Category Archives: Bequia
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 speciaized. 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 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 who 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!”
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.
These are the two ads Wilfred created and Nicola will be running for me in their weekly flyer.
And here’s the link to the magazine flip version of
Bequia This Week
Everything you need to know that’s going on in and around the island of Bequia!
New editions available every Friday.
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!
As my friend, Betty Jane Hegerat has said previously, this is the virus that just keeps on giving … and giving, and giving, it seems. I don’t know if it’s because the weather suddenly turned hot again over the past couple of days, but I had begun to notice that same pain in my shoulder again, which was where the virus began for me in Aug. 2014, and that I was tired, generally achy and headachachy, yet was a total insomniac last night. Then today, I’m scattered (hence the “Chikungunya Brain” in the title) and my eyes are sore and tired.
And it’s not just me! I’ve spoken with 3 others who also had the virus in 2014 who say they’ve noticed symptoms returning lately. Never as bad as when we first had it, but still not pleasant to experience any of this again. Dennis was the one who suggested the return of hot weather may have triggered the symptoms to start up again. He could be right.
While I’m dealing with Chikungunya Brain, I’ll be stepping away from the computer a bit – which may, in fact, be a good thing. I’ve started sorting and packing for my trip back to Canada in April, so I certainly have enough to do otherwise with my time and concentration.
And for those of you who are reading this and saying, “Chikun-what??” here’s a link to the first blog post I wrote about this nasty virus, Chikungunya – you cannot begin to imagine. You’ll find links to the other 11 blog posts I wrote about ChikV here. I had queued up a 13th post with the title, Chikungunya and Zika, they just keep on ticking … way back in early Feb. of this year, but never got around to actually posting that. So here’s the article about Zika that was going to be about.
Finally, I’m sorry to report that I STILL have people finding my blog by using search terms like, “pain and numbness in hands from Chikungunya” and “how long will pain from Chikungunya last?” I find this particularly sad as there’s really no cure for this virus and, as I and my friends are discovering, ChikV will continue to keep on giving, and ticking, and will likely come back to wreak havoc with my shoulder, my muscles, my eyes and my brain for a very long time to come. Urgh!!
As readers of my new novel, One Woman’s Island, have discovered, I included local Bequia recipes at the end of each chapter to give you all a “flavour” of what the food is like that the book’s characters eat.
Also at the end I included a recipe for an Island in the Clouds cocktail I invented that Sharon Wilson and Dan Erkelens kindly tested and reviewed here on reading recommendations reviewed.
One Woman’s Island is a very personal book, and one thing I definitely share with the main character is a love of good food and cooking. Over the years living on Bequia I’ve had the opportunity to develop my cooking skills and have become quite a good baker. Of course, it helps to have a pizza/bread oven close by …
I also developed a recipe for cinnamon buns that produces a light and fluffy bun not cloyingly sweet. (Recipe is in the book.)
So, if you haven’t read my novel yet, you’re in for a taste treat as well as (I think) a good story!
But now I’m coming to the reason for the title of this blog post, and I want to know …
What’s Cookin’ in YOUR kitchen!
Everyone has a recipe that’s special to them, either something your mother made for the family or a favourite recipe you’ve “owned” over the years – your party trick! – that receives accolades whenever you serve it. Or it could be that you now live in a different culture altogether (as I have) and you’ve discovered some local specialty you find very appealing and representative of the place and its people. So here’s what I’m asking you to do …
Please share that recipe with us! If you have a blog, please write a post – link to this blog post then tell your own story about the importance of your recipe. Include the complete recipe and add a photo of the dish as it’s served, if possible. But please do give us the background information as to why this particular recipe is so important. (If you do not write a blog, please contact me if you would like to participate and I will create a separate blog post for you here.)
Even if you are not a cook yourself, I’m sure you can think of something you’ve enjoyed eating during your lifetime, something that has significance to you. I want to hear about it!
In a way, we’ll be creating a kind of online cookbook for other readers to enjoy.
And … just in case you were wondering, this is what half of a 22-dozen order for bagels looks like.
And definitely not from some flounder!
But this is what I can call a message I really like!
Not all readers like to write reviews and post them online, and I get that! So I will never ask anyone to review my books or post their thoughts if they don’t wish to do so.
However, I do know many readers, especially friends, like to tell me their thoughts and impressions about my books after they’ve read something I’ve written. They quite often write to me privately in an email, or they tell me in person when I meet up with them. So I then ask if I may post their comments to my blog, and will do so anonymously, if that’s what they wish.
Here are comments from two friends who had previously read Island in the Clouds and have now told me what they think of One Woman’s Island …
Friend #1 (received by email):
I loved reading One Woman’s Island. I enjoyed it so much that at one point, I wished the story wouldn’t end! I appreciated that Marianne was such a strong character. She believed in her values and did not cave in when she encountered opposing views. Keep writing, Sue. I look forward to your next book. Violet
Friend #2 (From a conversation):
I enjoyed the development of the characters, particularly Tex, who I had no sympathy with initially, but came to like him. Mariana reflects the views of a lot of people who come to the island, who are invasive and intrusive, and get it all wrong. She irritated the hell out of me and at times I wanted to slap her! I really enjoyed the change in speed between life on Bequia and the slow pace of the tranquil garden in several scenes. There should be a place like that on this island where people can sit in private and not be overheard, enjoying a coffee or tea completely out of sight. (smt: Well, there is my own verandah at The View. Although I do quite like my imagined garden in the novel.) I actually felt that what you’ve done is left enough strings untied that what I want most is to read the next book.
Friend #1 has visited us on Bequia, but I have known her since 1979, shortly after we moved to Calgary. We have been friends ever since. She is an artist and has always encouraged my writing.
Friend #2 owns a house on Bequia and has been coming to the island for many years. She’s supported my books wholeheartedly and keeps print copies in her house for rental guests to read. (And if you’re thinking of coming to Bequia, I do recommend you check out this friend’s house – send me an email for details.)
Both women are avid readers, so I am particularly flattered by their comments.
As well, I received a wonderful review of my book from author and friend, Timothy Phillips. (The link will take you to his promotion on my blog.) He did post to both Amazon and Facebook, but I just had to share with you here what he has said:
I was fortunate to read Susan Toy’s first book, Island in the Clouds. This is set on the Caribbean island of Bequia and murders will take place – guaranteed. We don’t have to wait long – a body turns up floating in the swimming pool almost on page one. It’s an exciting read all the way through.
Toy’s second book is also set in Bequia, which is where she resides for half the year. She knows the island intimately and she knows the people, both the ex-pat community and locals and has weaved this backdrop effectively into her story. We will have to wait a third of the way into her book before we have full proof of skullduggery and mischief. Yet, right from the beginning, we have ominous warning of some malevolent presence of things to come through the almost incoherent rambling conversation of three children. So, we’re prepared to wait. It reminds me of the witches’ scene in Act One, Scene One of Macbeth.
We all, especially if we live in the cold North, have images in our mind of paradise on earth – a warm sunny climate, pristine beaches, plentiful exotic fruits, smiling locals speaking in a patois that has a lilting and colourful charm – easy to be enchanted here, nice place to visit. Might even consider moving here if suddenly there was upheaval in one’s life.
That happens to the protagonist, Mariana who has come to Bequia with her two cats for an extended visit to mend from a marriage that ended. She’s naive but well-intentioned – perhaps she’s enervated by sunshine and dazzled by vibrant blue skies. She wants to contribute meaningfully and yet her perception of life on the island through seemingly rose-tinted spectacles is far different from reality.
The tension in Toy’s story builds magnificently, the main characters are intriguing colourful individuals and she develops them masterfully. There are few that will predict the outcome of the story and we are left guessing right to the end.
Toy is an interested foodie and has obviously experimented with local dishes. At the end of some chapters, she has included the recipes for these. It gives one a chance to take a breath and reminds me of the opportunity to stretch, get a snack or an ice cream at Intermission. One needs that.
And I loved your review, Tim! Thank you so much for reading and telling everyone! I especially like the reference you made to Macbeth – Nice!
If anyone else has read and enjoyed any of my books, but is kind of shy about putting their comments out there, your secret identity is safe with me! Just send me an email, susanmtoy (at) gmail.com, tell me what you think, and give me permission to post either with your name or without. As I said in a blog post I wrote earlier this year, A small request of all my readers …
Thank you, to all readers, from the bottom of my heart!
Felicity Harley has been previously promoted on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and was also a guest on this blog, writing about book clubs. I recently assisted Felicity by beta-reading and polish-editing this latest novel of hers and was struck by the fact that she told me she was referring to it as “Science AND Fiction” rather than the better-known genre of Science Fiction, so I asked her to explain why.
I’ve always been a fan of science fiction. My favorite writers are Herbert, Asimov, Bradbury and Orwell. I tend to like science fiction writers who explore what happens to human beings within the context of societies like ours which divorce us from our essential humanity. That’s why I like Farenheit 451, 1984 and The End of Eternity.
I think Herbert was quite prescient when he wrote Dune, because he imagined a planet and human beings living there who had to exist without water. In fact, he was one of the first authors to popularize the importance of preserving our planet’s ecology. In my mind as well, all these authors in one way or another, examine the relationships between religion, politics and power, and also between bureaucracy and government.
Because of my own fascination with these themes, and because I’m also a student of social science by training, I set out to write a quartet of novels placing a group of humans in a futuristic society that had failed to stop runaway climate change. I was fascinated by Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, and both she and her book served as inspirations to me.
Before reading Naomi Klein however, I had written what is now the fourth book in the quartet, My Quantum Life. This book was based on Michael Talbot’s book, The Holographic Universe. I have always been fascinated by the spiritual aspects of quantum physics, and Talbot’s book put the science of it all into perspective. It was very readable for a neophyte like myself, and it clicked.
The Burning Years is the first book in my four book series titled Until This Last and has just been published by Double Dragon Press. It explores a lot of hard science around space travel, bionics, and what is causing climate change. Besides Klein, my mentor for this book was Dr. Rachel Armstrong. On my site for the book you’ll find out all about her. She is a remarkable woman and a brilliant scientist. Dr. Rachel Chen, who in my novel is captain of the world ship Persephone, is based on how I imagine Armstrong to be. In my book, Persephone is a human ark; this actually exists, and is being conceived of right now by Rachel Armstrong and a team of scientists. It’s built around the idea of a renewable chemical technology called protocells. In the future, protocells could replace plastics and also animal products and will be essential in the preservation of our planet.
My ark explores Mars and Europa then sets sail for Alpha Centauri. The Australian scientist Wallace Thornhill was very helpful to me as I wrote these sections. He introduced me to an electrical universe and warm nuclear fusion technology, and I learned more from him on this subject than I ever thought I was capable. He would send me wonderful emails that took me several days to decode. His final words to me were, “Don’t worry about the science, leave that to scientists, use your writing as a springboard for your imagination.”
Besides hard science however, The Burning Years explores lots of ways we could live on a burnt out planet in the future, and it has two re-engineered transhuman beings who do just that. Introducing them as characters allowed me to explore the whole field of Artificial Intelligence and how two super humans, a male and female, might think and act. Again the social scientist at play. How would their biology, psychology and past influence them. How would their male and female genetics and gender-biases, play a part?
The arc of the plot is set against a U.S. government of plutocrats that has fled underground, who have saved themselves and a few others, the brightest and the best. Of course there are insurgents, and one of them is a female scientist who is heavily involved in geo-engineering the weather. The book takes place about sixty years in the future, just around the time when we may experience dramatic effects from climate change.
I deliberately did not want to write a dystopian book, but one that was full of hope based on our finer instincts as a species, our desire to return to smaller communities, and our current and future knowledge of technology. I am not good with violence, unlike George R.R. Martin who very skillfully explores all those dark sides of humanity and creates fabulous villains. My villains tend to be more grey and struggle internally with a lot of philosophical and moral dilemmas. My women are very strong, just like Martin’s, and my main female character, Inanna. would definitely be friends with Daeneyrs Targaryen.
Now I just have to figure out how to get people to take climate change seriously. I plan to use the book as a tool to get readers involved. The Burning Years is being published as an eBook by Double Dragon Publishing in April 2017. I chose Deron Douglas as my publisher because he loved the book on first read, and I just couldn’t take a chance waiting for other big-name SF publishers to give me an answer.
Please check out my site to buy the book and I would appreciate it if you review it on Amazon for me. And, while on my site, see how you can become involved with 350.org or any other organizations working to stop elements of man-made climate change, so as to keep our planet safe and livable in the future.
Felicity’s new novel has recently been promoted on Reading Recommendations. She is also a fellow-Bequian!
It may not seem like much of a step to you, but I did assign an ISBN this morning for a future print edition of my most recent novel, One Woman’s Island! And that’s cause for celebration in my books!
There’s still a lot of prep work to be done on designing and formatting the text, cover – front and back, as well as spine, and the actual printing and delivery … all of which also will cost $$$.
So, in an effort to help me pay for the cost of printing, I’m hoping that all those readers who wanted a print copy will now step forward to place a prepaid order for it before I actually do go to print. (I anticipate those print copies will be ready by May.)
We did this the last time when I printed copies of Island in the Clouds and it worked quite well. So let’s try again, shall we? Here’s how the prepayment orders work:
(All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.)
The retail price of the book will be around $20., so I’m offering 3 levels of participation.
1) Prepay $20 and you will receive one signed copy of the book.
2) Prepay $35 and you will receive one signed copy of the book plus your name will be included in a list of sponsors that will appear in the final first edition of the print book.
3) Prepay $50 and you will receive one signed copy of a limited edition (only 18 copies) of the print book and your name will be included in a list of sponsors that will appear in the final first edition of print book.
Postage/shipping charges to send books to you will be extra and determined at the time of shipping.
If you are interested in helping me in advance to get my novel published in a print edition, please send an email to susanmtoy (at) gmail.com with the message “Pre-order Print” and let me know which level of payment you’d like to make. Also, if you have any further questions, I’ll be happy to answer them by email. (Please do not comment below.)
Thanks in advance to all Readers for your support, and for all the support you have already given to me and my publications! I wouldn’t be where I am now without ALL of you!!