Guest Blogger–Darlene Foster

For a bit of a change I’ve invited Darlene Foster to do a guest post on my blog, and she graciously accepted my invitation. Darlene and I were both contributors to The Country Roads Anthology (Nimbus Publishing) and became acquainted through facebook. In my opinion, the friendships I have formed with some of the contributors has been one of the greatest things to come out of this anthology. I hope most of them would also agree.

To find out more about Darlene and the Amanda Series you can visit Darlene on her Blog Or her website.

Where does a writer get ideas?

It’s hard to say where the germ of an idea for a book comes from, but I like to think for me, it started way back when I was a kid growing up on a ranch in southern Alberta. I was bored and lonely and would dream of visiting amazing places I read about in books and learned about at school. I would often day-dream I was travelling the world and having amazing adventures. Many years later, when I had the opportunity to visit a friend working in the United Arab Emirates, I jumped at the chance. I had such a good time I felt compelled to share it with the world. I started to write a nonfiction account of my trip but it didn’t quite capture what I felt and experienced. During my visit, I remembered my friend commenting that my excitement reminded her of a twelve-year old. So, I started to write from the point of view of a twelve-year old. Then I decided it needed some adventure and Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask slowly took shape.

A few years later my in-laws retired from England to Spain which gave good reason to visit and explore that country. I found it also quite amazing so decided my young heroine should have an adventure there as well. From that experience, Amanda in Spain-The Girl in The Painting was born. I collected materiel over three visits. Writing the second book gave me a chance to develop the characters and the friendship of Amanda and Leah, while describing the locations and points of interest.

Followers of the Amanda books kept asking, “Where will Amanda go next?” That told me I had to keep going. I had been to visit England a number of times since that’s my husband’s home country, so it made sense that Amanda would go there next. Right now I am having a lot of fun writing Amanda in England-The Missing Novel as I now know my characters quite well. I have introduced some interesting extras including a big old Maine Coon cat named Rupert, who lives in a book store.
Where will Amanda go after England? I haven’t decided yet, but one thing is for certain, Amanda doesn’t get to go anywhere I haven’t been! This may be motivation to visit another cool place on this amazing planet we live on.

So from dreams of travelling all those years ago, to having the opportunity to travel as an adult, some stories have been generated for other kids who may dream of travelling to intriguing places or just want to learn more about them from the vantage point of a twelve-year old.

Where did the idea for your first book come from?

Stormy Weather

No snow for Christmas this year in Nova Scotia, and yet it didn’t make it feel any less like Christmas. My children were all able to make it home because of the good travelling conditions, and we’re having a glorious week so far with Miss Charlotte and Mel.

When I was growing up, no snow for Christmas would have been totally unheard of. I can’t seem to recall a single Christmas when weren’t buried in tons of snow.

But, as you can see, here it is three days later and it’s a totally different story. Oh we’ve got snow all right. No worries about that. The older I become the less fond I am of snow. I’ll agree it’s pretty to look at, and I’ll even admit there’s something appealing about sitting inside the house while a snowstorm is raging outside. There is this feeling of closeness that makes me feel safe and content. It’s a great time to curl up with a book or work on a story. I find storms—snow, rain, and wind— to be rather inspiring. The thought of people travelling out on the snowy, icy roads is the real reason why I don’t like the snow.

As I watch the snow still accumulating outside, I realize how anxious I am to get back to reading and writing in the New Year. I have some books to read by some friends I met online this year. One is a suspense thriller by Joylene Butler (Mum is reading it right now and she’s been raving about it!) another is a MG by Darlene Foster, a fellow contributor to the Country Roads Anthology. I’m sure I’ll be mentioning these books on my blog later in January.

The receipt of a gift certificate for the local bookstore will ensure that I’ll be making a book purchase sometime very soon in the New Year. Any suggestions of what book I should buy?

So while there’s nothing I can do about the winter weather outside, there’s plenty I can do to enjoy these cold, dark days of winter.

Anything exciting on your to be read list for the New Year?

Memory Makers

I love sending out Christmas cards every year. More than sending them out, I love it when they arrive in the mailbox. With anticipation I open them, savouring the little messages the sender has written inside.

Several years back, I began saving the cards, placing them inside the Christmas box when we dismantle the tree, and I’ve been saving them ever since. Off they go for another year to the attic, forgotten until next year rolls around. When it comes time to decorate the tree, I take out the cards and read the little messages inside. Today, I came across a card that an elderly friend had sent me several years back. Sadly, she’s no longer with us, but her little message still warmed my heart and brought the memories of her warmth and kindness back to me.

Today I received a card from Pam Chamberlain, the editor of the Country Roads Anthology. Along with her thanks for my participation in the anthology, there was a little note letting all the contributors know that Nimbus has plans of printing more copies of the anthology when April rolls around. Yay Pam!

Next year when I take my cards out of the Christmas box I’ll come across Pam’s card and the memory of the time spent working on the anthology with her will become another fond memory for me to look back on.

Pam has now started a site of her own, and is preparing to put together another anthology. You can find her here.

Congrats Pam, not only has your hard work been instrumental in your success, but your talent, kindness and determination to keep going. Best of luck with your next project. You can be sure that I’ll be thinking of you each Christmas when I take out my collection of cards.

Welcome, Pam Chamberlain

Today I am welcoming Pam Chamberlain, editor of  Country Roads: Memoirs From Rural Canada to my blog. As I worked on my piece for the antholoy I came to respect  and admire Pam as an editor. Now that the book is out, and we have kept in contact, I am pleased to consider her a friend.

Awhile back I asked Pam if she would like to write a post for my blog, and to my delight she agreed. So, since this post isn’t about me I’ll stop rambling so that you can read what Pam has to say about compiling an anthology.

The Unexpected Rewards of Compiling an Anthology

When I first embarked on the project of compiling an anthology on rural life, I thought the main reward would be a completed book. Although (trust me!) it was wonderful to finally hold the book in my hands, the published book—Country Roads: Memoirs from Rural Canada—is only one of the rewards of such a project, and possibly not even the greatest one.

I originally decided upon an anthology format for this project because I didn’t think I alone was capable of telling “the” story of rural Canada. How could any one person do that? Yet I believed it was important that the story be told. I decided I needed help, so I sent out a call for submissions. In response, I received 150 submissions from people who had grown up in rural communities across the country. What a joy it was to read the submissions and find that there were people across the country who had shared the experiences of my childhood. After the difficult task of selecting which ones would make it into the book, I was left with about thirty texts. I began contacting the writers to ask for their permission to include their story in the anthology and, in most cases, to request revisions.

I didn’t anticipate what a rewarding experience it would be to work with authors on their text. Working together on a text is an intimate act. The editor must move carefully, respecting the author and the writing; otherwise, the writer might dig in and refuse to revise or to be part of the project. The editor must also work to build the writer’s trust. For only if the writer trusts the editor will he or she be willing to make the changes. Working together on revisions is like a dance—it requires a shared goal, mutual trust and respect, and give and take. I’m sure some of the contributors were initially disappointed by my requests for revisions; however, it is interesting that those writers with whom I worked on the most substantial revisions are the ones whom I developed the strongest relationships with.    

Through this project, I have gained not only a published book, but relationships with writers across the country, most of whom I had never heard of before this project began, and most of whom I have never seen in person. Despite the fact we’ve never met, I feel we have developed a community. I know that if I find myself in Nova Scotia, there is a cup of tea waiting for me in East Dalhousie, and one in Halifax, and one in Bridgewater, and one in Upper Stewiacke—from four women whom I’ve never met. Yet we have shared the intimate experience of working together on their writing. Long after the book is out of print, I will remember the people who so generously contributed to this book.

I don’t call Country Roads “my” book. I call it “our” book, and so do many of the contributors, many of whom were as excited as I was to see the book in print. Some of them are working at least as hard as I am to promote it. The final product is an accomplishment we can all be proud of. It is ours.

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  • Publication date April 30, 2020. Available for pre-order NOW.

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