Monday, 31 August 2015

What sparks a child’s dreams?

Guest post by Darlene Foster dreamer of dreams, teller of tales.

When I was little, my dear grandmother gave me a colouring book filled with pictures of children from around the world dressed in traditional garments. I loved that book and while colouring each page, dreamt of visiting those fascinating places. Growing up on a farm in the Canadian prairies, we didn’t venture far. 



My grade three teacher, Miss Roll, taught us about exotic places, like Mexico. She gave us Mexican names, brought sombreros and serapes into the classroom, played Mexican music and served Chilli Con Carne. This further kindled my dreams of travel, especially to Mexico. Miss Roll also noticed my vivid imagination and encouraged me to write my stories down.

As is often the case, life happened. I got married, had children, worked full time, volunteered, took correspondence courses, attended the occasional workshop and dabbled in writing. I filled many notebooks with short stories and ramblings over the years. The thought of being published was a distant and, what often seemed to me, impossible dream. It didn’t look like I was going to see much of the world either.

Those ideas that were sparked all those years ago still flickered. I boarded an airplane for the first time when my second husband took me to England to visit his family. You can imagine my delight when I finally found myself in a country I had been reading and dreaming about for years. We travelled back to England a number of times as well as to many other interesting destinations, including Mexico. With every trip, I became as excited as the little child who held that international children’s colouring book in her hands.

When a friend took a job in the United Arab Emirates and invited me for a visit, I jumped at the chance. This amazing experience where I discovered a totally different culture, unique scenery and so much history, inspired me. I had many stories to tell when I returned home. Although I attempted to write these experiences down, they just didn’t portray the excitement and feelings I had while there.



Then one sleepless night, I started to write the story from the eyes of a twelve-year-old. I based it on my experiences and a perfume flask I purchased while there, added some colourful characters and tossed in an adventure. It was fun to spin my story in a way that kids would enjoy while learning about another country. My hope was that it would entice them to explore new worlds someday.  Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask was born and eventually my dream of being published came true. My main character, Amanda, has since gone on to explore other places such as Spain, England and her own province of Alberta.



Still pinching myself to make sure I am actually a published author, I am so glad I followed my dream of travel, which led to a writing career. I will forever be grateful to my grandmother, my grade three teacher and so many others for sparking the flame, and for all the people in my life who fanned those flames and encouraged me to follow my dreams. 

I believe it is our job as adults, to nurture the young people in our lives to develop and follow their dreams. If we don´t spark the flame, who will? As one creator of dreams come true once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Walt Disney 



Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She also had a desire to write since she was twelve. It wasn´t until she was a grandmother that her short stories started to win awards and were included in anthologies. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring spunky 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Her books include: Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel and Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. Readers from seven to seventy plus enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene and her husband currently live in Orihuela Costa, Spain. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.


Books available:


Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/amanda-in-arabia



Dear Darlene, thank you so much for agreeing to write for my blog and for allowing me to share your photographs. It is always a pleasure to welcome you here. 

I am always happy to share interesting posts from fellow bloggers or anyone wishing to try their hand at blogging.  I prefer the posts to be about childhood, hobbies, collecting or books but would consider other submissions. Please send an email with your idea, and I will get right back to you.   

49 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your new blogsite. You are one of those individuals who contribute to sparking the dreams of children by introducing them to classic children´s literature. Keep up the good work.

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    1. Thank you for your sweet words Darlene. Thank you also for this super contribution to my new/old blog. Barbara.

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  2. Lovely blog and love the photo!

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    1. Thanks! I´m glad you enjoyed it Sue.

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  3. What a wonderful post. I also have such fond memories of my beloved nana and my RE teacher, Mr Solly who likewise inspired me. Mr Solly opening my eyes to other places and people and in particular their faiths.

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    1. We have been so lucky to have these people in our lives!

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  4. What a lovely post - it really struck a chord with me. This bank holiday we have had our two much loved- granddaughters to stay - the eldest is five and her sister not yet two. Both of them love books. They have their own bedroom in our house and I awoke at just after 7am to hear Millie reading Evie a story. When I peeped at them the little one was sitting in her cot completely engrossed in the tale. I'm so glad I instilled a love of books in my daughter - and that she has passed it on.

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    1. What a sweet story. You can be very pleased that you instilled the love of books in the next generations.

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    2. Hello Marilyn, you must have had such fun with your two little granddaughters and how sweet to hear Millie reading to Evie.

      Zoe and Lilly will be almost five and three and a half when they come to stay at Christmas. It will be two years since we last saw them, so I’m sure we will notice lots of changes. We can’t wait to see them! We know they like stories because they tell us all about them on the phone.

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  5. Loved reading this post. I have fond memories of my mum reading to me from childrens corner that they used to have in those very old women's weekly and women and home magazines which was given to her by an American friend. I remember vaguely about Robin and their family episodes. They used to be only very short episodes but I loved them and used to ask mum to read it to me over and over again especially those long cold wet monsoon evening when we could not step out.

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  6. Reading was such a great way to spend the time when the weather stopped us from going out too. (No TV or internet in those days) I´m glad you enjoyed the post.

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  7. I love to read what inspires authors. Very interesting.

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  8. Hello Barbara and Darlene, it's so nice to read about one of our friends on one of my absolutely favourite blogs. I remember those gorgeous colouring books my parents bought me, and I can imagine how excited you were on that plane to England. I feel like I've read so much about this country, and can't wait to visit it one day soon. Best of luck with your Amanda series, Darlene. Keep writing and keep travelling!

    Dear Barbara, I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately. The renovations are on the final stretch (upgrading works done, rewiring done, and now painting ~ which is taking longer than anticipated but still there is progress everyday). Hope to catch up soon. I read your last post and the calendar pictures were hilarious and fascinating. They are the sort of illustrations I enjoy much. Have a great week ~ xoxo C.

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    1. Hello Claudine, there is really no need to say sorry ‘real’ life has to take precedence sometimes. I will be missing for six or seven weeks when the family come to stay, it’s just one of those things. Just think how nice it will all be once the renovations are done. Thinking about it, I hope you are benefiting from them, I know you said it was in your block, but I hope that includes your actual flat.
      I’m so pleased you enjoyed the calendar post. I wasn’t sure it would be to everyone’s tastes – especially as it is a long way away from my normal themes. Take care of yourself xxx

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    2. Thanks Claudine for the best wishes. I too hope you will be happy when the renovations are complete. <3

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  9. Dear Barbara,
    I enjoyed reading the guest post by Darlene, can you believe I still love colouring books:)

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    1. I too still enjoy colouring books and they are now becoming more popular with adults. Now if only they would give us colouring place mats at restaurants!

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  10. Our dreams are shared across the pond, across the globe. Good morning everyone! Off now for me to rush off to school and see kids' dreams develop.

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    1. Have fun helping kid´s develop dreams!!

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    2. Hello Anita, thanks for calling in before rushing off to school, I hope you had a very productive day. Barbara x

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  11. It's easy to see the connection between the those colouring book pages from long ago and the creativity that has emerged since then. Brava!

    And all because you had the courage and persistence to make these exotic characters come to life in your books!

    You and your books are both ageless, Darlene. ;-)

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    1. That is a wonderful compliment Marian. Thank you so much!

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  12. Darlene so fun to read about your inspiration! Your creativity has deep roots. Wishing you every success in your continued writing.

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    1. Thank you Sue. These wonderful comments are inspiring me!

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  13. It's exciting learning more about you, Darlene. Interesting how our passions begin so early, but then life gets in the way. The important thing is you finally realized your dream. What a marvelous post this is. :-D :-D

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    1. Thanks Tess. Dreams can lay dormant for awhile but they will eventually come to the forefront if we let them. So pleased you liked this post.

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  14. I've also noticed that colouring books are making a comeback, for adults too. It was wonderful to read about what and who inspired you as a child, and later on. And it's good for everyone to know they should hang on to their dreams, because when you're in the right place, at the right time, you never know ....

    I'd love to know where Amanda is having her next adventure!

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    1. Thanks Sue. Yes, colouring books are making a comeback and it´s about time too! Because you asked, Amanda is taking a cruise down the Danube in her next adventure; visiting Nuremberg, Vienna, Budapest and a few other interesting places.

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    2. Oooh! Some of my favourite cities - that sounds splendid. Thanks for popping over to the Bother & Chums FB page - hope you enjoyed your visit!

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  15. I loved seeing the original perfume flask that sparked your first book. You certainly have manifested your dreams of traveling and writing!

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    1. I take the perfume flask with me when I do school readings. The kids love it!

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  16. So sweet! I started reading at a very young age. It was the perfect escape. But there's something about coloring that has always been relaxing for me. When my niece was into coloring, I would use that as an excuse to color! You can't really sit and color in a coloring book as an adult without people looking at you strangely.

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    1. I know, I always colour with kids whenever I can, sometimes stranger´s kids. But that is now changing, adult colouring books are becoming popular. Thank heaven!!

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  17. I loved coloring books as a child (still do!). Seems they are making a real comeback with adults of all ages joining in. Fun to hear of the adventures that led to your series of books. :)

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    1. Thanks Marcia. I am so pleased to know that colouring books for adults are now becoming the rage. Glad you enjoyed my post.

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  18. So wonderful to learn more about Darlene. I remember seeing this series a while back on your blog, Barbara (or I could remember it from another blog). :) I loved hearing about how Darlene became inspired to visit other places and to write. Traveling is such fun! :)

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  19. Travelling is fun! Pleased you enjoyed the article Stephanie. :-D

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  20. Wonderful to read your journey, thank you so much for linking it in to the Kid Lit Blog Hop

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    1. Thanks for commenting and visiting from Kid Lit Blog Hop.

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  21. I believe that what we see, hear and do as children really shape us as adults. I also had a great curiosity for travelling and meeting people from all cultures. This lead me to learn and teach languages and, of course, to buying my motorhome, the gate-away to so many adventures. I am so glad you achieved your dream of becoming a published author, Darlene. Very well done to you. And I LOVE that sombrero!

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    1. Yes, you certainly have enjoyed your travels as well. The sombrero was a tad too big but fun to wear for the picture!! Thanks for the comment.

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  22. Fabulous guest post and I have to agree that travel sure gets the writer juices flowing and thanks to my mother, who wanted to go and see things all the time, I have many experiences to write about.

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    1. Hello Eve, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Darlene did a fabulous job.

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    2. How fortunate to have a mother who took you places to fuel your imagination. I hope you are having fun writing about these experiences! Thanks for the comment.

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  23. Imagine finding you here, Darlene. You ARE a traveller!! I love the fact that you travel. I've told you so on many occasions and it's super cool that you were able to take two things you love doing and come up with a whole series of books!

    You have a great blog, Barbara! I'll bookmark it and visit again. :)

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    1. I am so glad you found Barbara! This blogging world is so fabulous. Thanks for your lovely comments Laura.

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  24. Thank you Laura, I will look forward to 'chatting' with you again. Barbara.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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