Arjun Basu


We’ve just received the great news that Arjun Basu has been nominated for this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize – the richest fiction prize in Canada! I’m reblogging his promotion from Reading Recommendations so that everyone may join me in sending all best wishes to Arjun! (And here’s a link to the prize announcement.)

Originally posted on Reading Recommendations:

I first met Arjun Basu when we both had much longer hair. He was working for a Canadian publisher and I was one of the sales reps. I remember when he first showed me the advance copy of A Prairie Alphabet , that I swooned over this beautiful children’s picture book by a then-unknown Saskatchewan author/illustrator team. My territory was the Prairies – so, this was the perfect book written and published for me to sell! The book went on to sell tens of thousands of copies across Canada and in the US (but mainly in my territory!), and the publisher has since published another couple of books by this same author/illustrator team. What great memories, to have been part of such a successful book! So I’m pleased to present Arjun Basu who is now writing and publishing his own fiction. smt

Arjun_lo resArjun Basu

What is your latest release and…

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Interview with Author/Blogger/Publisher Susan Toy


Thanks so much to Janice Spina for hosting me in this interview on her blog!

Originally posted on jemsbooks:

 Susan Toy

Please welcome, Susan Toy, who has many titles – multi-talented author, blogger, and publisher to my Guest Blog Segment. Thank you, Susan, for coming today.

Can you please tell my readers and me a little about yourself and how you started in the publishing business?

I first worked as a bookseller, fresh out of university. I became a publishers’ sales rep about twelve years later. My partner and I moved out of Canada in 1996 and I was essentially “retired” until I decided to write a novel. Realizing then that, while I knew a great deal about how books were sold, I knew very little about how they were written, I enrolled in an online writing program. After that I moved on to an online publishing program and took editing classes as part of it. I loved learning online, especially as I was able to work from the…

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Reviews of Island in the Clouds!

Wow!! There is no better way to begin a Saturday morning (or any morning!) than by opening not one but two emails in which the senders have notified you of reviews they’ve written of your book!

Many thanks to roughseainthemed for writing and posting to her blog this very thorough review:

Bequia? Where on earth is Bequia?

Thank you as well to A., a UK reader who wishes to remain anonymous. He contacted me after reading Island in the Clouds to tell me he had bought and read the book while on Bequia for a holiday this past spring. He has given me permission to post the full review from his email on my blog:

Island in the clouds is a gripping murder mystery story set on the small Caribbean island of Bequia.

The story isn’t what you expect and is all the better for it!

I loved how Toy doesn’t just portray life on the island as some blissful paradise but goes for life as it is which makes the novel feel very authentic. The characters are drawn from across the full spectrum of island life and Toy expertly develops and blends them as the plot progresses. The twist and turns throughout are managed perfectly and this is a book that you won’t want to put down.

I was on holiday with my family in Bequia whilst I was reading Island in the Clouds. This meant the places quickly resonated and we were able to track most of the locations down during our stay. The book really enhanced our visit to Bequia providing context and a backdrop to our holiday and a narrative from which to explore. Without it we would never have discovered Nando’s restaurant, known about Moonhole or the history behind Frangi’s.

I had this on Kindle and whilst in Bequia purchased a print copy from the bookshop in Port Elizabeth. Not surprisingly this has been top of my friends wish lists since we’ve been back!

In summary a great story in its own right but an absolute must for anyone visiting Bequia to really unlock everything on the island to you.

This review in particular really pleases me because, unlike the concerns voiced by some early readers that my story of murder and incompetent police would scare away potential tourists from the island, A. is telling us that he used my novel as a kind of guidebook and discovered aspects of Bequia he might not otherwise have learned about during his holiday. And he’s recommending the book to his friends!

For me, it doesn’t get any better than that!

So, thank you again to roughseainthemed and A.intheUK for reading and recommending Island in the Clouds, and for making many points in both their reviews that will now assist me while writing the next novel in the Bequia Perspectives Series. I take all comments seriously and know that reviewers help me become a better writer.

While I have your attention, allow me to post links to two interviews that bloggers conducted with me recently:
Allan Hudson on South Branch Scribbler – 4Q Interview with award-winnning author Susan Toy
Tricia Drammeh on Authors to Watch – Interview with Susan M. Toy

Vern Shank and The Cherry Drops – a listening recommendation

Welcome to Listening Recommendations the first of what I hope will be a series of recommendations of musicians and musical groups I enjoy! Just like my other Author promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, I will be introducing blog readers to interesting and exciting Indie Musicians who are recording and performing right now, anywhere in the world!

The Cherry Drops(1) Vern Shank and The Cherry Drops

What is your latest release and what type of music is it? Everything’s Groovy is our release. We are a retro powerpop band, 60’s, 70’s garage rock and bubblegum mixed with alternative rock.

Quick description of the songs: 14 songs on our debut release. We are influenced by The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Archies, Partridge Family along with a little flare of Tom Petty, The B52’s, Cheap Trick, Queen, Raspberries & The Sweet.

The Cherry Drops

Your biography:
The Cherry Drops exploded onto the musical scene like a warm cherry pie on a hot day in the summer of 2012. The band is comprised of Vern Shank, principal songwriter, lead vocalist and melody maker, along with Joshua Cobb, background vocals and producer. In addition, Evan Foster from Seattle, WA, lends some blazing guitar solos on a track, as well as bassist Jamie Markowski and TJ Rosenman who are featured on The Cherry Drops project.

Laverne Shank, a.k.a. Vern, grew up around Philadelphia, PA, with an early start in the music & film arts. While in school, Vern was in band, chorus and stage and he also played guitar. Vern was cast for a small part as an extra in the movie Witness, starring Harrison Ford that was being filmed in his old hometown. The experience made Vern catch the “bug” to go to “Hollywood”.

Upon graduation, he moved to L.A. and attended music school, playing in a band at age 19-22. During his tenure at the school, Vern took a few film classes for acting and tried his hand in writing a few scripts. He also DJ’d a bit on the local college radio station, which at the time aired on the campus and around the area outside of the school. It was a hip station for the students.

He returned back home a few years later and soon became manager of a few area music and video retail stores called The Wall, later renamed to FYE (For Your Entertainment). It was during this time that Vern met his future business partner of almost 25 years, Art Bourasseau.

The Cherry Drops - Press Kit Photo - JPG

Vern & Art quickly realized that the entertainment field was where they both belonged. They left the retail side of the music industry and both began working for a division of Sony Music as label reps. They then decided to join forces in business. Collaborating and bouncing ideas back and forth on two separate music business ventures, Art took the helm and started an independent music label called MuSick Recordings. They also collectively opened a professional DJ company called Pyramid Disc Jockeys.

After several years, in 2000, Vern’s business partner moved to Burbank in L.A. to “head up” the music label end of things where it made perfect sense to be in the music biz in the “City Of Angels”. Vern had originally planned on going back to L.A. also, but for personal reasons, moved to Florida instead to expand the DJ company and entertainment in Orlando and the coastlines of sunny Florida.

With Vern taking full control of the DJ company in Florida that same year, Pyramid Disc Jockeys soon became one of the larger entertainment companies in the Daytona Beach, Orlando & Jacksonville areas for weddings and parties.

Vern also resumed his on-air DJ skills as part of the radio station, The Blizzard 93.3 FM located in Flagler County. He DJ’d on the air 4 days a week in the early evening time slot. He also had his own pre-recorded radio program called The Beach & Island Show on that station which aired on Saturday “happy hour” time beginning at 5pm where he spun the island & the beach music of the surf, sand, sunshine & sea. The station unfortunately disbanded after 5 years.

With the demise of The Blizzard, Vern opened up a small music store called the Flagler Music Factory which gave lessons for guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. The store also sold musical instruments and accessories. As the economy began to tank because of the market crash and the housing market crunch, the recession caused the store to slowly loose ground. Unfortunately, he had to make a tough decision but eventually was forced to retire it.

In 2009, with Pyramid still in full force Vern returned to radio as well and was hired as the “live” DJ for a different radio station, Beach 92.7 FM in Florida for remote broadcasts requiring a jock to be present during radio sponsored events.

Through these years, Vern and Art remained in close contact. Inspired by Art’s successful independent music label in California, Vern expanded his own business in 2010 to include an indie label and artist management company under the name Pyramid Music Productions. The first musician signed to Pyramid’s label was Top 40 Dance artist, Mark E. Walker; formerly of MCSC, Stevie B. and C+C Music Factory fame. Mark’s debut EP titled Here We Go was released under the Pyramid Music Label in 2010.

In early 2011, Vern co-wrote several songs with Mark, including Into the Future featuring legendary rapper, Freedom Williams of C+C Music Factory. These songs were released in digital format under the label along with the video (Mark E. Walker; feat. Freedom Williams). Together, Vern and a fellow associate, Dave Grabner, helped negotiate a deal to sign Mark to Ritmo Records, a well-established dance label.

Shortly thereafter, Vern noticed a local singer/songwriter, David Lane. Vern began guiding David’s musical career and in 2011 became David’s management company. In order to expand David’s career, Vern joined forces and introduced him to Art of Musick Recordings. Vern continues to manage David’s career working closely with Art. David’s debut was released on the MuSick Recordings label in Burbank, CA. in 2012.

During the summer of 2012, Vern launched his own band project, The Cherry Drops, a retro power-pop band with a 60’s and 70’s feel and yet with a refreshingly new rock sound. He is lead singer, musician and principal songwriter of the band. The band’s debut was released June 21, 2013 (The first day of summer!)

Vern still finds time to run his DJ business along with the band label & artist management company but has recently re-visited his SCREENWRITING projects. In 2008 he had begun writing again and by 2012 he really began to get serious with his film, music, video and television screenplay projects. A few of his latest scripts include a sci-fi comedy, fantasy movie titled Transference and an action/drama with a working title called Bullet Time.

In January of 2013 Vern began to collaborate with the old Blizzard radio station head that he used to work for, to open up Flagler Beach, FL’s very own radio station The Surf (Surf 1700 AM / 97.3 FM) which hit the airwaves June 2013. He co-owns and runs the station directly on the Atlantic Ocean at The Flagler Pier bringing beach & island music with a happy sunshine pop oldies feel across the airwaves and online to the sunny beaches of Florida and beyond.

Vern maintains residence throughout the year in both Florida and in the Burbank, CA, area for his business ventures. This schedule enables him to work on all of his entertainment related projects.

Links for people to buy it:
CD available at our Website.
Downloads available on EVERY online music Download out there including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Googleplay, TargetMusic, Rhapsody, Best Buy, etc.

The Cherry Drops’ promo links:
Outta’ Sight Music Video
The Cherry Drops YouTube Channel
Surf 97.3 FM Radio Station
Pyramid Disc Jockeys
LaVerne Shank Films

Cherry Drops Sirius XM2

We were also very honored and humbled to announce that we were chosen and named “The Coolest Song In The World” for our song Outta Sight by SiriusXM Radio Little Steven’s Underground Garage/ Stevie Van Zandt. Steven of course is Bruce Springsten’s E-Street Band band mate and proprietor of the Sirius XM affiliate. He was also in the hit TV Show The Sopranos. We will be on heavy full rotation from now on Sirius XM (CH. 21) as well as his syndicate terrestrial radio show that began on 8/10/14 and is on station’s across the country. Our interview aired on Friday 8/15. Other songs from our album Everything’s Groovy is also in rotation as well from here on.

Little Steven Cool10

What are you working on now?
Our 2nd album (yet untitled) and another music video for another song from our first album called Pop, Pop, (‘Til You Drop) that will partially be animated and part real life. The animation is being created by Sue Bielenberg of The Simpsons & King Of The Hill fame.

Please recommend the name of a musician or band whose work you’ve enjoyed lately.
Locksley, Drifting Sand & Al Jardine’s solo album.

…good writing, like water, will ultimately find its own level…


Good points made here by Seumas Gallacher! “The best way to promote yer books is to write stuff that’s at least halfway decent… with good proof reading, editing, cover art…”

Originally posted on Seumas Gallacher:

…the quill-scrapers’ equivalent of ‘getting yer shins kicked’ is that period starting from when yeez first put pen to paper or fingertips to laptop in the quest of producing ‘that book’ we all supposedly have in us, until the point of realisation that yer WURK is now actually ‘fit for public consumption’… I’m reading a lot of stuff currently on the Web where all sorts of people are rabbiting on about ‘How To Sell More Books’, I’m not saying they’re all charlatans or get-rich-quick-on other-folks’-hopes merchants, but frankly some of them are NUTHIN but that… fiddling around with SEO functions may be all very well for the real internet technicians, but even then, I think that kind of exercise has an extremely short ’sell-by’ date… and generally expensive… show me a rich author who can afford that expense, and I’ll show you about 0.000000538 % of the scribblers…

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Blame it on the Chikungunya …

Well, it’s been just over 6 weeks since I contracted Chikungunya, the mosquito-borne tropical virus I wrote about here and here. I began taking the papaya leaf juice again last week and have been drinking it for four days, 1-1/2 oz. three times a day, and feel as though I may have turned a corner. I’m sleeping better at night, although I still wake in the morning with cramped hands and have to do a shuffle-walk until my legs and feet become accustomed to moving again. But I can honestly say this time that *fingers-crossed!!!* I think I am getting better.

I still plan on returning to Canada next week for a visit with friends and family. I’m not sure how much travelling I’ll be able to do once I arrive there. It all depends on how much more I am able to recover from this virus while I still have access to fresh papaya leaves.

One of the more frustrating aspects of this virus is the way it has affected my cognitive powers (if I ever actually had “power” in that department at all!) and my memory. This has made doing the editing I had hoped to finish while on Bequia nearly impossible. Not to mention writing my own second novel I wanted to complete during this time. I’m constantly tired and my fingers are either cramped up or in pain so much that even typing on the computer is difficult at times. I am completely unable to write with a pen and paper. I can barely sign my name. I can’t twist off a bottle lid or chop vegetables or even slice into a loaf of bread, and Dennis still has to cut up dinner for me into bite-sized pieces. How humiliating!

So there you have it … and I hope none of you is ever infected with this virus! If you do plan a trip to the Caribbean, it’s important you are aware of the existence of Chikungunya, but I don’t think you need to be scared off by it. Just use greater precaution and bring lots of insect repellant with you. We think it’s because of Dennis’s vigilance in lathering himself up with OFF! Lotion (we bring bottles back from Canada) that he hasn’t caught it yet. I admit, I have been lax when it comes to avoiding mosquito bites … And at least you now know that, if you ever do come down with the virus, that this is what it is and there is hope for recovery from it.

I’m hoping that – soon – I’ll be up singing and dancing again and will not have to blame it on the Chikungunya any longer, but the Bossa Nova, instead. (Not that I’ve ever danced the Bossa Nova before, but the number of syllables in the word “Chikungunya” fit perfectly into this old song title!)

More Recommended Authors

When I glanced through the notebook I use for listing all the books I’ve read, have actually finished reading, I noticed names of a number of Authors who had been either new to me at the time – so, very pleasant discoveries! – or whose particular book I enjoyed reading immensely! (There’s that qualifying word again …)

In some cases, I was blown away by the writing, and very pleased to have come across a new-to-me Author who is now listed among my must-read-everything-they’ve-written favourite Authors. I’ve noted where this is the case.

None of these Authors has been featured on my Reading Recommendations blog – yet … I have linked to their websites or the specific book I read so that you have more information about these authors and can decide for yourself if you wish to read what they’ve written. Please do check them out, read, enjoy! ALL Authors are listed here because, first and foremost, I consider them to be great writers.

Jussi Adler-Olsen – A prolific Danish author whose Department Q series of crime novels is just now being translated into English. I have read the first four and am waiting for the fifth. Very, very good writer and, if you like the other Scandinavian mystery/crime writers, you will definitely enjoy Adler-Olsen.

Benjamin Black – This author was recommended to me by a friend who I consider to be a great Reader. Black is the pen name for the acclaimed literary author, John Banville. So far, I have read The Lemur and I’m about to begin reading the first of the Quirke Series, Christine Falls.

Nickolas Butler – Shotgun Lovesongs I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and loved, loved, loved reading it! This is a debut novel for Butler. I certainly hope it won’t be his only book. Such a gifted writer!

Karen Joy Fowler – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Seth Godin – I’ve read a number of his books now and believe him to be one of the great thinkers and innovators of our time. Even if you just subscribe to his blog and receive daily thoughts and information in your email, it’s well worth reading what Godin has to say, especially if you are a writer.

Emma HealeyElizabeth is Missing

Harriet LaneAlys Always Blown away by this book written by a British Editor/Author! Her second novel has recently been released. I want to read that, as well.

Tan Twan Eng – The Garden of Evening Mists

Traditionally Published Authors on Reading Recommendations

I recently reblogged a post by Dylan Hearn in which he pledged to support his fellow self-published Authors and “Pay It Forward” by buying, reading and reviewing their books. In that blog post, I listed eight self-published Authors who had been promoted on Reading Recommendations – Authors whose writing had impressed me.

I also said I’d be back with a list of traditionally published Authors I have featured on my blog … again, those whose writing has impressed me, or whose books I’ve read and enjoyed immensely. (I am only listing Authors here if I’ve actually read one of their books. I still have many books yet to read, so I will no doubt be adding to this list at a later date.)

So, in alphabetical order, here is my list of traditionally published Authors! (All links take you to their promo page on Reading Recommendations.)

Brian Brennan
Katherine Govier
Linda Granfield
Jacqueline Guest
Betty Jane Hegerat
Rebecca Heishman
Barb Howard
Dave Margoshes (While I have not yet read this book nor the latest being published in Sept., I do know that Dave is a fine writer!)
David A. Poulsen

Now that I look back over this list, I realize most of these Authors have been writing and publishing for many years (a few of them for many, many years!) and I know most of them personally, having met all but one during my career as a bookseller and sales rep. In fact, I was a sales rep for four of these authors! So many good memories, and I’m pleased that all are still writing and publishing.

I highly recommend the books by all of these traditionally published Authors!



An updated Ink Stains newsletter with information on a new Tutorial Service available via Skype, a writing contest, and an idyllic cottage available for a writer’s retreat in Newfoundland – all from Paul F. Butler!

Originally posted on paul butler novelist:

Dear HB Creativity clients and friends,

In the following post you will find a new Tutorial Service available to clients through Skype, the opening of the second annual Instant Hook Literary Award, details regarding the Online Novel Writing Workshop Series and a Discussion Point on the pros and cons of getting friends to read and edit your work.


I am presently accepting bookings for one hour-long one-on-one writing tutorials through Skype.

The Process:

1. Make an appointment and exchange Skype details.
2. Send a work extract of one chapter and/or a brief synopsis three days or more ahead of the appointment.
3. List any questions including goals you would like to work on in the session. Either send them with your submission or ask them at the beginning of the session.


Spaces due to open up in mid-August:…

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Why do you write?

I wrote a similar blog post on July 9th, 2014, with the exact same title, but it seems like the right time to remind Authors of these thoughts of mine …)

Why do you write?

That’s a simple enough question, isn’t it? Why do you “create” could also be asked of all artists – musicians, visual, photographers, sculptors, authors … What is is that makes you want to create something? It’s a question every creator should ask themselves from time to time, but especially when they’re down, after having checked non-existent sales for the umpteenth time, or when reading lackluster reviews.

Why did you get into this in the first place?

If it was with a plan to write the next big bestseller and make untold fame and fortune then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell to you.

But if it was for the sheer joy of creating something, of using your imagination, or your experience or your skills, to form something tangible out of your vision … well, then! Now you see the ultimate value that no one – and I mean NO ONE! – can ever put a monetary value on or judge in any way to make you feel less than you should about realizing your dreams.

I’m asking this question, Why do you write?, because there are far too many authors out there who are agonizing over the $$$ (or £££ or €€€) and the numbers of copies sold and not considering what it is about writing and creating that got them into this in the first place.

And it all had me remembering a song written by Michael Burton, Night Rider’s Lament. The chorus pretty much sums up what I’m trying to say here … (Lyrics)

Here is my Calgary pal, Tom Phillips, accompanied by Shaye Zadravec (with the very talented Mr. Dwight Thompson on guitar in the background!), instead. Great song! And there’s a bonus – Tom yodels, too …

So … don’t tell me why you write. But be sure to tell yourself – over, and over, and over again.


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