A small request of all my readers …

iitcYes, I know this news is going to be hard to believe, but after 4 years in publication (both as an eBook and in print) Island in the Clouds will finally have a sister-novel to share your shelf or space on your eReader! I finished writing an umpteenth draft of One Woman’s Island a week-and-a-half ago and now it’s in the hands of my editor, Rachel Small. I think at this point in time, after writing and rewriting the story of Mariana on Bequia these past 12 years, I’m more relieved than excited. Now comes the ultra hard work of preparing the final edited manuscript for ePublication, sometime later this year.onewomanisland-cover-draft-3

That publication date has been moved back further, however, because yesterday I discovered this link to a competition for which the new novel qualifies. But the novel needs to be unpublished. Might as well give that a shot first, I thought. What is there to lose? Other than more time before I can actually publish it.

18598024So, while I wait for the edit to be completed and the MS to be prepared for submission to this contest, I figured it was as good a time as any to promote my writing in general, and build more awareness of the Bequia Perspectives Novels as well as my IslandShorts novella, That Last Summer. And this brings me around to my “request” in the blog post title …

If you have read either Island in the Clouds or That Last Summer (or both!) and enjoyed reading them – but you haven’t yet posted a review online about either, I would appreciate you doing so now, on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, your library’s website, or your own blog. I’m hoping to build up awareness for my writing in general so when I begin promoting the publication of One Woman’s Island I have a solid fan base in place who will do the heavy-lifting of informing and, hopefully, exciting different readers about the new book. If you have already posted something to do with me or my writing on your own blog I have likely added that link to this page or this one. If your interview or review are not listed there, please let me know so I can include you.IS

Now, I know some readers are shy and don’t want their thoughts and opinions posted in public, and especially not online. I appreciate and understand that feeling! If you have read my books though and enjoyed them enough to want to tell me about that enjoyment, then please send me an email (susanmtoy (at) gmail.com). Your review can be as brief as you’d like to make it. And I promise never to divulge your name if you want to remain anonymous, but do let me know if I may post and quote your comments on my blog – without your name attached! – so potential readers have a chance to see what “someone” thinks of my books and my writing. Whatever you decide, please do write and tell me whatever it is that you think. The best way for any author to improve is to listen to comments made by their readers. After all, it’s you we’re writing for in the first place!

What I hope to achieve by all this, of course, is a build-up of word-of-mouth promotion. You who are already satisfied readers will become, I hope, the foot soldiers in my campaign to promote the new book. If you DO want me to quote you in future publicity then let me know I may use your name. A review with a real name has so much more credibility, and I’ll be using the best of those as bullets (not real gun bullets, of course!) and endorsements when I finally do release the next book in my Bequia series.

The other way for you to become involved in this promotion campaign of mine is by telling your friends about my books, and encouraging them to read what I’ve already published. Then, if they like what they read, they will anticipate the future publication of my books. A readership is something we authors build one reader at a time … and by writing books readers enjoy reading.

So thanks to everyone for reading through my post, and for any help you may be able to offer.

And remember … I am but one author out here who is writing and publishing. There are many, many others who can also use a hand in the promotion of their books. Never discount the effect your personal recommendation has on any book you read and enjoy. Please don’t keep that enjoyment to yourself – tell others about it! An author’s success may just depend on your initial recommendation! (I feel so strongly about this concept that I created the Reading Recommendations blog.) And for those of you who would like to take this a step or two further, here are 99 Ways to Spread the Word About a Book You Love.

Thanks for reading – and commenting and reviewing! I could never have come this far without all of you loyal readers, and I appreciate every single one of you!


Guest Post: Rick Bergh on How Our Children’s Books Ended Up in Haiti

Rick Bergh has been featured previously on Reading Recommendations, first in March 2016 and again in April. He’s back now to tell us how it is that his children’s books are now being read by Haitian children!

Rick and Erica Bergh

Rick and Erica Bergh

How Our Children’s Books Ended Up in Haiti

I love how life surprises us when we least expect it.

My wife, Erica, and I had completed two of our children’s books and brought them to our annual Boxing Day gathering – a wonderful family tradition on my mother’s side, which I have not missed in 56 years.

My cousin, Mark, purchased a few copies of these books (after all, you expect your family to buy your books, right?).

Little did I know those children’s books would find their way to an orphanage in Haiti! All the way from Calgary, Alberta!

Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s no big deal …” But it was for me. Let me explain.

Over ten years ago, my daughter, Keeara, went to volunteer at the very same orphanage – she was an 18-year-old girl trying to figure out her next step in life. Her time in Haiti coincided with her mom’s struggle with cancer. So the whole family was in transition and wondering what the future would hold.

Pam, her mom, said “Keeara, go and volunteer at this orphanage.” She did and it changed her life forever. She became an elementary school teacher as a result.

Fast forward 11 years and my cousin’s daughter, Emily, is now volunteering at the same orphanage. We did not make the connection until I asked Emily what orphanage she was going to and it was the exact same one where Keeara had worked.

IMG_6067WOW! So, now Emily is reading these stories to the children – the same stories that I made up and told to my children, including Keeara. Our next book due to be published soon is actually about Keeara (Stretchy Cheese Pizza) and her son, Connor.

And now Emily was reading these same stories I told our children when they lay in bed asking me to tell them a story. Fascinating that it was not long ago when an 18-year-old-Keeara was reading books to these special children in Haiti. And now, they will soon be reading stories about her and her son, Connor.

We are sending copies over for the children in Haiti to read as soon as the new book is published in June. The stories come full circle!


Bob Van Laerhoven – “Brussels, You’re Very Sick”

I’ve received permission from Belgian author Bob Van Laerhovenh to repost something he wrote in a newsletter sent out yesterday to his subscribers that I found to be poignant and insightful. He had recently written a guest post for the site Murder is Everywhere about the terrorist attacks on Brussels on March. 22. There’s a link below to this article, “Brussels, You’re Very Sick”. I urge you all to take some time and read what Bob has to say, because he knows of what he speaks – Bio below**. (Bob was previously promoted on Reading Recommendations in April 2015.)


In my guest blog “Brussels, You’re Very Sick,” written last week and published on Saturday 9/04 on the international blog site Murder is Everywhere, I asked myself if Belgium will be able to cope adequately with the “new reality” after the terrorist attacks on 22/03 in Brussels Airport and the metro of Maelbeek.

Coping with the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks has to be done quickly, because, in the aftermath of the tragedy, it became clear that Belgium, although a “logical target” for Islam extremists, was very ill prepared for an attack. In the world press, Brussels got nicknamed the “European capital of Jihadists,” when it became clear that Belgium’s State Security Department hadn’t noticed that, right under its nose, in some of the rather sinister municipalities of Brussels, a network of Islam terrorists had planned attacks in Europe, gathered weapons and raw materials for bombs, and studied possible targets. Belgium was labeled a “failed state.”

In the light of the arrests since Saturday 9/04, and the dismantling of the terrorist network in Brussels, it seems that Belgium has learned its lesson fast.


Because, in the wake of the new arrests, stories simmer of Jihadists who had been identified for quite some time but left undisturbed by the Belgian Police, some of them even arrested before, but set free again.

I know it’s easy to critique police work, and successes have been achieved, but it can’t be a coincidence that Brussels was chosen by Jihadists to prepare for their apocalyptical delusions.

One thing is for sure: after some 70 years of peace, Belgium, just like the rest of the European Union, is entering a situation that will definitely affect our society, our politics, our values, our way of life, and our security.

Kind regards,

Bob Van Laerhoven – Belgium

**A fulltime Belgian/Flemish author, I made my debut as a novelist in 1985 with the novel Nachtspel (Night Game) and quickly became known in Flanders for my ‘un-Flemish’ style and my kaleidoscopic novels in which the fate of the individual is closely related to broad social transformations. I became a full-time author in 1991. As a freelance travel writer I explored conflicts and trouble-spots across the globe from 1990 to 2003: Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Lebanon, Mozambique, Burundi… to name but a few.

During the Bosnian war I spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later I was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. I was the first writer from the Low Countries who had the opportunity to speak with the refugees. These conversations resulted in a travel book: Srebrenica – getuigen van massamoord (Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder). The book denounces the murder and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. I concluded that mass murders took place, a notion that was questioned at the time but later was proven accurate.

Zika, we hardly knew you …

And thank goodness for that, I say!

I’ll be leaving Bequia in less than two weeks, after having been here for nearly 6 months. When I arrived last October, everyone was extremely concerned about a new mosquito-borne virus making its way through South America and that was expected to pose a threat shortly within the Caribbean region.

We all did what we could (well, most people on the island did) to clean up our properties, to make sure there was no standing water in which mosquitoes could breed. There were island-wide cleanups organized, and people really did seem to be consciously trying to combat the threat of a new virus (too many of us had suffered from Chikungunya two years ago and we didn’t want a repeat!), so it looked as though we might have it beat.

Unfortunately, the government’s way of dealing with mosquitoes is to fog with chemicals … which they have done far too many times this past year. It’s an unnecessary expense and the mosquitoes are still here. Everything else, though is effectively affected, including the honey bees. I spoke with a Bequia apiarist last week who told me he had lost more than a third of his bee population and honey production has been way down. He hasn’t been able to supply local stores at all lately. He also said he noticed the Bequia Sweet birds (grackles) had disappeared from his part of Bequia, but there was one in a tree by our verandah just now, so I know they have not been decimated.

There have been attempts made to breed out the particular type of mosquito carrying all these viruses, but that’s more of a long-term proposition. The one way to ensure the immediate eradication is to clean up the island. We did go through a period earlier in the winter, when the Christmas winds blew strong, that we saw fewer mosquitoes around our house … but recently the numbers have been increasing again. A neighbour did discover a large source of standing water filled with mosquito larvae at a property that has been sitting empty for a number of years. Once that was dealt with we noticed the numbers of mosquitoes are dwindling again.

Anyway, that’s my report – and it’s why I’ve written so little about Zika over the past few months. It’s been a non-issue in SVG, with only one case reported, on Union Island, about a month or so ago. This “new” virus certainly did not ravage the population as Chikungunya did.

And speaking of which … I’ve been experiencing Chikungunya-related pain again recently in my shoulder, and I’ve spoken with and heard from others who still have not shaken the symptoms of that nasty virus. No wonder we were all so worried about another virus threat! I for one don’t think I could ever go through that agony again. That was totally debilitating!

So it was with great joy and relief I discovered the following article about a possible means of combatting these pesky mosquitoes. Ironically, it’s a method developed at Laurentian University, in Sudbury where Dennis and I both lived for a time. It’s cheap, it uses recyclable materials, and it’s proving to be more effective than other methods. I’ve passed on the article to people on Bequia who are committed to finding a way of permanently dealing with this mosquito problem.

Here’s hoping it will work on Bequia!

Canadian team set to turn tires against Zika virus

The ovillanta design. Photo courtesy Daniel Pinelo.

The ovillanta design. Photo courtesy Daniel Pinelo.

On reading …

This will be the first in a series of posts I’ll be writing as I research and delve into the subject of READING. I’d like to cover the how, what, when, where, why of something absolutely essential that I do every day, and I know many of you do, as well. Hey! You’re reading this right now, aren’t you? I’ll also be covering the last of the 5 Ws – Who is reading.

For so so many of us, reading is akin to breathing!

The plan is to offer interesting articles for everyone to consider, and possibly comment upon, here on my blog. But the big picture is to eventually use the research into all these articles and books on reading and how people learn to read, your comments you make on the blog (I’ll always ask your permission first before quoting you!), and thoughts I have. Then I will do further research into the topic of learning to read – eventually putting it all together into book form (likely as an eBook first).

I’m not sure whether I mentioned this before on the blog, but I had planned on focusing my efforts on Readers from here on in, rather than the writing process, editing, publishing, promoting and marketing – because there are so many bloggers and experts out there who cover these topics very well indeed. So I will instead concentrate on discovering what it is Readers like to read, where they are located (those who are reading in English, primarily) and how to find them, so that all Authors may better tailor what we create for those Readers’ benefit and how we can attract them. It’s essentially a different approach to marketing that I’m offering to explore with this focus.

So I hope you’ll come along with me for the ride as I research and write about Reading. I’m excited, because after all I am a Reader first and an author second, so I have a vested interest in both covers of a book, so to speak. I do already have a good idea of what makes me tick as a reader – what I’m attracted by and what makes me want to read a particular book. So now I’d like to discover what other Readers like to read, as well as how, when, where, why they read, and who these readers are in the first place.

Here’s an article to get the conversation started:

Taught to pass tests, they don’t know how to read books

And, if anyone discovers any articles at all on reading that you believe will be of interest to me and to my research, please send me an email with the link (susanmtoy (at) gmail.com).

And now …


Not quite a coffee farmer … yet

Almost two-and-a-half years ago, Dennis became interested in growing coffee and wrote this blog post, Roasting coffee beans in a pizza oven on Bequia, for me. That proved to be a very popular post, as a matter of fact! Then last Sept., we wrote another post on the coffee bean production here at The View: An update on roasting coffee beans in a pizza oven on Bequia.

So here we are, another 7 months later, and we have good news! No, don’t run away to plug in your grinder and boil water just yet! But there have been significant developments in the two surviving bushes in our garden, as shown in the following photos …



Although perhaps this development is not fast-enough for Dennis’s liking.


A farmer out standing in his field …

He did manage to harvest a few beans from the first growth last fall, though … about 3 or 4 “cherries”, to be precise. And once they were dried and ready, they were planted in Jan., and have been slowly growing into 8 more coffee bushes that will eventually be planted out sometime later in the year – or possibly next spring. A coffee drinker needs the patience of Job to be able to withstand the waiting time it takes to grow enough beans just for one pot of coffee!!

8 Jan 16 0948 Jan 16 095DSC00685

Resources for Authors …

I’ve gathered together the Best of the Best! Here’s a list of bloggers – friends of this site, every one! – who offer services to authors, mainly in the area of promotion (guest blogs, reviews, interviews), but also design covers design, create trailers, and edit. Most of these services are free, but for some there is a charge. With the exception of Chris The Story Reading Ape, all are authors themselves, and they have been promoted on my own blog, Reading Recommendations. I’ve included links back to their promotions on my blog. I encourage you to check out their blog links to see what they have to offer, and also buy and read their books, while you’re at it!

tsra-sketch-02-1024x684 Chris Graham (Friend to all Indie Authors!) – Chris The Story Reading Ape

Seumas Gallacheron Reading Recommendations fd96ze6tg1l3gzy1ha93

11942321_415085482024566_2343643988952741064_o Sally CroninSmorgasboard – Variety is the Spice of Life

Tricia DrammehAuthors to Watch me

logo Janice SpinaJemsBooks

Allan HudsonSouth Branch Scribbler 12821608_1743938849173975_3479675423719876312_n

me Don MassenzioAuthor Talk

Kevin BrennanScribable: Indie Editing Service sonoma-county Kevin also posts a lot of great information on his blog about writing, publishing and the direction we’re moving in with regards to creating books and finding readers for them.

If you’d like to be listed on a future blog post and outline services you offer to authors (and I’d particularly like to list book reviewers here) please let me know your link (email me at susanmtoy (at) gmail.com) and tell me what it is you can do for us. If you’ve already been promoted on Reading Recommendations … Bonus!

Are you Passionate?

Thanks, once again, to Chris The Story Reading Ape for putting my thoughts into a meme for me to post here.


It is not my intention to judge anyone by posting this meme. I do hope, however, that everyone will give some thought as to the real reason they began creating in the first place.

An experimental way to publish a novel, or, “artificial dissemination”

From Kevin Brennan … on an interesting promotion/publication idea he and I were discussing recently.



I have an interesting idea a-brewing. A mere notion at this point. Maybe a whim, an impulse. Possibly just a funny feeling.

I was chatting with Susan Toy recently about book marketing and how difficult it is, and I mentioned that I’d just about had it with all the usual methods. It’s pretty clear that social media isn’t ideal for it because everyone sees you as spamming. And blogs are great for your brand, but potential book readers don’t really flock to your blog and then run out to buy your stuff. Advertising is expensive. Bookstores don’t like indies. Your friends and family can only do so much for you, word-of-mouth-wise.

In short, it’s hard out there for a book pimp.

So I told Susan that I was this close to putting a book out one copy at a time to readers who would accept a “pay what you want”…

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THREE Trailers showing #TSRA Hall of Fame #Authors – A Blogaversary Present…

Wowee!! Congratulations to The Big Ape, Chris The Story Reading Ape, on three years of blogging and promoting all of us authors!! We love you, Chris, for all your support and enthusiasm, and many of us (I know, me included!) would not be where we are on the internet today without all the help you have so generously extended to the community. I’m making arrangements for an entire Geest Line shipload of bananas to be delivered direct to your door very soon!! Happy Anniversary!!!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

In thanks for all those authors who have supported and contributed to The Story Reading Ape’s Blogfor the past THREE YEARS, (Blogaversary TODAY), I thought it would be nice for you to be recognised AND to give you something you can display on your own blogs and websites…


Here are THREE Author Hall of Fame Promo Trailers (with music Tracks) that you are FREE to use, refer or link to, reblog, tweet, share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, StumbleUponand many other places.

If you can’t remember when you first entered the Hall of Fame, go to it HERE, find YOUR name, click on it, and see the date (top of article) your Guest Author article was posted.

NOTE: If you posted updated or other articles after the first one, find the links to the previous ones in the latest article revealed and follow all…

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