One Woman’s Island – more advance praise!

As I prepare the manuscript to be sent off for eBook formatting and online sales, I’m also receiving great blurbs about the new novel, One Woman’s Island, from advance readers who offered to write a review for promotion purposes.


Great news, Susan Toy fans! The long-awaited sequel to her acclaimed novel, Island in the Clouds, has finally arrived. With a sharp eye for description and a well-tuned ear for dialogue (and local dialect!) Toy tells how a recently widowed Canadian woman moves to the tiny Caribbean island of Bequia to find solace, only to discover it’s not quite the paradise she hoped for. A tasty meal of storytelling that comes with complementary recipes!
~ Brian Brennan, Postmedia newspapers best-selling author

One Woman’s Island blends up a splash of sun and fun, with a hearty dose of reality about island life and its people. Toss in a murder or two and you have the perfect recipe for a memorable visit in paradise. Susan Toy has once again toured us around the island of Bequia, where she’s shown us that all is not as it appears in this lush and tropical setting, and that people often hide their flaws and indiscretions not only from the world, but also from themselves. P.S. I think this book should come with a warning that snacks will be necessary to stave off the hunger incited by the contents!
~ Cheryl Schenk, author of The Stibil Forest Adventures: Little Synni’s Moonlight Mischief

I just finished reading One Woman’s Island and thought it was splendid. Once again, Susan Toy brings the real Bequia to a fictional world and uses that combination to great effect. Toy does a wonderful job with the characters’ emotional lives and backstories, using a certain level of implication about a lot of it, which I always like. This wasn’t just the main character, Mariana’s, romp in Bequia. It was a powerful effort to make sense of her life up till then and to figure out, in many ways, who she really is. It’s a character study and an exploration of a foreign culture, maybe on the order of Under the Tuscan Sun. Congratulations to Susan Toy on another feather in the Bequia Perspectives cap!
~ Kevin Brennan, editor and author of Parts Unknown, Yesterday Road, Occasional Soulmates, Town Father

And here’s the link to a previous review I received from Felicity Harley!

Thanks to all reviewers! I’ll share more reviews and blurbs with you here as I receive them.

Talking about #bookreviews. A collection of great posts on how to get them and how to keep reviewers happy.

These are all excellent ideas on ways writers can get their work reviewed, but first and foremost is … Write a great book! (And for those readers still unsure about actually reviewing the books they read, check out this link to a blog post I have reblogged on Reading Recommendations.)

Lit World Interviews

Hi all:

Recently I’ve read some great posts about reviews: how to get them, how to avoid things that annoy reviewers, and even posts recommending free books on the subject. You might have read them all, but just in case you haven’t, I thought I’d post them here.

How to Get Good Reviews by Theo Rogers (remember to check the price!) How to Get Good Reviews by Theo Rogers (remember to check the price!)

The first one that came to my attention was a post by Nicholas Rossi, where he mentioned a free book  (this one ) that was still free when I wrote this post but do make sure that’s still the case, and also some updates on other interesting sounding books on similar topics. You can check Nicholas Rossi’s post here. Do follow his blog if you haven’t as he shares a wealth of knowledge and is a great writer.

That post resulted in a comment by Beetley…

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A new story by Michael Fay!

island shorts II

IslandShorts has just finished preparing another ePublication of a long-form short story written by J. Michael Fay!

Human Powered Design is formatting the eBooks and will list them for sale online.

As with Michael’s other publications, once again the original cover art was provided by Karen Sloan of Wallflower Studio Art in Minden, ON.


The incomparable Rachel Small, Faultless Finish Editing, provided the final editing and proofing services.

Here’s the synopsis, Michael’s bio, and an advance-reader blurb:

Dan James graduates from college in 1967, a time of major conflicts in the US, when friends are being drafted to fight in the war in Vietnam. Dan, however, chooses to become involved in a different fight, one for human rights. He eventually heads north to Canada, a place where he can pursue a life working for the betterment of all. But also a place where the conflicts turn out to be much more personal.

Draft Dodger? is the next in Michael Fay’s series of long-form short stories, following Passion, The Whirlabout and The Healer. Along with Tenderness, all have been published by IslandShorts.

Michael Fay studied creative writing with W. O. Mitchell, Alice Munro, and Richard Ford and was also the founder of the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society in Calgary. Michael lives in Minden, Ontario, with his wife, Dr. Fay Martin.

Sparkling dialogue and detailed scenes evoke the 1960s in this tale of tested loyalties – loyalties to friends, to country, and to ideals. The Vietnam War overshadows two young men’s dreams, from the white columns of the graduation prom to the red blood of cracked heads at a demonstration, as boyhood rivals Dan and Graham trade quips, barbs and lovers. ~ Penney Kome, author and journalist

From the perspective of today, we look back on the sixties with nostalgia … free love, demos in the streets, back to the land communes and so much more. But often, the vision, as seen through the six decades that separate us from those days, play tricks with our memory. Writer Michael Fay brings it all back into sharp focus showing us the disappointments, the illusions and tempered idealism that was in fact the reality in the season of Peace Love and Rock n Roll.
~ Jack Brezina, retired editor and publisher

We’re just waiting for a few more bits of information to come in before pressing the “Publish” button. If you’re interested in this new eBook by Michael Fay, please stay tuned and check back to this blog where we’ll be announcing the exact publishing date and availability online, once we have all the links and information.

Please check out the previous publications from IslandShorts by clicking here for the list of eBooks and where to purchase. As we like to say …

For a Great Read, Slip Into Our Shorts!

(If you would like to read to review any of our publications please contact me directly: susanmtoy (at)

Ask for a meme …

And Ye shall receive!

Especially when it’s being asked of the wonderful Chris Graham, or as we all fondly know him,
The Story Reading Ape!

After I posted that last blog about reading well-written books, I asked Chris if he would be able to create several memes using (somewhat) pithy statements I made in the post. And, likity-split!, here they are:

Original photo by Jamie Taylor

Original photo by Andrew Neel

Original photo by Kari Shea

And here’s some information from Chris about these memes:

All background images are adapted from free photos from (original photos by those noted below memes)

Memes made by Chris Graham – TSRA PROMO GRAPHICS & VISUALS – Check out the services Chris offers to Indie Authors!

Please feel free to share these memes, but remember to give credit where credit is due (as above).

Why not read books simply because they’re well-written?

Not because they’re written by a man or a woman,

Or by a non-white or a person of a particular ethnic group,

Or written by someone from a specific country … or not THAT SAME country, yet again.

Or because someone else has told us that we MUST read it, or it has won a big award. (Awards are not always the best indicator of the quality of the writing.)


Why not read a book that’s from a different genre than you usually read?

Or non-fiction instead of fiction (or vice versa), poetry instead of memoir, children’s books (to recapture your childhood!) instead of academic and scholarly.

Or how about choosing a book with a different setting, one you’re not familiar with, or possibly a setting that doesn’t exist in this world at all?

Or read a book about people and events you don’t relate to in your life, but instead one that introduces you to new experiences and new people, new possibilities.

Leave your comfort zone behind … Read dangerously!

Don’t read a book because you’re told it’s the next Gone Girl or Girl on a Train. Harry Potter or Twilight.
(You do realize that these are marketing ploys dreamed up by publishers to encourage more sales, right? That’s what bestseller lists are all about. Or “If you liked this then you will like that …” all to convince you to try something you may not have otherwise picked up, simply because it compares favourably to something you’ve already enjoyed.)

Why not read a book BECAUSE it’s unique, it’s different from what you normally read, and is written by a new-to-you author?

What’s so wrong, or scary, about that?

I’m suggesting you reconsider your criteria for choosing what to read next and go with a book you have heard is simply well-written instead of for the reasons listed above.

Perhaps you’ve heard that the author has told the story well (fiction) or has handled the material in an expert manner (non-fiction) so the book is convincing and a pleasure to anyone who may read it.

And that the book is well-written regardless of who may have written it – no matter what their background, how many bestsellers they’ve published, or their writing experience.

If you only read traditionally published books, read a book written and published by an indie author. If you only read print books, read an eBook. Mix things up a bit. Discover something new!

When we judge a book by the quality of its writing, we are giving that author their due. We are giving them credit for all their hard work in mastering their craft of writing, because they’ve managed to use that craft to entertain, enlighten, and possibly even educate us in a way we might never have realized was available to us before as readers. That book has opened new doors and convinced us of more that can be available, if we just open our minds to the possibilities.

As for where you may find these well-written books … The more you read and and the further afield you explore what’s available to be read, the better you will recognize what is good writing – for you! What YOU consider to be a well-written book. Because, in the end, it really is up to you, the reader, to decide.

If, after you begin reading, you realize the book is not as well written as you hoped, give yourself permission to set it aside, knowing that at least you gave it a try.

But always be adventurous! Check out some of the books I’ve recommended on my other blog, Reading Recommendations. Read some of the books that the authors I’ve promoted on the site have in turn recommended. Talk with your local librarians and other readers you trust.

Eventually you will become the best judge of what is a good book FOR YOU.

And now, please excuse me while I go back to reading a few well-written books!


(This rant was brought to you by my having read yet-another article “telling” readers that we MUST read more books written by this particular group of writers [insert nationality, ethnic group, gender here] … with no suggestion in the article at all about the quality of their writing being a factor. Harrumpf!)

Three days to save on Occasional Soulmates

Here’s a terrific offer from longtime Reading Recommendations-promoted author, Kevin Brennan! If you haven’t read anything by Kevin before then this is your opportunity. You’re in for a treat! Kevin is one of my favourite authors, and I hope he becomes one of your favourites, too!


occasional_soulmates_ebook_coverClick cover to sample

Alrighty, the 99 cent sale is on, muchachos y muchachas. From now through Saturday, you can nail down your reading entertainment for the weekend and save three dollars while you’re at it.

If you’re new to my amiga, Sarah Phelan, and her offbeat take on love, both romantic and familial, here’s the scoop:

 When the thirty-eight-year-old San Francisco doctor meets her new patient, a handsome British expat with the unlikely name of Dylan Cakebread (and an uncanny resemblance to Jude Law), she’s convinced it’s the start of her own relationship novel. He’s an architect, no less — always a key piece of her most indulgent fantasies — and the heroine of a relationship novel always gets her fantasy man, right? Though their shaky start raises red flags that her oldest girlfriend, Jules, is quick to point out, Sarah can’t help it. She falls…

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Calling All Readers! My gift to you …

I’ve updated and added to this earlier post, first published here in Dec. 2012, in which I offer 6 of my short stories free to all readers! Please have a look, and do read my stories – this is my “gift” to you! And, bloggers and friends, please share and reblog this post wherever possible, if you agree that what I have to say here is an important message. Thanks, Everyone, for reading!!

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

I’ve been reading another brilliant book written by the very insightful, Seth Godin. I can’t get enough of this guy and his ideas on how we can work and create and live a life that’s meaningful. This one is titled, Linchpin: Are You Indispensible? and it was published in 2010. I wish I had read it a couple of years ago, but that’s water under the bridge.

I’ll quote from it now, however, to give you an idea as to why I’m writing this blog post at this moment.

“Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.” p. 70

“The last element that makes it art is that it’s a gift. You cannot create a piece of art merely for money. Doing it as part of commerce so denudes art of wonder that it ceases to be art. There’s always a…

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Free This Weekend Only

Don Massenzio has previously been featured on my blog, Reading Recommendations. Over this weekend, Don is offering his first novel as a free download from Amazon! Here’s a great opportunity to discover a new-to-you author.

Don Massenzio's Blog

I am pleased to announce that I am offering my first novel, Frankly Speaking, free in e-book format from

This book has been well reviewed and is a great read to enjoy over a Summer weekend. It will be available for free download beginning on July 8th through July 10th. Please take advantage of this opportunity.

Here are some of the latest reviews:

“Frankly Speaking is a great private detective mystery. Ex-cop Frank Rozzani is now living in Florida and working as PI He and his partner in crime solving, Clifford Jones a.k.a. Jonesy, a local lawyer/surfer dude are called in by a wealthy lawyer to find his missing 16 year old daughter, who disappeared during a church retreat at a local mega church. Along with the help of Jacksonville PD detective Anita, Frank and Jonesy go thought a…

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Book Clubs … an idea

I’ve written about book clubs in the past and talked about their necessity and importance, not only for club members but also for we authors who are trying to get attention for our books. I don’t belong to a book club myself, but I did recently publish a guest post on my blog from Felicity Harley, titled My two book clubs and why I love them. Felicity pretty well sums up the reasons most readers join book clubs. I know the camaraderie and a shared interest in reading and books are the main reasons I’ve heard others have joined them. And definitely, having your book read by a book club, or being invited as a guest author to a meeting to speak about your book, are certainly the reasons why most authors I know love book clubs!


I was thinking about recommending books this morning, about how we as readers hear about “what to read next” and how book clubs figure into the bigger picture of promoting our books to more readers. My mind was working in the way it usually does (and I know bjH is probably nodding her head right now in recognition, thinking to herself, “Oh, no, Susan. Not again …) and one thought about book clubs and their members led to another thought of how those book clubs could help spread the word further than to just their immediate membership about the books they’ve enjoyed.

What if book clubs were to take their discussion another step and post a review of a book they’ve discussed? That review could be posted to Goodreads or Amazon or the local library’s website. Anywhere online, really, as long as it catches the attention of more readers. And this review could be whatever the club decides, by whomever wishes to write it. But it should be a consensus of the members’ opinions and perhaps include some of the more important points of discussion during the meeting.

This way the book club would receive some public recognition and, trust me, those authors whose books are reviewed would be tickled pink! It’s one thing knowing that 10 or 12 club members have enjoyed what you’ve written. But if the club chooses to also share the news of their enjoyment with the reading public in general .. Well, then! Let me just say that I for one would be ecstatic if I suddenly saw a review on Goodreads posted by a book club that chose to read and discuss my book! (Besides which, we don’t always know a club has chosen to read our books in the first place. Just knowing that has happened would make me happy!)

So, is this idea do-able? Are there book club members out there reading this now who would be willing to suggest my proposal to their club, and possibly act on reviewing books publicly that they’ve read and discussed previously?

Another place where I’d be more than happy to post positive reviews from book clubs of any Reading Recommendations-promoted authors they’ve discussed is on my review blog, reading recommendations reviewed. (Authors I’ve promoted on Reading Recommendations are listed here and here. I also recommend you check through those two lists if you’re looking for ideas on which books and authors to discuss next.)

Please do share this post online, through social media and your blogs, but especially directly with any book clubs you know that might take me up on my suggestion. I’ve noticed there are book club blogs online, as well. I think they might like this concept. And please remember too that many public libraries and book stores also host book club discussions!

I don’t need to tell anyone reading this blog post that we authors manage to survive and keep writing through receiving good reviews that attract more new readers to our work. A positive review coming from a group of happy readers would constitute a major endorsement for many of us.

(So what do you think, bjH? A good idea this time?)

Writing Fiction in a World of Change

Paul Butler is a Canadian author whose writing I greatly admire. He has been featured previously on Reading Recommendations. He has just announced he will be moving from Newfoundland and relocating in Alberta this summer – Newfoundland’s great loss, but Alberta’s definite gain! Here’s an interesting blog post he wrote over the weekend in which he announces his move, but also looks at what has happened recently in both Newfoundland and the UK that has caused him great frustration. Although, like all good writers, he’s finding inspiration in the situations.

paul butler novelist

Over the past few weeks the two places I have called home longest in my life have both inexplicably given themselves the most serious of self-inflicted wounds. The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador has introduced an austerity budget which hammers the young, the vulnerable, the old, and the sick and gives no hint at all as to how any of this is to solve any of our long term problems. Indeed, the gloom is so great that even those not immediately affected in any personal sense – those who in fact make up the tax base of the province – are busy planning ways to escape with their children to more optimistic regions of the world.

Meanwhile, the government of the United Kingdom saw its ill-advised promise of a referendum on the emotionally-charged subject of the European Union bear the bitterest of fruit. I arrived in Heathrow on the…

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