Category Archives: Authors
IslandCatEditions is very pleased to announce the release of the 3rd edition of
Country Music Country by Bruce Hunter!
Bruce Hunter’s Country Music Country, “a masterpiece,” says The London Free Press, is back in a third edition in eBook and print with an introduction by literary historian, Shaun Hunter (no relation to the author).
These powerful linked stories that read like a novel begin in a prairie Eden amongst the last vestiges of wild grass, cottonwood, and an ancient buffalo jump, bounded by an oil refinery, explosives plant and rail yards. Hunter describes in vivid detail, and often with dark humour, the lives of his four characters. First as adolescents and then as adults, they work dirty jobs. Some move away to Southern Ontario and return home again in the moving title story.
Reading Bruce Hunter’s stories, we come to know this place, too. The way Ogden can shape the fibre of a person, and make him yearn to be someone else. The way it can push a person away and pull her home. The way its landscape is constantly changing, and somehow stays the same. The way Ogden can make a writer sing its sweetness and its shadows as if this place and these lives were country music.
… from the Introduction by Shaun Hunter
Deafened as an infant and born and raised in Calgary, Bruce Hunter worked as a labourer, equipment operator and landscaper before winning a scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts. He then attended York University and graduated with a BFA (Honours) in film and the humanities. After stints teaching at York, Humber College and Banff, he taught in the School of English and Liberal Arts at Seneca College in Toronto for 25 years. The author of six books, including the novel In the Bear’s House (Oolichan Books, 2009), winner of the Canadian Rockies Prize at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, Bruce currently lives in Toronto.
Where to purchase copies of Country Music Country:
Amazon Worldwide – Print and eBook
Chapters/Indigo – eBook
Apple iTunes – eBook
Booksellers and Librarians who would like print copies of the book to resell or for their collection, please email:
susanmtoy (at) gmail.com
WITHOUT spending any money!
I know, I know … finding the money to support authors by buying their books is not always easy. I have a hard time in that department myself.
However, there are many ways that Readers can help Authors of books they’ve already read and enjoyed. These ideas are every bit as valuable to Authors as actual sales can be – and they will cost you absolutely nothing to do. They just require an investment of your TIME, and your ENTHUSIASM to make things happen. Never underestimate what a READER of books can accomplish when they choose to champion a particular book or an Author.
So, here you go! 10 ways you can invest in Authors and Books without spending any money …
1. Borrow and read books from the library. Rate those books on the library’s system. Request that the library purchase other books by that same author. Encourage your friends to use the library. (And, don’t forget, most libraries are now online and offer eBooks for borrowing.)
NB Authors: Library patrons are the biggest group of buyers of books, so it’s definitely worth it to you to get your books into library systems …
2. Tell your friends whenever you discover a great book or a new Author. Post links to the Author’s website/Facebook page/Goodreads listing in your own social media. This does not need to be a full-blown review of the book, but just a shout-out to your friends that this was a great book. (If you’ve read a book that has really knocked off your reading socks, but you don’t want to write a full-blown review – and I can understand that many Readers don’t want to write reviews of what they read – then consider posting something brief to my new blog, What are you reading?.)
3. And speaking of that … Ask your friends the question, “What are you reading?” to start a conversation about books. Then you can easily slip in about what you’ve been reading. 🙂
4. When your favourite author announces the release of a new book or information about what they’ve been up to lately, do these simple things …
a) “Like” their blog post/status update/Tweet
b) Make a comment – something like: “Congratulations!” or “Can’t wait to read it!”
c) Reblog/share/retweet whatever the author has posted, with the added message to your followers that you are excited about this new book being released and that they may want to check it out, too.
d) Repeat however many number of times that the author posts updates.
(Most authors who use social media will be very aware of your engagement with what they post. You can’t imagine how much of a boost that will give them, knowing someone out there is eagerly awaiting their latest. And you can do all of this without ever seeming like a stalker … 😉 )
5. Become a champion of the author’s books. As I said above, recommend to your local library that they add the author’s books to their collection. You can also mention the author and their books to local bookstores, if the store is not already carrying copies. Don’t badger the store to stock the books, but do ask whether they would consider the possibility. And if there’s another local business that might carry a book because it has a local theme or the author is local then ask that store to consider the same. This idea works well for gift shops in tourist areas. (A friend recently arranged for my books to be sold in a Bequia hotel’s giftshop!)
6. Use Goodreads as a means of keeping track of what you read (and for rating those books), but also enter their giveaways. Then mention those giveaways to your friends by sharing the links on social media. (I have discovered many new-to-me books and authors by entering these Goodreads Giveaways – and I’ve created a number of my own giveaways for my books there, too. I’ve been fortunate in that, as a Reader, I’ve won a lot of books from the site. But I also keep track of titles for all contests entered on my “to-read” list and go through that from time-to-time to see what I may be able to borrow and read now.) Do not discount being a “stat” on Goodreads. I can’t be the only author who checks their stats on that site regularly; it definitely means a lot to me when I see an increase in the number of Readers who have added any of my three published books to their lists – yes, even when someone new simply adds one title to their “to-read” list. That’s yet another reader who has been attracted to what I have written, and that makes my heart sing every time!
7. Recommend to your book club that they consider reading and discussing your favourite Author’s book(s). Invite that author to speak to your club via Skype, if that’s a possibility.
8. Working with that Skype idea of the Author calling in to speak with a group, ask whether your local library or bookstore would be interested in setting up an event such as this. Let them deal directly with the Author on the logistics, but put a bug in their ears about the possibility for such an event. And then, if this idea actually does happen, help the venue to encourage interested Readers to attend!
9. If you write a blog, consider talking about the Author and their books there – even if the blog is not book-or-book-review-related. Interview the Author, or allow them to write a guest post. Your blog readers will thank you for your honesty in telling them about a new Author and a book you’ve enjoyed.
10. Contact the Author privately (usually their websites will offer a way of connecting) and tell them how much you enjoyed their writing and books. It’s one thing to receive a positive public comment from a Reader, but if you make the effort to tell that Author, one-on-one, what you really think about their writing and their books … Well!! I know I’m thrilled whenever anyone takes the time to compliment me! I usually ask that Reader if I may quote them, even anonymously if they so choose, because it’s wonderful to be able to share praise I receive with everyone else. Praise in a private email is so, so much better than in a public review! Because again – it’s honest and heartfelt!
So, all easy-peasy stuff to do that will be an “investment” into the Author and their writing, because it will all help that Author to grow their reader-base and, more importantly, to keep writing!
Just to prove that I practice what I preach here, and have done this for many, many, many years, in fact … Here are the links to the blogs I’ve set up:
reading recommendations reviewed
What are you reading?
Do it! Do it NOW! And you may begin by liking and sharing this blog post, telling other Readers how they may make a non-monetary investment in their own favourite Authors that will be much appreciated by both Readers and Authors alike!
SPREAD THE LOVE!!
(and on that note, here’s a little earworm for you …)
Out of necessity, I had to cut down drastically on the number of blogs I subscribe to and read – the number of good blogs out there was becoming impossible to keep up with on a daily basis! So I’ve narrowed down my list here to the truly GREAT blogs I continue to follow and read (and comment on and share) on a regular basis. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you will notice many familiar names. Some bloggers publish posts more than once a day and others are sporadic. But I can guarantee you will always find something of interest to read on these bloggers’ sites. Do check out each and every one of them and see if you agree with me, and I also hope you find a few new favourites to follow and read. (Sorry to those I didn’t list. There was a point where I had to cut off this list!!)
* Denotes the blogger is also a published author and it would be well worth it to check out what they’ve published!
** Denotes the blogger has promoted me and my books on their blog at some time or another.
**Chris, The Story Reading Ape – *Christopher Graham
**Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life – *Sally Cronin
**WHAT THE HELL – *Kevin Brennan
**A Creative State of Mind – *Tricia Drammeh
**blindoggbooks – *Tim Baker
**Seumas Gallacher – *Seumas Gallacher
**South Branch Scribbler – *Allan Hudson
**Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge – Karen Parker
**theshammuramat – *Felicity Harley
beetleypete – Pete Johnson
Leaving Ourselves Behind – Ginny & Stephen
**Betty Jane Hegerat: Canadian author of literary fiction – *Betty Jane Hegerat
Camino De Tim – *Timothy L. Phillips
Books Unpacked – *Merilyn Simonds
Paul Butler Novelist – *Paul F. Butler
Seth’s Blog – *Seth Godin
My Peacock Books – Cat Peacock
Marathon Mouth – *Bill Corbett
**Owlish Books – Loes M.
I have already posted a list of some of the authors whose books I read this year and found to be outstanding. You will find that link here.
But I read so many books in 2017, and many were great reads indeed, so I’ve divided the list into two: that first list covered authors I have promoted on my blog,
Reading Recommendations; this second list is everything else.
Because I tend to be an eclectic reader, you will find on this list: old books and newly released books, fiction and non-fiction, children’s picture books, graphic novels, memoir – even a couple of political biographies, and many books about books and reading (because I’ve been researching a series on Reading for my blog). What I have not listed are the classics and cookbooks (yes, I even read cookbooks!) that I read this year. And I read all of these books in eBook and print format, sometimes bought, sometimes gifted copies, some even won through Goodreads Giveaways, or they were from my own personal library, and many more were borrowed from the public library.
All are considered to be 5-star ratings, as far as I’m concerned. The very, very best books of the lot though are marked, along with the author’s name, in bold.
(The links attached to these titles will take you to more information on that specific book. These books are listed in the order I read them. )
Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
Slow Horses by Mick Herron
The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart
The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michi
Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon
Judith by Aritha van Herk
(Reread after almost 40 years since it was first released! From Wikipedia: Van Herk’s writing career began with the publication of her M.A. thesis in 1978. Judith, a novel that explores a feisty female protagonist’s experiences in both rural and urban Canadian spaces, was the first winner of the Seal First Novel Award (C$50,000) from McClelland and Stewart, which granted the book international distribution throughout North America and Europe. )
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Between Them by Richard Ford
Town is by the Sea by Joanne Scwartz
The Secret Place by Tana French
Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson
The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi
This Fight is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren
Before, During, After by Richard Bausch
American War by Omar El Akkad
(If I were forced to make a selection of the very best book I read this year, this would be it!)
Darktown by Thomas Mullen
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
The End of Your Life Book Club, Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
(The End of Your Life Book Club is the best non-fiction I read, and it really changed the way I read books and think about my reading, and even about my life.)
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Roughneck by Jeff Lemire
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley & Kate Berube
The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Arrival: The Story of CanLit by Nick Mount
I have read many, many books this year! Some were written by authors I have promoted previously on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and these books I considered to be outstanding! And, in a few cases, I read more than one book by the same author. So, without further ado, here’s a list of those authors’ names and the titles of their books I read in 2017 …
(The links below will take you to that author’s original promotion on Reading Recommendations.)
Thanks to all Authors for continuing to write so well!
Gail Anderson-Dargatz – The Spawning Grounds
Tim Baker – 24 Minutes (to be published in 2018)
Gail Bowen – The Winner’s Circle
Kevin Brennan – In No Particular Order
Sharon Butala – Where I Live Now
Paul Butler – The Good Doctor, The Widow’s Fire
Sally Cronin – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story
Tricia Drammeh – The Fifth Circle, Firebound (Spellbringers Book #2)
Seumas Gallacher – A Few Poetry Stops in a Life’s Journey
Felicity Harley – The Burning Years
Betty Jane Hegerat – Running Toward Home
Allan Hudson – Shorts Vol. 1
J.F. Kaufmann – Ellida, Once Upon a Night (To be published in 2018)
Ken McGoogan – 50 Canadians Who Changed the World, Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage
J.P. McLean – The Betrayal
Antony Millen – The Chain
David A. Poulsen – Serpents Rising, Dead Air
Mike Robbins – Such Little Accident: British Democracy and its Enemies, Three Seasons
Merilyn Simonds – Gutenberg’s Fingerprint
Mary Smith – Donkey Boy and Other Stories
Check out Part 2 of this series here.
During the early 80s I worked in a bookstore in Calgary – a rather eclectic shop that sold no bestsellers or books for children, but instead did a booming business in world literature, poetry, philosophy, science, armchair travel, gender, vegetarian cookbooks, and LPs of New Age music … I remember one pre-Christmas season (oh, and the store also did not get into any kind of festive mode, either) when one of our regular customers, a middle-aged professor at the university, walked into the store, clapped his hands together, and said, “Right! I’ve finished shopping for all the presents for everyone else. Now it’s time to shop for ME!” And with that, he delved in among the shelves and came back to the front desk loaded down with some weighty (both physically and in content) tomes on whatever subject it was in which he specialized. I always think back to the glee in his eyes at the thought, no doubt, that he was going to be gifting himself exactly what he wanted for Christmas (or whichever present-giving-based holiday he and his family were celebrating).
As a reader who definitely knows what she enjoys reading, and who has had many years of experience in finding and discovering her own reading material, thank you very much!, I’m not big on taking direction from others when I choose what to read next. I enjoy the search almost as much as the actual reading, so to speak. In other words, I don’t like to receive books as gifts. Nor do I want to give books as gifts to other readers. I believe that they, like me, prefer to discover reading material themselves. (Besides, we don’t do the gift-giving thing in our house, not even for birthdays. Buying the land and building this house on Bequia was gift enough that Dennis and I gave to each other at the time to last a lifetime.)
So, instead of posting a list of suggestions of books for your gift-giving this year, I’m offering here a list of recommended reading FOR READERS out there! It’s actually just a link to my Reading Recommendations blog and all the wonderful authors I have promoted there over the years, but still worthwhile checking out for the day you too can say,
“There! I’m finished with everyone else … Now I can treat myself with some excellent books to read!”
And here are more recommendations from my What are you reading? blog.
Sorry I can’t help you with finding quiet time to read those books – you’ll need to carve that out for yourself!
Oh, and I want World Peace, too, while we’re at it!
Both my Bequia Perspectives Novels are now available
worldwide from Amazon in print editions!
All links to purchase both titles in print or in eBook formats
(or to borrow from libraries) can be found here:
Bequia Perspectives Novels
Here’s the background as to how all this came about …
In Feb. 2012 I published the first eBook edition of Island in the Clouds. It had been my idea at the time that we should ePublish first, work out any bugs in the files, create a market for the writing and for a print edition, and then go to print once a demand was established. So I didn’t print Island in the Clouds until June 2012, and at that time I went with a traditional publishing company to do so. This cost me a considerable amount of money up front, leaving me in proud possession of 800 copies of the book – which I then had to store, distribute, and sell myself. Five-and-a-half-years later, I still have about 200 copies left in various locations. I have not been paid at all by several places that took copies on consignment to sell for me, and I have no reliable means of selling those remaining copies. Fortunately, I sold enough of the original 800 to cover my expenses of having the books printed, but I’m nowhere near having made enough money from this enterprise to pay myself back for everything I put into writing, promoting and selling the book by myself.
But then we do it for the love of it, right? This was never intended to be a money-making enterprise. But it was also never intended to be a money-LOSING enterprise …
When it came time to think about printing One Woman’s Island, I had to consider long and hard whether I wanted to travel down that same road. First of all, I did not have the several thousand dollars I knew a traditional printing was going to cost. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to store copies anywhere, or find a new distributor for this new book.
Fortunately for me, I received a blog post from Calgary author, Brian Brennan (who I have promoted on Reading Recommendations), in which he explained how he went about reprinting books of his that had been declared out of print by the original publisher. He worked with our mutual eBook formatter, Human Powered Design (Gina McCreary), to create the print files, and then went to a self-publishing service to have copies printed POD (print-on-demand). I reblogged Brian’s explanation of all this here: Brian Brennan – 3 reprints now available
So, I decided to look into this myself for my own print books. In the meantime, Gina had heard of a new service being offered by Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing Paperback Beta Program – that we could sign into through our existing eBook accounts (which Gina has always maintained for me) and it seemed as though it was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t need to pay anything upfront to Amazon, Gina was able to create the necessary print files and cover designs from my original eBook files and look after the listings for me, and I will receive payment from Human Powered Design for sales made, along with any sales of eBooks, every month, as I have done all along since first listing my eBooks in Feb. 2012.
Plus … I now have the benefit of WORLDWIDE distribution of my print books!! That, to me, is the biggest benefit of printing books in this way.
Here’s another article I discovered about this new service that ran on The Digital Reader site.
Thanks to friend, reader and, dare I say #1 Fan! – Jay Yurkiewicz, for ordering 2 copies of the new print edition of my Bequia Perspectives novel, One Woman’s Island, telling me immediately when he finally received them from Amazon via mail, then taking these photos of the books, along with a print copy of the first one, Island in the Clouds, so I could further promote the books.
So, here they are, in all their glory, at Jay’s Florida home!
Thanks again, Jay, for all your support and encouragement over the years, and for the great reviews you’ve given my books … much appreciated!
If anyone else orders copies of this new print book and sends me a photo of it in its new home, I’ll add that photo to this dedicated blog page, Where/Who in the World is Reading One Woman’s Island??? And it does not need to be print only that you photograph … it could be the eBook on your reader or computer screen. Whichever way you choose to read my books, I’m more than happy to promote that!
Here’s a list of where to purchase or borrow from a library, either in print or as an eBook.
Hooray!! The print version of my second novel in the Bequia Perspectives Series, One Woman’s Island is now listed with Amazon as being available to order!
Since I went with POD (print-on-demand) with this book, here’s how it works if you prefer to read the novel in a paperback format: you place an order with Amazon; Bingo-Bongo! a copy (or copies) is/are printed specifically for you; you receive your order by mail directly from Amazon. (Yes, you pay Amazon directly, but I will eventually receive my royalties on every copy sold.) I won’t be stocking quantities of this book (or lugging them around with me), so your best bet to get a copy quickly is to order from Amazon. Eventually, there should be a listing for every Amazon sales site and I will update the list as I discover new sites.
Here’s a complete list of where to purchase One Woman’s Island in both the print and eBook formats. Also listed there are libraries where you may be able to borrow the eBook.
Now, let’s have some fun! When you receive your copy of One Woman’s Island from Amazon, please send me a photo either of you holding the book or of the book set in a recognizable place that suggests where you happen to be at the moment … you know, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, the Rocky Mountains. I’ll then post all the photos on this blog as I receive them. Send your photos to me via email: susanmtoy (at) gmail.com
Thanks to all my supportive and very enthusiastic readers! You are the reason I keep writing …
After my Cover reveal!! of the forthcoming print version of my novel, One Woman’s Island, I thought I’d tease readers a little more with some of the additional material I’ve added to this new edition – in the “praise for the eBook”, updated “dedication” and “acknowledgements” pages … some of you will recognize a few familiar names here!
Praise for the eBook edition of
One Woman’s Island
One Woman’s Island beautifully captures the spirit of being on the island of Bequia. The author’s ear for local dialogue is faultless. With its complex characters, fast-moving plot, authentic setting and the underlying seriousness of the questions it so skillfully raises, One Woman’s Island, is a book that should garner a wide readership, one far larger than those who are familiar with Bequia. ~ Felicity Harley, author of The Burning Years
Susan Toy’s new novel One Woman’s Island is: lively; startling; creepy; funny; shocking; sad; insightful – and engaging from start to finish. ~ Ann Ireland, prize-winning author of novels, A Certain Mr. Takahashi, The Instructor, Exile and The Blue Guitar
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
Toy brings the strands together artfully toward the close, and I was left with some tantalizing memories of my own of a different island, in a different place, in a different era, but with so many delicious similarities… a most entertaining read… ~ Seumas Gallacher, author of The Jack Calder series of crime thrillers
One Woman’s Island speaks not only to the seclusion of island life, but the woman herself. Mariana is running toward, as well as running away from her past. What awaits her on the island of Bequia is everything and nothing that she expected. ~ Cheryl Schenk, author of The Stibil Forest Adventures
Another thoughtful book from Susan Toy, set in the Caribbean island of Bequia. This is perfect weekend reading when you have the time to just enjoy the read and let your imagination go. ~ Roughseasinthemed, blogger
Whether intentional or not, there seems to be a huge character quietly looming across your book series: Bequia, the island herself. Each book, even though different, reveals more and more about her as a character and a force. Quite cool. ~ Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, blogger
Toy creates complex and flawed characters who keep your attention as they move the story forward. She brings Bequia to life with her descriptive detail and an intimate understanding of the local culture. Reading One Woman’s Island, as well as Toy’s earlier Bequia Perspectives novel, Island in the Clouds, is an immersive experience that leaves you feeling like you’ve visited the island, dined with the locals and strolled the beaches. And what a treat to find recipes for local dishes interspersed among the chapters. ~ J.P. McLean, author of The Gift series
For Dennis, my personal property manager
And in memory of friends who knew Bequia:
Ken Bergwall, Ian Bowie, Bruce Boyce, Kevin Cameron, Kathy Carpenter,
Frank Dufek, Rodger Durham, Derek Hayes, Jim Johnston,
Mariann Palmborg, Jean Poisson, Bill Sadler
There are many people who helped me along the way of writing and preparing this novel for publication, but none quite as persistent in their “encouragement” than my editor, Rachel Small, and my author-pal and personal DJ, Tim Baker. It really was never nagging on your part (because when it did become nagging I would tune you out), but I do now appreciate your persistence in reminding me to “just write and get the damn thing finished!” I truly, and likely, would never have managed to get to this point without both of you.
Thanks to Regina McCreary of Human Powered Design for formatting, design work, and sales listings for all IslandCatEditions publications.
Thanks to Pam Ferrell and “Snowy” Elvin Augustus Lewis for always coming up with the most appropriate words of local wisdom.
Thanks to Betty Jane Hegerat for sorting out my good ideas from the bad.
Thanks to fellow-author and Bequia-dweller, Felicity Harley, for deep insight into our shared locale.
Thanks to my extensive writing/blogging/publishing community, both online and in person, for the support and friendship you have provided me with over the years. You are all so much more than just a network–you are family!
Unfortunately, I sadly lost two of you during this past year … Roughseasinthemed and Lockie Young – your support and enthusiasm for my writing was always greatly appreciated and you will both be sorely missed!
And, finally, but most importantly, thank you to all readers! Thank you for taking the time to read what I write, and for telling me you enjoyed what you read! That means more to me than anything else in this process of creating and producing a book. And the fact that so many of you have also become friends is just icing on the cake (or coloured streamers on a bicycle’s handles, as JP McLean would say) and definitely encourages me to keep writing!