the world know who you are and allow the Universe to look after the details.

The First Day

Why, the first day of spring that is. Sun is shining here in Nova Scotia and the temperature this morning is rising quickly. But there have been signs of spring here before the official arrival of spring. Crocuses are blooming, we have taken notice of crows pairing up, the sighting of robins and maple trees with sap kettles hanging from them. I have yet to see any pussy willows but I’m willing to bet there are out there. An elderly aunt of mine informed us earlier today when you see your first robin, you’re supposed to make a wish. It’s the first time I’d heard that!

Spring brings hope, hope for warmer temperatures and sunnier times ahead. But March can also be fickle, teasing us into thinking that spring weather is here to stay and then suddenly, it’s back to wind and snow and cold. But the cold and snow never last long and that is the wonderful part of it all.

I have been working on a manuscript this winter, that is getting closer to completion with each passing day. It is a good thing, as I have some other projects that are vying for my attention and it is been a bit tempting by times to ditched the one I’m presently working on just to write a few paragraphs. However, I know better than to give into temptation. A few paragraphs can lead into a few pages and then a few chapters. But I am determined not to give in to temptation. Those other projects will have to simmer along as I continue to practise patience in this matter. I can still allow the story to flow through my mind, as I consider my characters and the possible twists and turns in the plotline. That’s it for today!

Happy first day of spring to the readers out there. What signs means “spring is here” to you?

Daylight Saving Time

Yes, it’s “Saving” and not “Savings” time and it is sometimes mistakenly written. Google tells me that it was first introduced in Canada in 1918 to increase production for the First World War and each year there seems to be a dialogue around whether or not we should keep it or get rid of it. Personally, I have a feeling they’ll be debating this very thing for many more years to come and I get a little tired of hearing it be discussed. We keep hearing how the “spring ahead” has many health repercussions and yet that doesn’t seem to be a good enough reason to get rid of it.

I’ve got to be honest. I was happy with the slow increase of our daylight hours and it seemed a gentle reminder that spring was on the way. It felt good. What doesn’t feel good is this sudden ripping away of an hour to my morning routine. Not just morning, as I had trouble falling asleep last night as well. Today, I’m feeling like a nap would be welcomed at any time. My problem being, I don’t have time for one and it would no doubt throw me off once again. Sometimes you just can’t seem to win. I can remember as a school kid, being totally wiped out for a few days every spring and it was a miserable feeling.

Seriously, I could care less if we’re on Daylight or Standard time. Just pick one and leave there. The argument is Daylight Saving gives us more daylight hours in the evening, assuming, I guess, that people want to work until, what, ten o’clock in the evening, instead of getting an early start to the day? Sorry for being a teeny bit sarcastic here.

I’ll try to get myself back on a schedule that will work as well as the one I was on before that might “spring ahead” disrupted the balance I’d settled into.

So, is this whole “spring ahead” thing inconvenient and brutal? Heck yes. Necessary? Hmmmm. What do you all think?

Do you mind the time change each spring or do you just jump seamlessly into the change?

The Great Horned Owl

I’ve been walking for over three months–through cold and wind, rain and snow without missing a day. The one day when the temperature dipped down into bitter frigid temperatures, I headed upstairs to my treadmill. Adding movement into my day is just one of the things I’ve decided was important to me because for sometime now I’ve told myself it wasn’t. I was wrong.

The wonderful thing about walking is that it allows us the solitude and peace that many of us crave but are struggle to find on a regular basis. Nature is always ready for us whenever we choose to join her. Walking an hour a day has been challenging during this time, but I no longer make excuses for not doing it, but rather look for ways to fit it into my day and make it a priority. So far, I have remained successful!

Winter here in Nova Scotia has taken a long time to find us and there were times when many of us thought it might not show up at all. The lake remained open well into the last week in January, even then there was not much ice to speak of and many days the ground was bare. But now the snow is finally here and I have chosen to embrace it as I trudge through the many trails on our property. It’s been quite lovely and these months have gone by quickly as I look for signs of wildlife, sing a little, write a little (in my head) and think.

And then one day, this great horned owl was watching me from it’s perch on the branch of a spruce tree. For a time it sat quietly looking down at me and I was able to snap a few photos with my phone but eventually it decided it was time to go.

While this was a rare sighting for me, I have also been pleased to come across chickadees, woodpecker and nuthatches in my daily jaunts.

Now that we are into the first week of March, hopefully spring weather is not far away. But whatever comes up, we’ll accept it because really that’s all we can do.

Here’s hoping you have a happy March.

The Lost Art of Letter-writing

The other day, I received a hand-written letter in the mail and what a treasure it was, quite literally. I found it in a hidden compartment (how mysterious) in a home made card sent by a friend.

I found the letter later as I was going through all the treasures inside the card. As you can see in the photos there were a number of positive noted enclosed that I absolutely loved. Each one serves as a small gift of it’s own.

I thought about how long it had been since I had written to someone, other than a quick note sprawled in a Christmas card (but I hardly think that counts.) I couldn’t remember when last I sent sent one. As a child I wrote to a pen pal in the US for many years. We started writing when we were eleven, stayed in contact for many years, but lost contact years after we were both married with families. I suppose we were both busy raising children and working. Then one day, I took a chance and sent a letter to her old address and low and behold, she received it! These days we are Facebook friends and message occasionally. Not bad for a 50 year time span.

The talented friend who sent me this card has been doing this faithfully during the pandemic and beyond and it’s always a highlight to my day when one arrives. Most do not contain letters, but there are always positive messages and there have been times when a certain message came at exactly the right time. I am so grateful to this friend for her thoughtfulness.

In my latest book, This is it, Lark Harnish, Lark sends letters home to her family and receives some as well. Of course, back in 1919, when this book is sent, it was really the only way to stay in contact with someone from afar–no phones, no Internet. How did they do it? The interesting thing about the word “afar”, when used back then, for it does have the same meaning now. Today, we would not think that Lark had moved very far from home to work for the McMaster family, but back then, it was. Many places in rural Nova Scotia were quite isolated.

Back then, the world was a much bigger place and we live in a world that is quickly shrinking. I do miss receiving letters in the mail. There is something precious about holding that envelope in your hands and realizing the time involved in it’s arrival. Emails are nice, and certainly quick, but I think we’ve lost something along the way and that makes me a little sad.

Do you still send hand-written letter? I’d love to hear about it if you do.

World Read Aloud Day

Being on break from social media, I wasn’t aware that today is World Read Aloud Day. But then, a message came to me from The Author Fairy (a.k.a Sue Slade) that the awesome folks at The Dartmouth Book Exchange had chosen, This is it, Lark Harnish to celebrate for World Read Aloud Day and I was sent the link of the lovely Amy McIsaac reading from my book!

If you’re interested in hearing Amy read a snippet from the book, I’ve included the link HERE.

The first World Read Aloud Day was back in 2010 and “celebrates the power of reading aloud to create community, amplify stories, and advocate for literacy as a foundational human right.” Since its beginning, it has grown into a global movement of over 170 countries. How awesome is that?

I hope you were able to celebrate World Read Aloud Day, and if this is the first time you’re hearing of it, you might want to check out the link I provided above.

Happy World Read Aloud Day!

Facebook Hiatus

I’m soon heading into the first month of my Facebook hiatus and decided to let you all know how it’s been going. I am still on messenger, as I mentioned I would be, since I do want to stay in touch with family members and friends. (I’m not becoming a hermit. Please don’t worry!) And of course, I welcome any messages at this time, especially if there’s something you feel I just need to know!

So, how has the month been, you might ask?

Truthfully, it felt a bit strange in the beginning but the longer I’m away, I find I think about it less and less.

An added bonus is that I’m not being bombarded with Facebook ads filling my newsfeed and I’m not seeing the negativity that is out there. For the time being, I’m kind of in my own little world and I find it quite pleasant.

I do miss some of the silliness and I do know there are some awesome posts I’m not seeing. But for the moment, that is kind of balancing out for me. I’m looking for more peace in my life and it seems to be working!

I thought I’d spend hours writing during this time, but I’m surprised by how little time I’m presently putting into my creative work. However, that is not a bad thing. Honest.

Ideally, I’d like to write every day, but I’ve changed my routine to include some other activities that I feel are equally important to me, and it’s leaving me less time in my day for writing. I do expect that to change going forward as I’m often struck by a strong urge to create, that could strike at any time. Inspiration is like that for me and while I did set a daily writing goal last summer and stuck with it until I’d completed the first draft to a novel, I haven’t yet revisited said novel. I want to give myself a good long break from that first draft until I’m ready to tackle revisions. Coming back to a story with fresh eyes often lends itself to some pleasant surprises along the way? Did I really write that? Yes, sometimes we writers surprise even ourselves.

So, with one month into my self-imposed hiatus, I’m in no hurry to return. I have no idea when that will change as I continue to follow the ebb and flow of life. I’m busy learning how to settle into the changes that have come my way over the past few years. It hasn’t always been easy but I’m getting there slowly.

In my last post I wrote about a writer evolving over the course of time, in much the same way that we change and evolve on a personal level.

I think of these days, for me, as a personal evolution and I expect there will be others periods of evolution along the way.

So, the break has been good but I’ll be back at some point. Hopefully, I will be welcomed back into the Facebook community with open arms, but for now, I’m enjoying this hiatus.

Have you ever taken an extended break from social media? I’d like to hear how the experience was for you?

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Follow Laura Best on
  • Laura Best

  • Blog Stats

    • 100,749 hits