Category Archives: Blogs
I recently read two blog posts that resonated with me, primarily because I have been giving the entire write/publish/sell-lots-of-copies notion a rethink and am wondering how I might change the way I approach my own writing and finding new readers for it.
Please go and read both – I’ll wait …
Now, I’m not suggesting we all completely revamp our marketing plans and incorporate something as unusual as what Shaunta has created on her blog. Nor should we declare it all to be simply “snake oil sales” and write off marketing completely.
We do … or, at least, I do, need to start replacing my misbelief in marketing my writing with a better belief in my writing (and the writing of authors in general) overall – as Seth declares – and think even further outside the box – as Shaunta outlines she is doing.
Those who know me know that I’m not short on BIG ideas! I’ve posted a number of these ideas here on my blog (links are on this dedicated page) and several of these ideas came to me after reading posts and books written by Seth Godin. (If you are not subscribed to his daily blog posts, I suggest you sign up immediately. He really gets the creative juices flowing! Most Read vs. Best Sold – my purple cow is a case in point.) And I always like to think outside the box anyway … generally about the next-town-over from that box, in fact. I learned long ago that:
So, off I go to think differently, again, and revise, revamp, rejig the way I promote and find readers for my own books and for those written by author-friends. I don’t know what those changes will entail, but watch for something new on this blog and on my others, as well as in my use of social media. A change is as good as a rest, right? And that goes not just for me but for my readers and followers and fellow authors, too. In the meantime, I’m off to think and to read and to write. I do hope I can come up with some ideas that will be of use to everyone and of benefit specifically to readers out there. Maybe not quite like one of my childhood heroes …
… but you get the idea.
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!
It seems to be time – again! – to remind some “authors” out there how they should be conducting themselves in the world of promoting their books. Not everyone has bad manners, but there are enough who make it difficult for the rest of us who DO abide by those guidelines and rules and maintain decent behaviour.
This need to reiterate what I’ve railed on about before here came about after a reviewer posted this poem to her own blog – a poem that was actually a cry for help and an oblique explanation of how she’d been treated recently by indie authors she had set herself up to help promote. I reblogged her poem here then wrote to the reviewer directly to tell her I understood what she was going through.
Fortunately, this reviewer’s experience has had a happy (!) ending, or at least her problem has been resolved somewhat, to the point that she posted a follow-up poem this morning on her own blog.
I knew I’d addressed this subject of “Authors Behaving Badly” before, so I typed those words into my blog’s search thingie and found the following two posts written one after the other in Dec. 2014.
So here, for the benefit of Happymeerkatreviews and those authors who continue to behave badly when approaching reviewers and other promoters, are the two posts:
Please read and heed. And share this blog if you know authors who could benefit from my advice.
Unfortunately, there are enough authors out there who do behave badly that reviewers and promoters have had to steel themselves from abuse by creating seemingly impenetrable guidelines for submissions, and that just ruins it for the rest of the authors who do approach their own writing, publishing, and promotion in a professional manner. I’ve essentially had to close my Reading Recommendations submissions to anything unsolicited, but I also outline how authors may have their work considered for inclusion. As I say, it’s really as simple as 1-2-3!
READERS will also find this interesting (and they can *see below how they may help), but …
This post is mainly for all you angst-ridden authors out there who moan and groan about how little promotion and publicity you receive for the books you publish. Yes, it’s true, there are definitely fewer outlets reviewing books or interviewing authors. So what are we supposed to do to get the word out and attract new readers to our work?
I have a cunning plan!
When I ePublished my first novel, I received “some” attention (i.e. Not a lot …) for my efforts, but I carried on regardless and continued to promote other authors, as well as my own books, through my business Alberta Books Canada. Then I moved back to the Caribbean and become much more involved in the online writing community, especially with regards to indie authors around the world who were in the same boat as me – wondering how the heck to promote our books effectively. And how to attract new readers to books in general.
Once I became part of that community – of bloggers as well as indie authors – I realized there really WAS a lot of promotion available out there, and simply for the asking. We bloggers all usually have the same problem: what to write about for the next blog post. I discovered there were many sites looking for authors to interview and books to review, and also that were interested in posting guest spots on various subjects. So I began searching for blogs that would be interested in me and my books. Once I had a few links collected of my own promotions, I created a dedicated page for the novel on my own blog. If you click on Island in the Clouds and scroll down the page you’ll see I’ve added every link I could find. (Hint … Use Google to seach not only your own name, but the title(s) of your book(s). You’ll be amazed what comes up there!) This list on my blog is for the benefit of readers who may be interested in finding out more about me and my books. Only now I’m letting all those other sites do the talking for me.
In Nov. 2013, I began publishing another blog, Reading Recommendations, and have promoted more than 300 authors there for over 3 years. Many, many, many of these authors have “paid” me back in kind by reading and reviewing my books, interviewing me, or allowing me to post a guest spot on their blogs. I promote them, they promote me back!
So that’s how I managed to amass such an impressive looking list of promotion links for my novel!
But rather than just sit on my laurels and allow that page and those promotions to go unnoticed, I have regularly gone back to ensure those links were still valid and even reposted them all, one at a time, to social media, either Facebook or Twitter for me, thereby breathing new life into what were at the time (and still are!) excellent promotions of me and my books.
So … here’s my cunning plan for all of you out there looking for FREE ways to continue promoting your work – Do as I have done and repost any links to promotion you’ve received in the past. To make it easier on yourself, I suggest you create a page, as I did, and list everything there. That way it’s easy-peasy to go to the page, click on each link, and share it again, and at any time. I also have a Facebook page for my novels now, Bequia Perspectives Novels by Susan M. Toy, and post to that first then share on my personal Facebook page. My reasoning for reposting all of this early promotion is that I’ve attracted new readers and friends and fans over the years since these links were first published, so there’s bound to be someone out there who will be interested in reading them.
But the other thing I hope will happen – and this is the kicker, is that one of those readers who sees my reposting of promotion on social media will think enough of it to want to share with their own friends. And that, folks, is the beauty of social media … you just have no idea how far these shares will travel or who might be introduced to you and your books simply because you reposted an old promotion. Remember … no matter how long ago you may have published, your book is always new to a reader who has never read it!
Now, because I also promote other authors on my Reading Recommendations blog, I decided to start the repromotion ball rolling for that group and ran this announcement to the Facebook page, Reading Recommendations – a blog for Readers:
Here’s a promotion tip for all authors who have been featured on Reading Recommendations and reading recommendations reviewed … You’re always most welcome to re-post your promotion links anywhere, on your own website, blog and social media. You might just manage to attract new readers to your own work. I’ve been working through the lists alphabetically, trying to repost all of your promotions, but if each of you were to do this for yourselves, as well as for one or two of your fellow authors I’ve featured, there’s no telling how far the reach would be – for everyone! Besides, it’s free promotion and you’ve gotta love that!
That was a couple of days ago and, so far, I’ve noticed only 1 (ONE!) author has taken my suggestion and reposted all her RR promotions to social media. But she’s an author who constantly promotes my blog as well as promotions for other authors, so I wasn’t surprised. I am disappointed, however, that no one else has taken me up on the suggestion. So that’s why I decided to write this blog post, explaining the idea once again, and I hope to reach more of you out there. I encourage you to do as I do, in this case, and promote the pants off of whatever promotion you already have! And, while you’re at it, promote one or two – or more!, of your fellow authors, as well, because it’s not all about you, ya know … and it’s the right thing to do, so let’s share that love around!
The other thing that will happen is you will draw attention to those original links again, to the bloggers and sites where you were promoted – and, believe me, that renewed interest and increased traffic for old posts will not go unnoticed by those bloggers! You’ll be doing them a favour by attracting new readers to their sites, as well.
There you go! How to ensure FREE continuing promotion that’s right under your nose … Now get out there and share!
(And, please, I absolutely, positively encourage you to reblog this blog post on your own blog!)
*READERS, I haven’t forgotten you! Please consider getting in on this idea of free promotion by helping your favourite authors reach new readers. Whenever you see a promotion link posted, share it among your own friends, tell your book club/local library/local bookstore about the author and their books. We appreciate all the help we can get, but when you recommend our books to other readers and make them fans, that’s just pure gold! And we can’t thank you enough!
While it was impossible for me to have followed, listed, and awarded in my earlier post every blog I know of that is good, I didn’t want anyone to think they’d been forgotten. So here’s an additional list of blogs, many written by published authors, that are always interesting and informative, and will provide you with great reading! (Some of these bloggers review books, interview authors, run guest posts, reblog regularly from other blogs, and promote new publications, as well as offering solid information on writing and getting published and the book business in general, so if you are an author you would be wise to check out all the blogs on this list.)
And some have reviewed and interviewed me, as well as hosted my guest posts!
Links are included as well for those authors who have been promoted on my blog, Reading Recommendations.
Connie Flannagan – Everything Indie
Merilyn Simonds – Books Unpacked Blog
Karen Oberlaen – My train of thoughts on… Smile! Don’t look back in anger.
Mary Bailey – 1WriteWay
Sites that list publications and contests to submit to and enter, opportunities for writers:
For Your Reading Pleasure:
A site that compiles blog posts specifically tailored to your reading interest: Medium (A couple of authors I’ve promoted on Reading Recommendations contribute regularly to this forum.)
These past few years (2015 and 2014), I’ve wrapped up twelve months of blogging by listing my favourite bloggers who I have subscribed to and read, and whose blogs I believe would be of interest to my readers. Chris Graham (aka The Story Reading Ape) created this nifty badge that any of the bloggers on my list are welcome to add to their own blogs!
This year’s list is going to look a bit like a roundup of the usual suspects, as so many of my favourite bloggers continue to post to their blogs and write so well. A few of those old favourites have stopped blogging, but there are a few new discoveries this year, and one is a former book publishing colleague who is absolutely new to blogging just this week! So I’ll begin my list this year with the newbies-to-me, for variety sake.
Please do click on the links and check out these great bloggers, if you have not already discovered them yourselves. Follow them! Some offer promotion and they review books or interview authors or host guest posts, many post valuable information on writing and the book biz, even about food and restaurants, and not just a few are also authors in their own right and have been featured on my blog (I’ve linked to their promotion pages), a couple are editors, and there are a couple of longtime personal friends (meaning, I’ve actually met them face-to-face!) in this list, as well.
And a new blog by retired publisher Ginny Miller and her husband that I look forward to following. Leaving Ourselves Behind will report on their travels throughout the world.
And the Usual Suspects!
Matilda Magtree – Carin Makuz
Canary Gal – Gwenith Whitford
Bill Corbett – Marathon Mouth
And a very special mention goes to two extremely inspired blogs that are still being published:
If you happen to be looking for some great books to read, check out my Best Books Read in 2016 series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Or have a look at my two other blogs: Reading Recommendations and reading recommendations reviewed.
Thanks to Abraham Phillips, who is currently reading both my novels, and sent this photo of Island in the Clouds on his eReader in front of his lovely Pink Christmas Tree! The tree, and Abraham, are located in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, and he is
an avid a voracious reader of all books!
So, thanks, Abraham, for playing along in my Where/Who in the World is Reading promotion, but mainly for reading my books!! And for allowing Island in the Clouds to rock around that Pink Christmas Tree of yours!
Earlier in the summer, I wrote and posted this to my blog: Why not read books simply because they’re well-written?
Then I asked Chris Graham, aka The Story Reading Ape, to create three memes that promoted three of the ideas I’d covered in this post: Ask for a meme …
For the purpose of this challenge, I want to focus on the suggestion in one of these memes …
Why not, indeed?
I recently began following two Facebook pages that were set up for the benefit of Readers. The gist of both sites was an exchange of reading recommendations and a place where readers could find out what they might want to read next. On the one site, there were a lot of rules posted restricting Indie Authors as to how much they could self-promote. Understandably so. However, authors were also restricted from posting links to our own blogs, and I was reprimanded by admin., even though my blog link in question was a list of the best books I had read this past year and not self-promotion at all. I’d apparently over-stepped the limit of one self-promotion post per week on the site. I’ve removed all my previous posts from that site and have stopped posting there altogether. I know, it is their site and they are allowed to make and administer the rules. But, in the meantime, other site members will never see that list of books by other authors I was recommending they consider reading. Not my own books, mind you, but the books of many other fine authors.
Meanwhile, I continue to read posts by other site members in which they’re asking for reading recommendations – and contributing to discussions surrounding reading books written by the same-old bestselling authors or series or genres that the members have already been reading. And no one is asking for something new, something different, something outside of their comfort zone. An author who is new-to-them who will make the reader stand up and take notice and have that reader recommending the author to every other reader they know.
So, this is my challenge to all readers out there … And this includes all authors, as well, because you’re all also readers, right? (If you answer “No” to that, then SHAME ON YOU! You SHOULD be reading. You can’t write well if you don’t read. But that leads us to another blog post: Writer = Reader. And I digress …)
Here’s what I challenge all Readers to do:
1. Discover a new-to-you author. Look for authors who write a different genre than you usually read.
2. Purchase a copy of their book or borrow from the library. (Preferably purchase. I understand if you can’t afford to buy. However, I give you the inimitable Seumas Gallacher as an example of someone who supports Indie Authors by making a point of purchasing one Indie-Authored book a month. That kind of committment is not going to break the bank.)
4. If you enjoyed what you read, tell your friends and other readers. And if you REALLY enjoyed what you read, become a champion of that author. Read more of their books. Follow them on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, their blog. Write a review if you like to write reviews. Post your recommendation to your own blog or social media sites. Spread the word about this new-to-you author as far as you possibly can. (If you want to write a review and don’t have your own blog or don’t like posting to Amazon, contact me about publishing your review on reading recommendations reviewed or this blog.)
5. Write to the author directly to tell them how much you enjoyed their book. Trust me! We love receiving fan mail!!
6. Repeat #s 1-5. Many times.
I know you’re probably thinking, “It’s easy for her to say. She’s an author who has connections to lots of other authors and knows where to find new books to read. Where the heck am I going to find these new-to-me authors and their books?”
Well, yes, I am well connected, but I have discovered many of the authors I now enjoy reading by watching for listings on Goodreads, Facebook, and mainly through other bloggers. So here’s a list of places where you might consider looking for suggestions on the next great book you’re going to read so you may become part of my challenge!
And blogs written by many friends who support their fellow authors:
Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life, Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore
Chris The Story Reading Ape – Authors Hall of Fame
Allan Hudson – South Branch Scribbler
Tricia Drammeh – Authors to Watch
Dylan Hearn – Suffolk Scribblings: Recommended Reads
Anne Logan – I’VE READ THIS
Mary Bailey – 1WriteWay: A Different Kind of Book Review
There are many, many more. I leave it up to you, Readers, to discover the best places for finding your own new-to-you authors. Don’t forget the local library, too! Most libraries have websites, and librarians are always eager to create and post lists of books that will be of interest to their patrons. (And, thanks to Calgary Public Library, my first novel, Island in the Clouds, has been listed on two such lists, their Around the World in 14 Mysteries and Accidental Sleuths and my second novel on the eponymously named One Woman’s Island recommendations!)
One other source for discovering new-to-you authors – especially poets, in this case – and even new-to-you music, as well, is Bob Chelmick’s The Road Home. This is 24-hour streaming of Bob’s radio program’s that have long been featured on CKUA Radio. Give it a listen. It’s addicting!! (I’m listening as I write this and just heard one of my favourite authors, Robert Kroetsch, reading his poetry.)
So, off you go! You’ll find a lot of fun in the discovery, but I hope you find even more enjoyment in the reading!
Ready, set … READ!
(No need to comment here that you’re taking my challenge, unless you do find a new-to-you author you’d like to crow about. I always welcome accolades for authors! And if you already review books and authors on your own blog, please include your link in the comments section below.)