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.)