Chikungunya – you cannot begin to imagine …

Some friends and blog readers know that I came down with a mosquito-borne virus, Chikungunya, shortly after I returned to Bequia in July. This virus had been moving through the community at a fast pace until now, just about everyone on the island has either been suffering with it or is attending to someone who is suffering with it. The only doctor on the island was run off his feet seeing and treating patients, although other than recommending Paracetamol for fever and pain, and Histol for the rash, there was nothing more he could prescribe. Rest, and when you think you might be getting better, more rest. A friend who had spent the winter on Bequia didn’t come down with Chikungunya until the day she went back to Canada for the summer. Somehow she had managed to protect herself from mosquito bites until that last week, but then she was hit by it hard and it’s really affected the quality of her life.


Here’s what happened to me … I returned to Bequia on July 14th and must have been bitten that night (the virus takes 5 to 7 days to incubate), because I began feeling achy joints and feverish on the 19th – and Dennis had just left that morning for his trip to Canada. I went to bed early that night and did not have a good sleep, so not only was I not rested on the Sunday morning, but I could barely move around the house on my own, let alone make something to eat. One of the other symptoms though is a lack of appetite. I received a lot of sympathy from Dennis’s staff of gardeners and housekeepers, because they had all suffered with the virus at one time or another during the spring. At least I knew they knew I was here alone and offered to help me, if I needed anything. The fever only lasted two days and I have never even felt headachy since then. But the joint pain has increased steadily over the weeks to the point where it has been debilitating at times. I had the full-body rash, as well, but that went away again within 24-hours. What a sight, though! Red splotches over my entire body! Funny that it wasn’t itchy, either. Just unsightful.

I’ve had Dengue Fever before. In fact, Dennis and I both had it at the same time, and it was all we could do to get out of bed for a glass of water. Thank goodness the cats insisted we get up to feed them! Dengue is known as “break bone fever” because you feel as though your bones will crack if you move in the slightest. But what I remember vividly of that illness was the incredible head-pounding headaches and high fevers we suffered. I did not, thankfully, experience anything like that with Chikungunya. And Dengue only lasted about 2-3 weeks for us (although it is possible to catch Dengue a second or third time).

It’s the pain in my joints and the bones themselves that is making Chikungunya unbearable for me, and for everyone else I’ve spoken with who has had this. I’m now into the fifth week since I contracted it, and there does not seem to be an end in sight. I sometimes feel better and think it’s going away and then it just hits me twice as hard the next day. Sometimes my fingers are swollen and cramped up so badly that I can’t even type. (I have not been able to write with pen and paper at all!) Other days, it’s my knees that won’t work properly and I can’t get out of bed or stand up from a chair without help. Always, always, though, I have had an unbelievable pain in my right bicep that is not in the joint and not in the muscle, but feels as though it’s right in the centre of the bone. Of course, I’m right-handed, and I don’t have enough strength in this arm to lift and carry, or even to just do small things, like brush my teeth or hair. It’s difficult to dress myself (so I remained in pajamas most of the time, until it felt a little too much like I was lounging around the place …), or to hold and drink a glass of water, and definitely impossible to write. The pain is much worse at night when you would think that relaxing and sleeping might help. That’s when the numbness in my hands begins and it’s near impossible to get settled into a comfortable position let alone fall asleep. Even then, if I move the wrong way, I scream out in pain, waking up Dennis and the cats (although I’m now not screaming in sheer agony the way I was the first few nights …). Sometimes a hot water bottle helps, but generally I just have to hope I’ll fall asleep deeply enough that I won’t be restless at all. Taking a couple of Gravol sometimes help, but is no guarantee I will sleep.

The other problems I’ve noticed is that I’m not steady on my feet, but I also can’t sit for long periods of time, either. I need to get up and walk around just to increase the circulation again and to stop the numbness in my hands. And then there’s the lack of any exercise, because I just haven’t got the energy, and that lack of exercise is causing my calf and arm muscles to waste away. It’s becoming noticeable. And why-oh-why is this not causing my butt and thigh muscles to waste away, I ask you???? There is no justice!

The worst of it is that my mental capacities are strained. I’m lethargic and I find I’m forgetting more than usual, am not able to concentrate or even focus on anything, and this is the most I’ve written at a stretch that is more than a Facebook status update or short email. I can read, thank goodness, but I’m not sure I’m really retaining all that much.

It’s been a very frustrating 5 weeks, let me tell ya! And when I speak with others, that’s what they all say, too. We’re more incapacitated than feeling really sick. But we’re angry with feeling this way for such a long time. (Some have had these same symptoms I describe for 12 weeks or more already.) And, especially knowing that there’s really nothing we can take to alleviate the discomfort, we’re angry. The ONLY consolation we have is in knowing we can never catch Chikungunya again.

And, fortunately for me, Dennis has never caught it. He’s been looking after me all this time, since he returned from Canada. I would not have been able to survive on my own, that’s for sure. Those cats still need to be fed, regardless of how bad we may feel!

So that’s my Chikungunya story and an explanation as to why I’ve been so quiet on this blog of late. Today I have to say I feel a bit better than yesterday, but even while typing this, I’ve had to be careful of my right arm and the way I hold it. It’s beginning to become painful again now, so I will quit this. My right thumb is going numb, too. I just hope I’ll be able to fly back to Canada again at the beginning of Sept. I can’t imagine travelling anywhere, let alone on planes, feeling the way I feel right now.

Here are links that you might find interesting. And, please note, this virus is only transmitted by two varieties of mosquitoes that thrive in tropical climates. Let’s hope, for everyone’s sakes, that it does not begin to mutate in any way and spread even further than it already has!

From Wikipedia

Canadian Travel Advisory

Caribbean 360

So Your Friend Is an Author…


Thanks to The Story Reading Ape for reblogging and bringing Chris McMullen’s blog to my attention. If your friend is an author, here’s how you may support him or her when they’ve published a book. Reading, comments and reviews are always welcome, but Chris suggests so many other ways you can do your part to support your friend, the Author.

Originally posted on chrismcmullen:


Amazing, Isn’t It?

Yes. It is.

How many authors do you actually know?

Now your friend is one.

The key word there is friend.

This was your friend before. Becoming an author doesn’t change that.

Sure, you can tease your friend about this, if your relationship ordinarily involves teasing.

But your friendship is based on more than just teasing:

  • You support one another. Even if one of you writes a book.
  • You’re honest with one another. Even if you think the book isn’t quite, well, you know.
  • You know each other well. How to get on one another’s nerves. How to put things gently. So you can figure out the right way to share honest feedback.
  • You motivate one another. So in addition to honest feedback, you’ll provide encouragement, motivation, and direction.

Your friend wrote a book. That’s a huge accomplishment. Treat it as such.

There are some things you…

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Now Available! … a new novel by Tim Baker!!

My good friend and fellow author, Tim Baker (previously featured on Reading Recommendations), has already written and published six novels that are all set in the Florida community of Flagler Beach on the Palm Coast. I have devoured every one of these suspense/thrillers and not only love Tim’s writing, but also the characters he’s created (some recurring) and his descriptions of life in a tourist beach town. I was honoured when Tim asked me to read an early manuscript of his next book, titled Eyewitness Blues and I’m happy to tell you now that this latest publication is every bit as good – no, it’s even BETTER! – than the other novels! I highly recommend reading this new book and suggest that, if you haven’t already read Tim Baker’s other novels, you go back and read them all, right now! You will not be disappointed! (And here’s a little hint as to one of the reasons why I think the new novel is so good – it offers more IKE!!!)

Now, Dennis and I don’t often agree when it comes to books we both enjoy reading, but I have to tell you that Tim Baker’s novels are an exception – Dennis has become as big a fan as I am. He can’t wait to read this next book!

Eyewitness Blues is now available to purchase from Amazon!
And in Paperback from Createspace!


Martin didn’t exactly witness the murder, but he knows who pulled the trigger – so reporting it to the law and using it as his ticket into the witness protection program isn’t wrong.

Is it?

Martin sings like the proverbial canary, but when mob boss Don Gammino learns that his right-hand man has been named as a murder suspect he decides to teach Martin a new tune.

After barely escaping alive, Martin finds himself in the Florida bedroom community of Flagler Beach where his only protection from Gammino and his goon squad is in the form of a wheelchair-bound bookie and an ex-Navy SEAL, named Ike, with a penchant for bending the rules.

Martin’s in a tropical paradise surrounded by people but he still feels alone in the world.

Life isn’t easy when you have the Eyewitness Blues.

10481665_4345109243023_8120177804618256457_n Originally from Warwick, Rhode Island, Tim Baker enjoyed a 25-year career in Architecture and Engineering, followed by short stints in the natural gas industry, construction and ice cream sales before moving to Florida in 2006

An avid dog-lover, Tim was a volunteer puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, raising and socializing potential guide dogs. Tim has studied and taught martial arts, and he is also a certified SCUBA diver.

In addition to writing Tim is also a disc jockey on WQFB – 97.3 FM “The Surf”.

Being a native New Englander, he is a lifetime member of Red Sox Nation.

Inspired by his interest in Karma and the unexplained forces of the universe, he made his first serious attempt at writing in 1988 when he began a novel entitled, Full Circle, a story about the far reaching effects one man’s actions can have on people he has never even met. Unfortunately, without the use of a computer or even a typewriter he shelved the project due to the difficulties of trying to construct a novel completely by hand.

In early 2007, a bizarre dream inspired his first novel, appropriately called Living the Dream, and he has been cranking out books non-stop ever since. Tim writes fast-paced, off-beat crime stories set in Flagler Beach and St. Augustine, full of colorful characters and loaded with unexpected and often humorous twists and turns. He has also co-written two zombie novellas and written a few short stories for horror anthologies.

Currently, Tim is enjoying life in Palm Coast, Florida.

Published works;
Living the Dream – Aug 2009
Water Hazard – Nov 2010
Backseat to Justice – July 2011
Pump It Up – Aug 2011
No Good Deed – May 2012
Unfinished Business – Aug 2013
Dying Days – The Siege of European Village (co-written w/Armand Rosamilia) – Dec 2012
Dying Days – Siege 2 (co-written w/Armand Rosamilia) – Dec 2013

Next Scheduled release – Eyewitness Blues – Aug 2014

To contact Tim or find out about upcoming works please visit his website.
Amazon Author Page


Here’s an initiative that I think has a great deal of potential and is worth your consideration, if you are an Indie Author. Sign up on the Published Indie Authors blogsite if you are interested in participating or wish to receive more information.

Do YOU provide Author Promotion and Support Services?


From The Story Reading Ape who is compiling more resources for authors and helping to promote themselves and their work. Reading Recommendations is proud to already be listed in Authors’ Resources Central!

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog..... An Author Promotions Enterprise!:

And would like to be included in my blog


I would like to expand the following resources

Author / Book Promotions

Having them as Guests on your blog


notifying your followers and visitors when books are on promotion.

Book Reviewers

Posting your reviews on your blog

AND other places like

Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc.

Beta readers

Please state preferred genre.

Proof Readers

Please state preferred genre.

Professional Book Editors

Please advise editing type and preferred genre.

In all cases, please provide the following:

The name and FULL online address of your blog.

The link to any terms/conditions and application form.

The link to any charges/fees applicable.

Your photo and / or Logo.

To avoid disappointment

DO NOT leave the information in the Comments box below


tsraauthorarticles (AT) gmail (DOT) com

(address given this way to avoid spamming programs…

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Goodreads Giveaway – a BIG success!!

Well, I am one happy author/publisher today after my third Goodreads Giveaway ended successfully with an extraordinary number of entrants – 1457!!! Thrilled, as a matter of fact, as it doubles the total number of entrants for the first contest I held last Sept. Here are the stats for each of the 3 Giveaways:

From Sept. 1-30 – 762 entered, 10 winners – Available to readers in Canada, US, UK, Australia
From Dec. 10 – Jan. 16 – 130 entered, 5 winners – Available to readers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Guernsey, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland
From June 16 – Aug. 4 – 1457, 5 winners – Available to readers in Canada, US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa


Readers, if you entered any of these contests but did not win a print copy of Island in the Clouds, please send me a private message, if you’re interested in reading and reviewing the eBook version. And, if you’d still prefer receiving the print copy, watch for future giveaways on Goodreads.

Authors, if you are not listed on Goodreads already – what are you waiting for??? I have found the exposure I’ve received for myself and by books to be incredible, not to mention again the success I’ve realized in participating in their First Reads and Giveaway programs, as outlined above. The way I look at this is, every new entrant to a contest or every new reader who adds my books to their “to-read” lists is someone who might not otherwise have heard of me or my books. So, essentially, Goodreads is one of the best means for authors to find new readers! Do consider setting up your own Giveaway on the site (print books only eligible at the moment) and I promise that I will help you promote your contest to my readers and friends, if you send me the link.

Thanks, Goodreads! For providing authors with an effective way to promote our books!

It Was Much More Than an Interview – It Could Save a Life


Read about the terrific interview Tim Baker held with Mickey Jones on The Surf 97.3 Friday evening and consider helping Mickey if you are at all able to do so.

Originally posted on blindoggbooks:

On Friday August 1, 2014 I had the pleasure of interviewing Mickey Jones on my radio show (as I warned you about here).

If you don’t know who Mickey Jones is – look here. If you don’t know about my radio program on 97.3  The Surf – look here.

Anyway – about the interview…

Just prior to calling him, I played the song Secret Agent Man by Johnny Rivers to get the listening audience primed – since Mickey was the drummer on that track.

secret agent manI called Mickey and we exchanged pleasantries off-air while the song played. Mind you – Mickey couldn’t hear the song so he had no idea what the audience was hearing.

When the song finished I brought our mics up and welcomed Mickey to the show, telling him that we had just played Secret Agent Man.

“That’s a good song,” he said. “Let…

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AUTHORS Don’t be TWITS when TWEETING and making Online ‘Friends’!


I’m reblogging this post from The Story Reading Ape, because he outlines EXACTLY the mistakes I’ve discovered that too many authors have been making when trying to promote themselves.

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog..... An Author Promotions Enterprise!:

As someone who makes online contact with authors on a daily basis, there are a few things that actually IRK me (not a pretty sight), so please excuse me while I arrange this soapbox more comfortably and elaborate further.

These irk-making issues are not unique to me and have been expressed by many people – including many non-irk making authors – so unless you want to LOSE potential readers, fans and friends, you need to STOP doing the following IMMEDIATELY on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads, Shefari, Librarything, et al:

Making your first contact with the immortal words:

Get my books at ***************

LIKE my FB Page at ***************

Follow my Website / blog at ***************

And similar well meant (?), but self-centred sayings!!!!!

Think about it for a few moments – WHY did this person start Following / Liking / Send you a Friend / Connection Request?

Is it…

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The Review Challenge

As many of you know, I have written and self-published a novel, Island in the Clouds, and a novella, That Last Summer, and I’ve been promoting both through whatever means I can – mainly on social media and by advertising locally on Bequia and in Minden, where the stories are set. But I’ve mainly been depending on word-of-mouth promotion, hoping that readers who enjoy reading what I’ve written will tell their friends about these books, either directly or by reviewing the books and commenting on them on social media, on Amazon, on Goodreads, etc. This has been working well, enabling me to get the word out there much further than if I were to personally contact every person I know.

But I do realize that many, many more people have read my books than are telling me or their friends about having read them. I’ve given away copies in contests, through my blog and on Goodreads, I’ve sent free eBooks to bloggers and travel or book sites, and I’ve gifted many print copies of the novel to many more people – all in the hope that they will not only enjoy reading what I’ve written, but also that they will then take that a step further and review/tell a friend about the books.

I would like to thank those who have taken the time to review online or who have sent me an email with your thoughts about the books. I’ve compiled everything here in an Online Reviews and Comments PDF (scroll down to What Readers are saying about Island in the Clouds!) Your support and enthusiasm has been overwhelming and much appreciated!

However, I would like to throw out a challenge to anyone else who has not yet reviewed either of my books online or by sending me a direct message: Please consider writing something now and posting it. Even if you didn’t enjoy either of the books all that much, tell me why that was the case. Authors just want their work to be read, and we thrive and survive on Readers telling us what we did right or wrong in our writing. If you do not feel comfortable putting your comments out there for all the world to see, I would even appreciate receiving a private email with your thoughts. It all helps me to improve my writing.

And it helps to attract new readers to my writing … so here’s the Review Challenge for you to consider – If you have read my books, please recommend them to another friend who you think will enjoy them. Then ask them to do the same and recommend it to another of their friends. Pass on your copy if you need to do so in order to convince them it’s worth reading. While I’d love it if everyone bought their own copies to read, I completely understand lending as a means of interesting readers who don’t know about me. I’m even willing to send out free eBook copies to anyone who would like to read and review either book. If you, or a friend, are willing to do that, please contact me. susanmtoy (at)

I hope this idea doesn’t sound like desperation-for-reviews on my part. What I’m really trying to get across here is how important word-of-mouth promotion is to ALL authors, whether self-or-traditionally published. I know! I was a sales rep for publishers during my career, and the best-selling books were always those that I could personally recommend as having read and enjoyed myself. (Plus, I can be a very convincing sales person at times …) I now very dutifully read and rate/review many books on Goodreads, and I occasionally post a review on Amazon, but I also publish an Author Promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, so I believe I am still doing my bit to get the word out there for my fellow authors.

So, what are you going to do about this? Are you willing to take up my challenge? I would be ecstatic if every reader who has read either of my books were to recommend just one to another reader! And, if each of you were to review those books or send me an email with your comments, as well … You will have made this particular author very, very happy!!

Authors, please feel free to share this blog post and encourage your readers to become part of a challenge to spread the word about your own books – and all authors and their books!


WRITERS – BEWARE OF SCAMS by Author Florence Osmund


Thanks to The Story Reading Ape for posting this excellent article written by Florence Osmund.

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog..... An Author Promotions Enterprise!:

The self-publishing industry has become one of the fastest growing industries of the century. According to R. R. Bowker, the self-publishing industry has grown 287% since 2006, with close to 150,000 self-published books released in 2011, an astounding 43% of all new books released.

Unfortunately, this self-publishing growth spurt has also created a haven for scam artists to take advantage of aspiring authors—authors who have decided to self-publish as opposed to taking the traditional publishing route, authors who are anxious to get published and naïve about the seamier side of the industry.

You must be an informed consumer when it comes to purchasing publishing services. Here are some things to watch out for before you choose a service to help publish, promote and sell your book.



Letʾs start with some definitions.

Self-publishing has been around for a long time, but until recently, most authors looked to traditional

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