About Susan M. Toy

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.DSC04900

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

70 responses

  1. […] and I were introduced online through our mutual friend, Susan Toy. And though we’ve not (yet!) met in person, we’ve had many digital conversations over […]

  2. Wow this is an awesome undertaking, well done. I found you via Sally Cronin. This is wonderful, thanks for sharing. Keep safe xx

  3. […] Here's a few more you shouldn't miss. Jason Lawson – Facebook Page Susan Toy – Website Lee Thompson – Website This novels not too bad either (so I've been told)  […]

  4. […] Author Susan M. Toy had this to Say: […]

  5. […] If you’d like to learn more about Susan, you can find her blog and purchase her books here. […]

  6. Pleased to meet you. Seems we have a mutual friend in Beetley Pete!

    1. Yes! I recently discovered his blog through Felicity Harley.

      1. Please thank her for me!!

  7. Hi Susan, found your lovely blog through Tess Karlinksi’s reblog of your post “Free Promotion Under Your Nose! Your ideas are gold! Just googled and added links and reviews to my one little book’s page! Thank you for your brilliant ideas 🙂 https://secondwindleisure.com/for-the-love-of-reading/books-by-terri/

    1. So happy you found me, Terri! I hope my blog will be of help to you.

  8. Susan, it’s an absolute joy reading about you and your accomplishments. Bravo! I’m thrilled to find your website and become a follower of your blog. Thank you. 🙂

    1. Thank YOU, Natalie, for reading and following! Your support is much appreciated.

  9. […] Susan M. Toy is not only an excellent author, but also a stalwart promoter of other self-published authors. Her recommendations for blogs to follow thus carry a great deal of weight with me, as do her Reading Recommendations. Thanks for the great suggestions, Susan! […]

  10. so glad I happened onto you blog 🙂

  11. Hi Susan
    What an impressive life. You not only write but have also traveled intensively. I have followed a few of the links and read a couple of your other posts. I have written and self published a couple of children’s books that I keep looking for ways to promote. So you still operate Alberta Books, Canada. I have lived in Alberta for over forty years.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Marjorie! I no longer operate ABC, nor do I live in Alberta any longer, but I still offer advice on promotion through my blog. Check out the page, Guest Blog Posts https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/guest-blog-posts-series-and-articles/ for more information. Best of luck with your books!

  12. […] Susan M. Toy, author of the humorous and intriguing mystery novel Island in the Clouds, offers here a collection of six short stories for your enjoyment, gratis. Why? Because, as she quotes Seth Godin in this blog post, “There’s always a gift intent on the part of the artist.” (See source in Susan’s post.) […]

  13. […] Robert Runte Hendrik Slegtenhorst Kristina Stanley Fred Stenson Eugene Stickland Danika Stone Susan M. Toy … A Canadian author and the brains behind Reading Recommendations Cristy Watson Alison […]

  14. […] Susan M. Toy has won awards for her writing, being a sales representative, and being a publishers’ […]

  15. Susan, congratulations on your nomination for the Services to Bloggers Award in Sasha Black’s Second Annual Blogger’s Bash Awards (https://sachablack.co.uk/2016/05/19/vote-now-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-now-open/)! The amount of work you do helping other indie authors never ceases to amaze me.

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Connie!

      1. You didn’t know? Well, the nominations were just posted yesterday, so perhaps the committee is still notifying the nominees.

  16. […]  Susan M. Toy is the author of Island in the Clouds, the first novel in the Bequia Perspectives series, and That Last Summer, a novella. If all goes as planned, she hopes to be announcing the ePublication of One Woman’s Island before Sept. She’s currently cooling her heels at a trailer park in southwestern Ontario, close to the eastern shore of Lake Huron. About Susan M. Toy […]

  17. […] Susan M. Toy has been a bookseller, an award-winning publishers’ sales rep, and is a promoter of books, authors and reading. You may learn more about Susan here. https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/about-susan-m-toy/ […]

  18. Hi Susan! Nice blog. Pleased to meet you, Marina

    1. Thanks for reading, following and commenting, Marina!

  19. I am so happy I blundered my way to your site! A fellow Calgarian! I will definitely be a frequent visitor hoping some of your experience will trickle down.

    1. Happy that you found me! I don’t live in Calgary any longer, but still have strong ties to Alberta. Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog.

  20. Hi, Susan! Lovely blog.

      1. You’re quite welcome!

  21. […] in the Clouds by Susan M. Toy Genre: Mystery, novel Purchase […]

  22. Thank you Susan for all the great recommendations over the last 2 years. And especially for having me as part of the RR. It has been a treat to have you as a guest on the Scribbler. You have tons of talent……and you’re a very nice lady. Allan http://www.southbranchscribbler.ca

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Allan! It was a pleasure to host you there and to be a guest on your blog! And thanks, too, for all you do to support and promote your fellow authors.

  23. […] You can read more about Susan here:  https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/about-susan-m-toy/ […]

  24. […] Graham, Suzie Speaks, Rosie Amber, Nicholas Rossis, Sally Cronin, Katherine Grubb, Susan Toy, Dylan Hearn, Sacha Black, Lizzi […]

  25. […] Susan M. Toy is a Canadian author and publisher who shares her time between Canada and her Caribbean home on the island of Bequia. She has previously published Island in the Clouds, a mystery novel set on the island. One Woman’s Island is second in the Bequia Perspectives series and will be ePublished in 2015. Susan’s life has always been filled with cats, but she numbers many dog-lovers among her friends. (Read more about Susan and her literary journey here.) […]

  26. […] Graham, Suzie Speaks, Rosie Amber, Nicholas Rossis, Sally Cronin, Katherine Grubb, Susan Toy, Dylan Hearn, Sacha Black, Lizzi […]

  27. Hi. I hope you don’t mind but I’ve nominated you to take part in a Writing Challenge. Here’s the link if you’d like to join in: https://kyrosmagica.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/free-style-writing-challenge-the-hurt-behind-the-smile/

  28. Hi- I have stumbled on your blog and would love to connect. I have been suffering with chikengunya for now 100 days, would love to understand where you are at.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been suffering too. I will send you an email.

  29. Hi Susan,

    If you check out http://nicholasrossis.me/awards/ you’ll see that I’ve nominated you for a blog award. I hope you accept 🙂

    1. Thank you very much, Nicholas! That’s so kind of you.

      1. Not at all. Also, I’ve been talking to Connie; thank you so much for offering to help with Smile! 🙂

  30. Thanks for following 🙂 Look forward to catching up with your blog

  31. This is a wonderful posting as I have found a home and muse in my desires to become better at the craft I call writing. Lol!

    This is my second career and I will follow through with some of what you wrote about your history and journey to become an accomplished writer.

    Thank you so much for sharing and I look forward to following your blog.

    1. You may not realize how gratifying it is knowing I’m a source of inspiration to someone! Thank you! And do stay tuned …

  32. […] For more information about Susan M. Toy, her books, and promotion of other authors, plus a few good photos of cats and the tropics, visit https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/about-susan-m-toy/ […]

  33. […] in the Clouds, by Susan M Toy, which I’ll be reviewing shortly. Idyllic tropical island, with the gun by the swimming pool, […]

  34. Wow, impressive life! I’m glad that I found you, and that we share an interest in writing. I’d love to see your library of cookbooks. 🙂

  35. I really enjoyed and loved Island in the Clouds and looking forward to reading the next one. I presume I can buy it on Amazon.

    1. Thank you very much, mudpilewood! I’m still working on the second novel, but it will definitely be available as an eBook first on Amazon. Keep reading my blog for more information on this.

  36. How may I buy your book…?…..Amazon?

    Bequia is my birthplace…ronclar@hotmail.com

    1. Thanks for your comment and your interest! You may check this link: https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/where-in-the-world-can-you-purchase-island-in-the-clouds/ and I will send you an email.

  37. Hi Susan: Please contact me via email to collect your free copy of Second Avenue Second Hand. wendytylerryan@gmail.com

  38. Wow! What an impressive life you’ve lived (especially the part about not aging). PEI is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and the Canadian anthem is so much nicer than the US one– though I can understand wanting some escape from the cold.

    1. Thanks for your comment and for following my blog, Middlemay Farm! Much appreciated.

  39. I am so excited to have found your site. I love to read and write, am proud that I passed this passion onto my one and only thirteen daughter who not only writes but loves to illustrate. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of the industry and look forward future posts. Have a wonderful night, Allie.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Simple Northern Life! Welcome aboard!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: