About Susan M. Toy
The short …
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.
And the long of it …
Remarkably, I haven’t aged a day since this picture was taken. I fear, however, that the pony may have possibly died by now…
I was born in Toronto, Canada, and grew up in The Beach neighbourhood in a house south of Queen St. and less than a block away from the boardwalk fronting Lake Ontario. I graduated from Malvern Collegiate Institute and received a degree in English Literature from Queen’s University, Kingston.
We moved west after university, to Calgary, in 1978, when the streets there truly were paved with gold. After a career in bookselling and as a publishers’ sales rep, my partner and I packed up everything to live in the house we built on the island of Bequia in the Caribbean. During this time, I began writing a murder mystery set on the island. When I’d received my 38th rejection from publishers for that manuscript, I decided perhaps it was time to take some writing courses, as reading books alone didn’t seem to be enough training for writing a novel.
Through the internet, I was mentored by Paul Quarrington in the Humber School of Creative Writing. I discovered I liked being able to learn by distance, while I was l living far away from Canada in the Caribbean, so I enrolled in other courses, covering trade publishing and editing, offered by Ryerson University in their Publishing Certificate programme. A fellow student talked me into taking Ann Ireland’s Travel Writing and Short Story courses, again by distance, and through Ryerson’s Writing Department.
All the while, I continued entering writing contests, as well as NaNoWriMo and the 3-Day Novel Contest, and managed to stack up 5 novels, 3 novellas, and 13+ short stories. I’ve also entered short story contests, and have been fortunate in winning prizes with three entries.
I moved back to Calgary and, after a short stint again at sales repping, I began freelancing, under the company name of Alberta Books Canada, as an authors’ promoter, and offering sales assistance to publishers.
A trip to the Fernie Writers’ Conference in 2009 turned out to be a life-changing experience. I have since served on the board of directors, attended several conferences, and saw my idea of a writing contest, Coffee Shop Author, realized.
I continue to write, and have met many wonderful supportive people along the way: fellow students, instructors, publishers, booksellers, readers – but, especially, writing colleagues – all of whom have been extremely encouraging, not to mention generous with their time, help, counselling, and critiquing. I look forward to many more years of association with these fine people.
In Feb. 2012, I decided to put into action some of my ideas concerning the new direction of publishing and I ePublished my novel, Island in the Clouds. In June, 2012, the print edition was released. I continue to experiment with new ways to promote and sell both the eBook and print editions.
I read widely, preferring fiction and short stories. I’m also an accomplished amateur cook with a particular interest in baking, and I own a library of over 500 cookbooks that I continue to consult, in spite of the speed of internet searches for recipes. There’s just something about pulling out a stack of books in the morning and flipping through the pages while sipping a coffee, planning the evening meal, that just can’t be matched by enter and click. I don’t mind, however, reading e-books.
1989 – Publishers’ Representative of the Year awarded by the Alberta Booksellers’ Association
1994 – Gordon S. Garner Sales Representative of the Year awarded by the Canadian Booksellers’ Association
2008 – First place for Hockey Night on Bellefair Avenue in the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick writing contest
2008 – Honorable mention for Hockey Night on Bellefair Avenue in the Chang School/White Wall Review student writing contest
2009 – First place for 50 Ways to Lose Your Liver in the Chang School/White Wall Review student writing contest
2008 – Hockey Night on Bellefair Avenue in The White Wall Review #32
2009 – 50 Ways to Lose Your Liver in The White Wall Review #33
2012- Island in the Clouds, a Bequia Perspectives novel IslandCatEditions eBook and print
2013 – That Last Summer IslandShorts eBook
2014 – Bequia Blues in Path of the Bullet: A Collection of Short Stories Featuring Ike by Tim Baker blindoggbooks