Season 3 Episode 9: Darlene Foster on Writing Amanda

Welcome to Tea Toast & Trivia

Thank you for listening in!

Never let a day go by without a dream” Darlene Foster

I am your host Rebecca Budd, and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you. I am delighted and thrilled that my blogger friend and writer, Darlene Foster and I are bridging approximately 8,784 kilometers, as the crow flies, between Costa Blanca, Spain and Vancouver, Canada. A distance that would be 11 hours and 25 minutes by air has taken seconds via technology.

Darlene’s short stories have won prizes and have appeared in several anthologies. She has seven published books in a series about a spunky 12-year-old girl who loves to travel, Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain-The Girl in the Painting, Amanda in England-the Missing Novel, Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone, Amanda on the Danube-The Sounds of Music, Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind and Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action. Readers from seven to seventy plus enjoy following Amanda and her adventures as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene’s bilingual book, Pig on Trial/Cerito a juicio isin English and Spanish.

Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. A world traveller herself, Darlene spends her time in Vancouver, Canada, and the Costa Blanca, in Spain

So, it will not come as a surprise that today’s discussion is all about storytelling. So put the kettle on and add to this exciting conversation on Tea Toast & Trivia.

Welcome Darlene and thank you for joining the podcast conversation. I have been looking forward to this conversation.

Darlene Foster

Thank you for joining Darlene and me on Tea Toast & Trivia.

And a special thank you, Darlene, for sharing your insights and philosophy of writing.  You have inspired me, and I know that you have inspired readers and listeners to embrace a creative journey.

I invite you to meet up with Darlene on her blog Darlene Foster’s Blog, which she created for writers, readers, travelers, dreamers, friends and friends she has not met yet.  It is a place where stories dwell.

Until next time, dear friends, stay safe and be well.

Darlene’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter/

Darlene on twitter https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

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52 Replies to “Season 3 Episode 9: Darlene Foster on Writing Amanda”

    1. Thank you, Darlene, for introducing me to Amanda. Looking forward to following Amanda across the world and enjoying the feeling of being a 12-year-old. This is the age when reading become a strong influence. What a great feeling to read about Amanda and all the possibilities for exploration and discovery!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Thanks, dear Rebecca, for this talk with Amanda.
    I absolutely agree that authors need people who criticise them. Usually, these are their agents and editors and often the representative of the distribution department as well. Writing a book is easy but getting it sold and sell secondary and foreign rights that are the challenges for a professional author.
    I have to disagree with Amanda, most of the professional authors I know are extraverts. You have to be because you sell your books by taking part in talk shows, giving interviews all the time and deliver talks and going to book signings. An introvert has no chance as an author. As an author, you are a talking head 😉
    Thanks, dear Rebecca and Amanda
    Klausbernd 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for listening in and joining the conversation. I agree wholeheartedly that writers must navigate some difficult pathways to publish their books. That is why I have been very interested in the Indie community of writers, now that technology has given us tools to publish whether in book format or within the blogging structure. There is a democratizing element in writing these days, which mirrors the age when pamphlets were being circulated. This is a great discussion, Klausbernd because it also relates to photography, video production etc. I LOVE our conversations Klausbernd. You open new avenues of thought exploration for me. Sending much love and many hugs to my dear friends, the Fab Four of Cley.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Dear Rebeca,
        the problem with Indie is if you are lucky you get 10.000 to 20.000 books of one title sold. But from such small sales no author can live, at least not a middle-class lifestyle. That means you need other sources of income or even better is to be rich 😉
        It’s not my experience that the big publishing houses are undemocratic. They are usually less ideologically fixed than small publishers. They usually have better quality controls. The first step is you have to be accepted by an agent, the second step is the editor has to see potentials in your manuscript and that you as the author can work with him together to make your text into a really good book. Last not least your editor has to justify your book to the publishing conference. These steps make sure that a certain quality of the text is maintained. The editor and quite often the agent as well teach the beginner to write professionally.
        Anyway, I was taught to write professionally by my first editor who stayed with me for my first ten books even when I changed publishers. Later I had other editors and in the end I worked with a private editor. I always learned a lot from my editors.
        Therefore I would recommend to everyone who would like to be an author to find an agent with connections to the big publishing houses.
        With lots of love and big hugs
        Klausbernd 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Thank you for adding depth and breath, Klausbernd!!!How does a book attract a reader? That is the question that comes to mind as I look into a industry that is in transition, especially in journalism and in the publishing field. Marketing is also being disrupted by technology and the rise of AI. I think it comes down to a story that speaks to the soul. A literary agent would be able to identify those stories. The list of self-publishing writers includes: Margaret Atwood, Frank Baum, William Blake, Ken Blanchard, Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, T.S. Eliot and Charles Dickens. I wonder whether the agents found these authors through their self-published books. Check out this link: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/famous-self-publishing-authors/. Sending much love and many hugs to our dear friends, the Fab Four of Cley.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Dear Rebecca,
        most of the self-publishing authors were already famous or so clever that they got noticed by the sales of their books. By the way, it costs authors quite some money to do the sponsoring of their books. I always made sure that in my contracts with the publishing house we decided on the sum that’s spent on PR.
        Concerning self-publishing, you have to look at the special situation of time and country. F.e. in smaller countries you have a bigger chance to be successful in self-publishing. But most of the authors who are successful self-publishers were known before as contributors to papers and magazines, radio programmes etc.
        I see it like Steven King who like other professional authors tried self-publishing, you can`t make enough money in self-publishing because you can’t reach high sales.
        I was part of a yearly panel of the Frankfurt Bookfair (by far the biggest in the world) about changes in the publishing business. These changes were much smaller than feared at the beginning of digitalisation. EBooks are the big sellers in the international books business but producing them was no problem, to produce books for different readers was a challenge in the beginning. But if you look at sales worldwide it’s still the old fashioned printed book that sells best. And even more amazing, statics show as more people use the net as more books they buy.
        The big change in the book business is its concentration. There are very few publishing houses that matter. In Europe, most of the publishing houses are imprints of Random House, in the US as well.
        Well, that’s my little introduction to publishing. A lot of the want-to-be authors oversee that it is business like any other business in our society. You have to be 51% businessman to be able to be 49% a good author 😉 😉
        With love ❤ ❤ and hugs 🤗 🤗
        Klausbernd 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      4. You have given me invaluable information, Klausbernd – and much to think about in the coming weeks. A huge Thankyou!!! As you know, I am very interested in how we connect within a world of books, writing, specifically now that our technology is transforming every aspect of our lives. This morning I was over at the V&A channel and watched this short video. I am forever grateful that we have the availability of books because someone introduced printing. I think you will enjoy this – the detail and time spent, a labour of love.: https://youtu.be/k4j_McrUmqM. Your thought on 49% author and 51% business, resonates. Sending hugs and love back your way to my dear friends The Fab Four of Cley!

        Liked by 2 people

      5. The business aspect of writing is why I made the decision very early on to support my writing with a day job. It allows me the artistic freedom that I need. As it turns out, the majority of my time on the job is spent writing.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. What a delightful podcast, Rebecca! It’s always a joy to listen to you interview writers about their craft. Darlene’s enthusiasm for storytelling, encouraged by a teacher at an early age, is something many of us can identify with. Those wonderful teachers! Her stories are a way for tweens to learn about the world and themselves through adventure. I’m excited to follow her blog and learn more about Amanda’s travels, as well as the many other things Darlene wants to share. Thank you for time well spent this morning…slowing down…sipping my brew…and another creative person to learn from!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Mary Jo – those wonderful teachers. I remember my second grade teacher teaching us how to say her very difficult last name. She told us to imagine that we were singing a song. I never forgot that message. I have just downloaded Amanda in Alberta and will be adding more Amanda books to my TBR stack of books for 2021. Isn’t it fun to go back in time and remember what it was like to be a 12-year-old. Darlene’s voice was magic, wasn’t it? I felt Amanda was in the room with us. Thank you for listening in and slowing down. Right now, I’m sipping my brew and enjoying our moments together.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Your conversation has started me trying to remember the way I thought when 12 years old. I really look forward to Darlene reading to us. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Thanks, Mary Jo. It is so nice to meet you as well. My father always said that we learn something from everyone we meet. I have always found that to be true.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. This is an amazing dialogue. The whole conversation between the two of you was educational and inspiring. I might add here that I find the photo of Darlene very pretty and inspiring–she looks very alive and fun-loving. I found it important that she mentioned a teacher in her early years that she credits with the encouragement she needed to start writing. I like young Amanda and I am sure that the young readers that get acquainted with her will remember her with love all of their lives. I smiled when she mentioned that her husband travels with her and Amanda. I could mention much more, but will add that I look forward to hearing her read from her books. Thank you, Rebecca and Darlene, for your amazing direction as this story unfolds, amazing! ! !

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you, Frances, for listening in! I have just started my first Amanda story and I am going back to 12, which is a wonderful feeling. Darlene’s enthusiasm for life, for travel and for connecting is compelling. She understands how important it is to bring books to an age group that marks at important milestone in their reading journey. Amanda offers a zest for life, adventures and friendships. I knew you would enjoy this conversation!

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Hugs on the wing coming back your way, Teagan! I am enjoying meeting up with Amanda – she takes me all over the world and reminds me of what it was like to be a 12-year-old again. I especially appreciated Darlene’s honesty – that writing was hard work, but well worth the effort. Her encouragement for aspiring writers to continue to write was heartwarming.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. I confess to be utterly charmed by Darlene and her work. Great chat. I found it really interesting to hear how her first Amanda book came to be – more or less in a blaze of inspiration: inspired by the excitement of her trip, realising the voice in her head living the unborn book was not an adult but a 12 year old girl and then naming the heroine after one of her granddaughters.
    Of course not the actual writing you understand. As Darlene says the actual writing involves a lot of gritted teeth and sheer hard work- pushing yourself through when the inner saboteur asks: Why are you bothering?)
    As the old saying goes creation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Three years sounds about right for a first novel when you are learning your craft – to me that is certainly the sign of someone who knows what they are doing, with the humility to know they have bitten off more they can chew and the determination to make a success of it- come hell or high water.
    I have always believed any act of creation involve a form of magic. Darlene amply proved it does.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much for listening in, Paul and for your comments, which includes that famous saying “1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I remember my father saying to me, “when you start a journey you must remember that many times the path will becomes unclear, even dangerous. But that is what makes life meaningful.” Or as J.R.R. Tolkien said: ““It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” I agree that any act of creations involves a form of magic. Many thanks for adding to the conversation.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Amazing how an elementary teacher saw the potential in Darlene, encouraging her to continue telling stories and WRITING THEM DOWN, the formula for her success.

    I enjoyed tea, toast, and trivia, Clanmother. Darlene, we are glad you have never grown up – ha!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am delighted that you listened in, Marian. I agree that Darlene’s encouragement of the writing process is heartening. I am glad that I met up with Amanda and Darlene. Reading in 2021 promises to be a great adventure, now that we are tagging along with Amanda.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Thanks, Marian. I will be forever grateful for that wonderful insightful teacher. And don´t worry, no chance of me growing up!!

      Liked by 3 people

  6. It is lovely to see Darlene here, Rebecca. Her passion for children and for her writing is obvious from her words. I have read a few of the Amanda books and enjoyed them a great deal. Michael also read some of them when he was younger. Darlene’s story about bowing really made me laugh. My mom would have also thought I was a bit nutty if I did something like that, which I easily could have. She still thinks I’m very odd with the books I like to read.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Our mothers may think we are a bit odd but they love us just the way we are! You and I have been fortunate to have mothers who encouraged us to be ourselves, which has helped us be good mothers too. Thanks for your great comments as always.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I not only enjoy Darlene’s/Amanda’s stories but I plan to use them as travel guides. Lol. I love the way Darlene says she can just flip into the mind of a twelve-year-old as well as how she discovered the character Amanda. I also enjoyed her advice to balance her writing life, to read broadly, and to persist. And what a great question about Amanda aging as well as Darlene’s decision to keep her at twelve. Great interview. Wonderful to hear Darlene’s voice and learn more about her as a writer! Thanks, Rebecca.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am delighted that you listened in Diana. I have two Amanda books in my library and I have a feeling I will be adding more as the adventures continue. Darlene’s voice has Amanda’s enthusiasm, doesn’t it? Thank you for your comments – very much appreciated. I am reminded of this quote – “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thanks so much, Diana. I love that readers use my books as travel guides. One adult reader said she was off to Spain and planned to follow in Amanda´s footsteps.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I enjoyed hearing Darlene’s voice and learning more about the gensis of the Amanda books. I didn’t realize until I listened to the podcast that Darlene originally tried the first book from the point of view of an adult. As I was listening to her talk about the twelve-year-old’s perspective, I tried to think if I’ve ever written from that point of view. I’ve written one story from the point of view of a twelve-year-old, and it was kinda depressing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I once judged a writing competition for 8 to 12-year-olds and some of their stories were very depressing. It made me sad actually. Many stories were about death and some about suicide. Children don´t often talk about their concerns but are able to write them down in fiction. Childhood is not always a happy place.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re right about that. The year I taught eighth grade English, I assigned what I thought was a happy specific details exercise: describe a family Christmas tradition. I felt terrible when I received the essay from one boy describing Christmas dinner as eating oysters, followed by the grownups getting drunk and fighting. Saddest of all was how matter-of-fact it was.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks for hosting Darlene, Rebecca….love the podcast!! I applaud Darlene’s writing talent and can’t wait to introduce my granddaughter to her series (she’s pushing 5, so have to wait a bit)!! Again, thanks for hosting Darlene!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted that you listened in, Kirt. My 90-year-old mother asked me to purchase the Amanda books for her great-grandchildren. But she confessed that she would read them first. I’m looking forward to having Darlene return for a reading of Amanda. It is so much fun going back to be 12 again!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Rebecca, a treat of a podcast and produced to yours and Don’s usual impeccable standard! It was a joy to listen to you both, your laughter contagious – the sense of fun between you is fantastic and I could close rapport!

    Darlene, you are indeed an inspiration in storytelling! Your love for the craft shines through and I smiled at how Amanda joins you and your husband on your travels! A wonderful interview with Rebecca and it’s great to put a voice to the picture. Can’t wait to listen to you reading extracts at some stage.

    Wishing you both a fabulous rest of the week! 😀❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Annika – how wonderful to receive your comments this morning. You always give a lift to my day. I am delighted that you joined the conversation. From stone tablets, to papyrus to the printing press, to digitalization, to audible, writing continues to evolve in ways that surprise, delight and even shock. Storytelling has become interactive with apps and gaming. But what remains ever present, the foundation that gives structure: the voice of the author. When authors reads their books, there is an immediate connection. Listeners do not want to hear a perfect voice – they want authenticity. Darlene’s voice IS Amanda’s voice. I recognized that fact, the moment I heard Darlene’s voice on our Zoom meeting. I started TTT to capture the voice of my mother, Frances, to hear her speak of her childhood during the depression. Frances listened to Darlene’s podcast and had me purchase the Amanda books to give to her great grandchildren. But, she wants to read them first LOL! Why? Because she heard Darlene’s voice. Sending my love and hugs along with my gratitude to you for being a writer and storytelling.

      Liked by 1 person

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