Sharon Clark has lived in Alberta for over 50 years. Born in Medicine Hat to an Air Force father, Sharon moved with her family to a number of bases across Canada during her childhood. She eventually settled in Calgary. The first books she was introduced to in elementary school, the Dick and Jane series, began her lifelong love of reading. As a pre-teen, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Cherry Ames were all favourites that she devoured over summer holidays. At about the age of 13, she submitted comments about an article in a previous issue to Ingenue Magazine. She was thrilled the magazine published what she wrote and this began her love of writing.
Sharon has had four children. Her first book, Not Our Baby was published in 1984 by Detselig Enterprises (now Temerin Books). She wrote it after her first-born child, a boy, died of a brain tumour just before his second birthday. This devastating experience made her want to work in cancer research. So, when her youngest daughter began Grade 1, she returned to university to obtain a degree in Cell, Microbial and Molecular Biology. The degree allowed her to follow her dream and she worked for seventeen years in cancer or immunology labs.
During Sharon’s research career, an idea for a novel formed, persisted and pestered her. Finally, she relented and began writing Timelag, a novel about a researcher who discovers a gene that controls the aging process. Then in order to test the topic’s appeal and her writing abilities, she decided to submit a few chapters to a contest (inspired by Susan Toy) called Coffee Shop Author. She was surprised and thrilled to win second prize, which was a weekend writers’ conference in Fernie, British Columbia. Winning the prize was a validation of the novel’s potential, so she renewed efforts to finish it. Unfortunately, the death of her second child in 2013, her oldest daughter, brought the project to an abrupt halt. The grueling task of writing and editing the novel became impossible.
Yet, keeping her mind busy became imperative to retaining her sanity. Over the next few years, she wrote a series of fun science (nature) and math books for elementary school-aged children. Two of them won Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards and her last book, 11X Magic, also won Finalist in the Book Excellence Awards.
Since retiring from the University of Calgary, Sharon continues to live in Calgary and now spends most of her time marketing her children’s books.
I first met Sharon Clark when she entered Coffee Shop Author the second year the contest ran and won second place. But I had already heard about Sharon and, more importantly, of the strength of her writing, from Betty Jane Hegerat (previously promoted in this A-RI Series) with whom Sharon was studying creative writing at the University of Calgary. Sharon went on after the contest to publish five fun and educational picture books for kids, and has continued to receive recognition for her work through these books. (I really hope Sharon will one day complete her novel Timelag. I want to know how that story ends!)
A Children’s Picture Book That Makes Math exciting by showing some cool secrets
for multiplying by 11
Educational Science (Math) Series
Pinnacle Book Achievement Award
Finalist-Book Excellence Awards
This award-winning book will appeal to any child between the ages of 7 to 10. Inside, a wizard shows the magic of 11X math of one-digit, two-digit and three-digit numbers, by revealing some amazing tricks to help kids find the solutions easily and without the use of a calculator.
Children will be able to amaze friends by obtaining the answers using only mental math. But best of all – kids will see that math can not only be magical, but also FUN!
For information on Sharon Clark’s books and how to order them, please see her website.
Thank you to Betty Jane Hegerat for her very generous and kind words!
In the process of culling a lot of other possessions to make for a less cluttered home, I eventually ended up at the bookcases. Some years back, it seemed like sacrilege—me, professing to be a disciple of words and story—to discard books. Pass along so others can enjoy them, donate to book sales, pack away in boxes to be reconsidered “at another time.” Among my treasures, though, were lovely hard cover editions of the likes of Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, To the Lighthouse, The Prophet, The Velveteen Rabbit—you know the ones that are on a special shelf, and in my house, for the most part, gathering dust. Surely there were people to whom I could gift these treasures. When I opened them and turned the pages, they gave off the undeniable scent of “old”; musty dry pages, occasionally a crumbling flower pressed between them, cracked…
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Betty Boyd Caroli
A graduate of Oberlin College, Betty Caroli holds a master’s degree in Mass Communications from the Annenberg School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in American Civilization from New York University. A Fulbright scholar to Italy, she also held fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Hoover Presidential Library, the LBJ Foundation, and others. After studying in Salzburg, Austria and Perugia, Italy (but before joining the faculty at the City University of New York), she taught in Palermo and Rome, Italy.
Caroli’s book tour promoting Lady Bird and Lyndon took her to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas; to Dallas, where she spoke to an audience of 650 as part of the Authors Live! Series; to the Paragraphs Bookstore in Mt. Vernon, Ohio; to audiences in New York City, where she spoke at the 92nd Street Y, the New-York Historical Society, and the NYU Biography Seminar; to Washington, D.C., where she appeared at the National Archives and on Chris Matthews’ Hardball; to Missouri for talks at the St. Louis County Library and the Kansas City Public Library; to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Town Hall in Seattle, Washington; the Atlanta History Center in Georgia, and the Louisville Public Library in Kentucky.
Betty Boyd Caroli is a First Lady biographer and formerly Professor of History at City University of New York. Her previous works include Roosevelt Women, Immigrants Who Returned Home, and Inside the White House.
She currently resides in New York City and Venice, Italy.
And I met Betty Caroli on Bequia, where she, her sister, and both their husbands at one time owned a house together. Recently, Betty has been returning to Bequia every year for a few weeks, and has stayed in a rental house located just below ours, so we’ve managed to keep in touch. Betty’s sister, Lois Boyce, is also a great reader, and whenever we’ve gotten together, especially with Felicity Harley (who I previously promoted on A-RI), we definitely have a lot to talk about! So I am very much looking forward to Betty, Livio, and Lois’s next visit, and I hope we may organize some kind of promotion while Betty is here for we authors and our books. (Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to experiment with that “literary salon podcast” idea I’ve been rolling around in my head …)
Lady Bird and Lyndon
Marriage is the most underreported story in political life, yet it is often the key to its success. Historian Betty Boyd Caroli spent seven years exploring the archives of the LBJ Library, interviewing dozens of people, and mining never-before-released letters between Lady Bird and Lyndon. The result “redefines the First Lady as an iron fist in a white glove” (Vanity Fair) and helps explain how the talented, but flawed Lyndon Baines Johnson ended up making history.
Lady Bird grew up the daughter of a domineering father and a cultured but fragile mother. When a tall, pushy Texan named Lyndon showed up in her life, they married within weeks with a tacit agreement: this highly gifted politician would take her away, and she would save him from his weaknesses. The conventional story goes that Lyndon married Lady Bird for her money and demeaned her by flaunting his many affairs, and that her legacy was protecting the nation’s wildflowers. But Caroli shows that she was also the one who swooped in to make the key call to a donor, to keep the team united, to campaign in hostile territory, and to jump-start Lyndon out of his paralyzing dark moods.
In Lady Bird and Lyndon, Caroli restores Lady Bird to her rightful place in history. But she also tells a love story whose compromises and edifying moments many women will recognize.
This “smartly written…stunning” (The Boston Globe) portrait of Lady Bird as the essential strategist, fundraiser, barnstormer, and ballast for her husband Lyndon offers “a penetrating analysis…of a marriage that paired two complicated but devoted figures, a coupling that changed the face of America” (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
Here’s a video of Betty Caroli speaking about the book, Lady Bird and Lyndon.
Betty Caroli has recently updated and reissued the fifth edition of First Ladies: The Ever Changing Role, published by Oxford University Press. “Betty Boyd Caroli’s engrossing and informative First Ladies is both a captivating read and an essential resource for anyone interested in the role of America’s First Ladies. Caroli observes the role as it has shifted and evolved from ceremonial backdrop to substantive world figure. This expanded and updated fifth edition presents Caroli’s keen political analysis and astute observations of recent developments in First Lady history, including Melania Trump’s reluctance to take on the mantle and former First Lady Hilary Clinton’s recent run for president. Caroli here contributes a new preface and updated chapters.
For more information about Betty Caroli and her books, please see her website
I promoted Tim Baker on Dec. 30th as part of my Authors-Readers International series. He’s now offering a free download of one of his novels. so you have a chance to read, for free, and see why I’ve been raving about this guy and his writing all these years!
It’s been a while since I gave away a book – and because a reader left a very nice review of Eyewitness Blues on Amazon today let’s give that one away!
First things first…here is the review:
As any author (independent or otherwise) will tell you – getting a nice review is (in my best Rhode Island vernacular) wicked awesome! It’s arguably why we write…it’s at least one of the top reasons. I wish I could personally thank each and every person who leaves a review, but Amazon keeps the reviewer’s identity private. So this is my way of saying thank you!
About Eyewitness Blues…I remember the moment I came up with the “what if” for the story;
The owner of a local pizza parlor had been arrested for assault after attacking a customer who tried to return a calzone. Come to find out – said pizza parlor…
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Paul F. Butler
Paul Butler’s fiction is often “historical” in setting but also speaks directly to the twenty-first century whether exploring a Victorian missionary’s desire to replicate his own image in The Good Doctor (2014), the contradictions that lay behind early twentieth century notions of courage and cowardice in Titanic Ashes (2012) or our collective desire to both venerate and scapegoat the memory of woman in NaGeira (2006) in seventeenth century Ireland, England and Newfoundland. Butler’s work has appeared on the judges’ lists for Canada Reads, the Relit Longlist for three consecutive years (2011 for Cupids; 2010 for Hero; and 2009 for 1892), the Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards shortlist and he was a winner in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Awards four times between 2003 and 2008 at which time he retired from the competition to be literary representative, and then chair, of the Arts and Letters Committee. He was born in the UK, emigrated to Canada in 1994, settling in Newfoundland. As an editor and creative writing coach he has for fifteen years run both live and online courses with a special focus on the novel. He recently moved his business, HB Creativity, to Lethbridge, Alberta.
I was the Alberta sales representative for Nimbus Publishing and Vagrant Press when Paul Butler published his novel Hero. I REALLY enjoyed reading this, at the time, new-to-me author and promoted the novel to my customers like crazy! I enjoyed reading this book so much that I “hand-sold” it not only to my bookstore and library customers, but also other reader friends I knew would enjoy it just as much as I had. When I began promoting Alberta authors directly and kind of lost touch with Paul over the next years. However, when I heard that he was publishing new novels, and re-issuing Hero, I asked if he would like to be promoted on my Reading Recommendations blog. Then Paul moved to Lethbridge, Alberta (but after I had left the province) so he essentially become an Alberta-based author, although one who was still writing novels set in his first Canadian home-province, Newfoundland. He was also offering online novel-writing tutorials (see link below) and consultations for authors wanting to punch their manuscripts into shape and seek publication. So, while I have not yet met Paul Butler in person, I have been reading his new novels he’s published since Hero, and have enjoyed his writing immensely!
Next up is May 2020 with Inanna Publications (who also published The Widow’s Fire in 2017). This one is called Mina’s Child. The ‘Mina’ of the title is Mina Harker (nee Murray) of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The Harkers when we meet them here are a generation older. They have been through the trauma of the Great War and have lost a son, named Quincey after the Texan Quincey Morris who features in Bram Stoker’s Gothic tale. The tale is largely told from Abree Harker’s point of view. Abree, as the title suggests, is daughter to Jonathan and Mina Harker. She has a serious case of survivor guilt at having missed the war which killed her brother, and she is skeptical about her parents’ tale of an evil foreign count or anything that suggests such a clear dividing line between good and evil.
“Mina’s Child imagines a second generation springing from the “heroes” in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In 1921, Mina and Jonathan Harker’s daughter, Abree, a student at King’s College, London, starts to question the extraordinary adventures her parents’ claim to have experienced in England and the Carpathians. Middle-aged Jonathan Harker is haunted by nightmares that Abree assumes to be about her brother, Quincey, killed in the Great War. As the Harkers follow the thread of their unease back to its source, they are haunted by memories of Lucy Westenra, fiancée to Arthur Holmwood, and the manner of Lucy’s death. Having lost her brother, Quincey, in the Great War, Abree refuses to believe in a clear dividing line between good and evil. Abree suspects her parents’ tales of glory hide a profound sense of guilt, particularly about the unexplained death of their friend, Lucy Westenra. The Harkers’ maid, Jenny, it transpires, has reasons of her own to worry about the chaos in her employer’s household. She is carrying Jonathan’s child, but Harker plans to evade all such responsibilities. Jenny, suddenly unleashed as a destructive force against the household, decides to make the Harkers face their hypocrisy.”
Mina’s Child is available for pre-order from Inanna Publications.
Online Novel Writing Tutorial Series – any location: The course is presently full but a limited number of spaces are expected to open up by March 20, 2020. Estimated duration of the course is 8-12 weeks, but pacing is up to your discretion and follows your schedule, providing it takes no more than 12 months (one year) after signup to complete. This can be ideal for those who are working on, or mulling over, a manuscript while traveling or working on other things.
Description: start when you like, work at your own pace and receive extensive evaluation and advice based on your writing. The Online Novel Writing Tutorial Series is designed for writers who want a significant portion of a draft of their novel, or non-fiction project, completed by the end of the course. Feedback will cover all the aspects of plot/structure, narrative style, tense, point of view, dialogue, and we will work on plot development to make sure that you are keeping reader interest. For more details or to register click here.
For more information about Paul Butler, his writing, publications, tutorials, and consultations, please see his website.
Darcie has been a food columnist for the Kelowna Daily Courier and Kamloops This Week as well as The Prairie Post, thepeartree.ca, Calgary Beacon and Surrey Beacon. Darcie’s first book of short fictions, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was published by Thistledown Press in September 2010. As the book was being completed, Susan Musgrave was Darcie’s editor, helping to weed out the flowers (the dandelions stayed). Mennonites Don’t Dance was shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Prize and was a runner-up for the 2011 Danuta Gleed Literary Award.
Individual stories published before the book include “Ashes,” which appeared in Half in the Sun: anthology of Mennonite writing (Ronsdale Press), edited by Mennonite poet Elsie K. Neufeld. “Loft” was printed by Rhubarb magazine in January ’08; “Little Lamb” in Prairie Journal, November ’08. “Little Lamb” was also nominated for the McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. “Dandelion Wine” and “Ashes” placed 3rd and 2nd, respectively, in the Okanagan Short Fiction Contest (University of British Columbia-Okanagan).
Born Darcie Coralee Sayler (1974) in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Darcie lived with her mother until she was thirteen, visiting her grandparents on their farm in Schoenfeld, SK, most weekends. She lived with her father in Calgary, then Kelowna, through high school, before marrying her high school sweetheart, Dean Hossack, when she was nineteen. Friesen, her mother’s maiden name, was chosen as a pen name to honour her Mennonite grandparents. She has a sister, Daphne, who’s responsible for a few of the best lines in Mennonites Don’t Dance (though neither sister can remember now which ones they are). The sisters also have a younger brother.
Though Darcie converted to the Seventh Day Adventist religion of her father’s family for several years, she returned to the Mennonite Brethren faith some time after beginning work on the stories in Mennonites Don’t Dance. Being Mennonite, with its accompanying experiences of farm and food, shaped much of the author’s deep faith and love of land (even though she’s never successfully grown anything in dirt). Growing up in cities, Darcie has never had to kill a chicken, though she’s plucked more than a few, and once brought a pig’s snout to school for show and tell.
Mennonites Don’t Dance has been both celebrated and censured in the diverse Mennonite community since its release. For the most part, though, it has been graciously received. When asked whether the stories are, in fact, thinly-veiled memoir, Darcie often replies, cryptically, that, “Sometimes the stories that are most true are also the most fictional.”
I met Dacie Hossack when we were both online students in the Humber School for Writers Programme … but we bonded on the student chat board! Those early exchanges involved discussions about food, specifically white chocolate and berry scones and an exchange of recipes, if I remember correctly. We quickly realized that while we come from different backgrounds, are separated in age by a couple of decades and (at that time) several thousand miles physically – not to mention that Darcie’s writing is leaps-and-bounds more accomplished than mine, we definitely clicked, and became fast friends all those years ago. We didn’t have the opportunity to meet in person until a number of years later, when Darcie published Mennonites Don’t Dance and came to Calgary for promotion. I wrote about that encounter here on my blog in the post, I met my best friend for the first time (which still stands today as the second-most popular post on my blog, after one I wrote on making pizza in a pizza oven …) I also posted a photo essay of that day with writing pals because we met with other authors and did some fun foodie things, like visit a chocolate shop where Darcie posed with the sacks of cocoa beans piled up behind the front counter.
And about that food connection … Darcie and her Chef-Husband were always interested in my food escapades and experiments whenever I was back on Bequia, and I helped when she received a request from a reader for an extra-sour sourdough recipe – then wrote about it on her own food blog, Nice Fat Gurdie!
Mennonites Don’t Dance
This vibrant collection of short fictions explores how families work, how they are torn apart, and, in spite of differences and struggles, brought back together. Darcie Friesen Hossack’s stories in Mennonites Don’t Dance offer an honest, detailed look into the experiences of children—both young and adult — and their parents and grandparents, exploring generational ties, sins, penance and redemption.
Taking place primarily on the Canadian prairies, the families in these stories are confronted by the conflict between tradition and change — one story sees a daughter-in-law’s urban ideals push and pull against a mother’s simple, rural ways, in another, a daughter raised in the Mennonite tradition tries to break free from her upbringing to escape to the city in search of a better life. Children learn the rules of farm life, and parents learn that their decisions, in spite of all good intentions, can carry dire consequences.
Hossack’s talent, honed through education and experience, is showcased in this polished collection, and is reflected in the relatable, realistic characters and situations she creates. The voices in the stories speak about how we measure ourselves in the absence of family, and how the most interesting families are always flawed in some way.
Here’s a link to the review written by Jim Bartley that appeared in The Globe and Mail in Feb. 2011.
What Darcie Hossack is working on now: Darcie’s first (in progress) novel, What Looks In, visits both Mennonite and Seventh Day Adventist faiths, as they clash and intertwine, before and after the loss of a family member. As in Mennonites Don’t Dance, the pages are not without their fill of food.
For information on where to purchase Darcie Hossack’s book, please click on the Thistledown Press website.
this is not a review: this is a list of unexpected literary connections having to do with escape, rum, and well-intentioned budinskis
Thanks to Carin Makuz for this outstanding not-a-review of my novel, “One Woman’s Island”!
Somewhere in the process of my December reading it occurs to me that three very different and unlikely books share a series of similar elements.
Don’t you just love it when that happens, when you think… rum, again?? And it all begins to feel like a kind of reading serendipity is happening.
It begins with The Book of Eve, by Constance Beresford-Howe. Written in 1973… it remains the classic, in my opinion, running away story. Woman fed up with boorish husband, chooses instead to live in a damp bare bones Montreal basement apartment, with a feral cat outside a window that’s impossible to open and a slightly mad, slightly inspiring Hungarian living upstairs. Hard to see as uplifting but of course it is. She is free, not of life’s yins and yangs, but free of those yins and yangs where the source is boorishness and which grate as intolerable…
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On Nov. 29, 2019, I posted to this blog about a new author promotion series I was creating that would run every day throughout the month of Dec. featuring authors I had met (either in person or online) or worked with over the course of my book-business career, and these posts would – hopefully – attract a much-wider, and international-in-scope, readership for everyone involved in the promotion.
Here’s the complete alphabetical list of all authors promoted during the month.
Well, the response to the blog posts far exceeded my expectations! And I know that most of the authors I promoted were thrilled with the exposure they received … because they told me, on social media, in private messages, in emails, and by sharing their posts and those of the other authors with their own readers. My blog stats were WAYYYYY UP over the month of Dec. (Of course, I hadn’t been blogging much at all before I began this series, but the increase in numbers of people reading posts, “liking” them, commenting on them, and sharing increased by great numbers, and, most importantly, attracted a huge number of international readers and from countries that had never paid any previous attention to me or to my blog. This is excellent news not only for me, but for all the authors who I promoted during the month.
I plan to add information about nationalities and where they are living now to the list of authors already promoted. The vast majority of authors I know are Canadian, of course, because that’s where I worked most of my life. But a number of those Canadian authors were not born in Canada, and I’ve met many more authors since that time who reside in other countries, and not just the US and UK either. So those authors and their readers are attracting more international attention to the Canadian authors … and vice versa. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
I was able to check the stats of where people are clicking from whenever they come to my blog and, aside from the few spam comments originating in small African nations that I had to delete, here’s a list of the countries where readers are situated:
Canada, US and UK had far-and-away the largest numbers, and always in that order. But there were also significant numbers (in alphabetical order) from: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Eremites, Uzbekistan.
**Since this post was published, I’ve had hits on my blog from more countries:
Djibouti, Grenada, Peru, Sweden, Venezuela
So, 55 countries altogether! A few were one-offs, but there were multiple clicks for many of these countries over the course of the promotion. The other point I want to mention is that, in the majority of these countries, English is a second language. Even though the majority of authors I promoted so far in this series are English-speaking and write in English, and most of their books have not been translated into other languages, they are still attracting attention from many other places where English is not necessarily the lingua franca. Very interesting, I thought.
Anyway, all-in-all I consider this promotion to have been a success! I hope all the Authors and Readers agree with me! And I plan to continue with it – although not at the frenetic pace of posting one-a-day promotions! I will be posting twice a week now and into the foreseeable future. I know even more authors than those I’ve already promoted, and I’ve sent out notification the the first ten in that list and will begin posting again on Thurs. Jan. 9th and every Monday and Thursday after that.
So … stay tuned! And the very best way to do that, of course, is by subscribing to this blog and signing up in the right-hand column to receive email notification whenever I publish a new post. Or by following me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks again to all the Authors and Readers who have been enthusiastically supporting this series so far! You have truly put the “International” into Authors-Readers International!
(Readers … if you do not see your country listed above, please post a comment below and tell me where you are located.)
This is a test. Do not adjust your sets.
I created a Power Point Presentation in order to see whether:
A) I could still remember how to make one
B) It was a good way of promoting my books and those by other authors
C) I could sort out and put into order some of the ginormous number of photos I’ve taken and received from friends over the years
I could not post the file as-is to social media, so I figured I would post it first to my blog. This way I can also include information about each photo, as adding captions to each individual photo in the presentation itself is far beyond my capabilities!
So click on this link and have a look through the photos. Explanations are below.
(You may need to fiddle with this a bit to get it to run as a slide show …)
Island in the Clouds/One Woman’s Island
- at Malvern Collegiate Institute, Toronto – my high school!
- in a bookstore with Connie Flanagan
- with Darcie Hossack’s literate cat
- with Lori Hanel
- at When Words Collide, Calgary, with the Tropical Shirt Guys
- with Detlef Karthaus and his books
- on editor Rachel Small’s computer screen
- with Margaret Atwood
- Sharon Wilson enjoying an Island in the Clouds Alcoholic Beverage, recipe in One Woman’s Island
- with The Queen’s Bands (photo by Jeff Chan)
- with Ivona Bradley at Lower Bay, Bequia
- at The Lookout Villa, Bequia (owned and operated by Chris-Lou Smullen)
- with my Belgian cousin, Stefaan de Tavenier
- with my sister Betty at Christmas
- with a Klingon, introduced to me by Paul Carreau
This promotion post is dedicated to the memory of my sister, Betty Bridgman, an avid reader all her life, an enthusiastic supporter of my writing and publishing career, and one of my biggest fans.
Susan M. Toy
I have been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and a promoter of fellow authors and their books through my company, Alberta Books Canada. I am also an author and publisher, under my imprints, IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts. Through Alberta Books Canada, I represented authors directly, helping them find promotion for themselves and their books, seeking out new readers, and assisting them in making wise career decisions.
I championed Alberta authors in particular, singing their praises throughout the province and online to the rest of the world, and displayed books for authors and publishers at Alberta library conferences. I continue to promote authors and good books in general, throughout the world and online, with my blog, Reading Recommendations. I created the writing contest, Coffee Shop Author, have sat on the Board of Directors of the Fernie Writers’ Conference, served as a member of the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program steering committee, and was a member of the board of directors for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. I now concentrate on my own writing and publishing, dividing my time between Canada and my home in the Caribbean.
For as long as I know myself … as they say on Bequia, I have been a reader and wanted to be a writer. I was fortunate to have been born in Toronto, in The Beach neighbourhood, where the Toronto Public Library branch was a short walk along Queen Street from our house and only a block away from my grandparents’ house. My mother was an immigrant, along with my grandparents, and spoke and read and wrote in three languages – English, French and Flemish. She wasn’t highly educated, having to leave Grade 9 (at Jarvis Collegiate) due to her health, but she had one more grade of education than Dad, who had to leave school during the depression to work and make money for his family. By the time I came along in 1953, my parents were doing much better financially and, with the help of Grandma, were able to buy a house in The Beach and a cottage north of Toronto on South Lake near Minden. I remember my mother reading books, when she wasn’t knitting, and I have a distinct memory of her standing next to the running washing machine reading a very thumbed-through paperback while she waited for the wash cycle to end. It wasn’t until much later, when I could read myself, that I realized the book was the 1957 novel Mandingo – quite racy at the time! Dad read the newspaper. Every day. And summers spent up at the cottage were filled with long and lazy days of reading books. My younger sister and I were allowed to buy a new comic book every Saturday when we went into town for groceries. I always bought Classics Illustrated, and I still have some of those in my own library! Another book I’ve kept with me since winning it in 1967 upon graduation from Glen Ames Senior Public, is a thesaurus. I’m thinking now that my teachers at the time must have known something more about me than I knew of myself …
In high school, a few of my teachers were extremely influential in my decision to study English Literature at Queen’s University at Kingston. I tried my hand at creative writing both in high school and university, but didn’t get far with that then.
And I also became just slightly distracted by this guy … who has always built bookshelves for me in every place we’ve lived. In a final seminar class my last year at Queen’s, I was the only student who turned up, so the professor and I had a lengthy private chat. He asked what I planned to do with my degree in English. “Oh, probably work in a bookstore,” I told him. And, within days of moving out to Calgary with Dennis in 1978, I managed to land a job – the only one I applied to! – and began working in … a bookstore! And I never looked back. My entire working career has been concentrated on selling books in stores (and my own mail order business, End of the Road Books!), representing publishers to booksellers and libraries, promoting authors, hanging out with authors, organizing and attending “book things” as Dennis always called the many events that were held, giving talks about authors and their books, speaking about promoting books and authors, and then writing and publishing my own books and also publishing books by other authors. Oh, and READING BOOKS! It’s been a totally satisfying life for this particular book-lover, let me tell you!
So this current promotion of authors who I’ve met and/or worked with along the way during my career is a continuation of my belief that we are all in this game together, and we need to be cognoscente of the fact that, if we expose our own readers to the work of other authors, we will broaden the entire reader-base for books in general. The difference in this current Authors-Readers International promotion is the “International” bit. I’ve set my sights on worldwide domination of the book world! (Just kidding! But it does sound like a pretty cool aspiration, doesn’t it?)
That Last Summer
I’m listing here the novella I wrote and published as an eBook only in 2013, because the story is based on a summer during the 60s at a cottage that is quite similar to the one my family owned for more than forty years.
I have also written and published two novels in the Bequia Perspectives series so far: Island in the Clouds and One Woman’s Island. I am currently working on writing two more novels in this series as well as a collection of short stories and novellas.
For more information about Susan M. Toy, her writing, books, publishing, other blogs, and promotion of other authors, please see her website. (Actually, it’s THIS website! So you can just click on any of the pages listed at the top of this post.)