Today we said goodbye to our minister. The three churches in the parish came together for a service and potluck to mark the occasion. There were gifts and goodbyes, and a few tears shed. She’d only been with us for a year and many of us were sad to see her go. For the year we had her we came to expect the unexpected, seeing her dressed as a church mouse on one occasion and even a clown. She made us laugh and sometimes cry. She helped us to extend ourselves in kindness and be more than we previously were. While we’ve always been a parish that cared, with her we cared even more.

For Easter I gave her a copy of my book. I’m always amazed at what meaning every reader finds in a book, what themes present themselves to that particular reader. I think it all depends upon where we are in our own lives, and if we’re looking for some deeper meaning or simply to be entertained. I’ve had different reactions to my novel. Some people saw it as an entertaining story, while others were left wondering if it was a true story or one that I had made up. Rightly so, our minister saw certain things in the book as a reflection of my life, my beliefs, and things that can only come from the heart.

As we discussed the book, she mentioned how very important the connection of the three generations of women plays in the book. “Remember that as you go ahead in your writing,” she said later. I explained that when I started writing the book, much of what came to me wasn’t at all planned. She completely understood. Of course she would.

I’m often made aware of themes popping up when I’m writing a story even though I don’t knowingly go about putting them there. It just happens, as if the story is being eased in a certain direction all on it’s own. When I started writing Bitter, Sweet, I had no plans of writing about healing plants when I named one of the children Flora. Nor did I know I would be called to reflect upon a memory I had of my father digging gold thread from the ground.

For the most part I try to ignore these things while I’m writing for fear that it will get in the way of the story, but it’s there, running in the background. I’m not oblivious to it. Later, once the story has been written, I can take the time reflect upon these things.

While some stories seem to come directly from the heart, others are complete figments of our imagination, but I’m inclined to think that every story reflects something in the author’s life– thoughts, feeling, beliefs, opinions, memories. The same can be said for any one who is creative. We put our heart and soul in our work. We make it a reflection of who we are, who we’ve been, who we will become. Even our blogs tell something about us. That something is what draws others to come visit.

Lately, I’ve had many moments of reflection in my life. Reflection is never planned. It just happens. It’s important, not just for writers but for all of us. As I think about the next book I’ll write I can’t help but wonder what parts of myself will be layered between the pages. What I am sure of is this, it won’t be planned, it will just happen.

Do you believe that our creative endeavours reflect who we are? For the writers out there— do themes show up in your writing all on their own?

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?

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. They are whispers of past events, and the imagining of things that could be. Sometimes they are smudged images of the truth, other times they seem to materialize from thin air.

A few years before writing “Bitter, Sweet,” I came across a newspaper article that caught my attention. I clipped it and put it in a folder for later reference. I imagined that one day this article would be the inspiration for a short story I would write but other than a certain event that had taken place I knew nothing else. Every so often I’d come across the article, read the headline, and file it away (always with the thought that something similar was going to happen in a future story.) I wasn’t worried; I had plenty of other things to work on.

Then one day Pru Burbidge whispered in my ear. I thought she had given me the first line for a short story. Turns out it was really the first line of chapter three, only I didn’t know that at the time. As I continued to write I began to see that somewhere further on these four kids were going to get into a whole lot of trouble and I even had the newspaper clipping as proof!!

At the time I wrote “Bitter, Sweet” I was working every day so I’d take along a notebook and pen. At break time I’d jot down what Pru had to say hoping that by the time I got home, and was finally ready to sit down and write, she would still be willing to tell me her story. I’m glad she didn’t bail out on me!! Her voice came so easily; it was as if she was patiently waiting for me to start writing her story.

Where do ideas come from? The ideas for writing fiction are born from tears, fears, joy and laughter. It is a scraping together and melding of the tiny scraps that makes up real life. It is inspired from the past, present and future– not only of our own but others’ as well. It is an assortment of random thoughts that spring from somewhere within us just begging to be heard.

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

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