Category Archives: mystery

Following My Own Writing Advice – a guest blog post by C. Hope Clark

I am pleased to have this opportunity to post an original article written by C. Hope Clark as part of her “Guest Author” blog tour to promote her latest novel, Murder on Edisto that has just been released by Bell Bridge Books. I have been a long-time subscriber to Hope’s very informative and useful Funds for Writers newsletter, and have enjoyed reading her previous mysteries. Here’s Hope!

As a writer who wears two hats, mystery author and commercial freelance entrepreneur, I’m often asked for advice when I speak, guest blog, and appear on radio shows. With 15 years in the business, I’m loaded with suggestions. However, I’m also quick to tell people to listen to their own gut, and not allow someone else’s journey to dictate their own. But every once in a while, someone comes out of the blue and asks me, “Do you follow your own advice?”

Picture the author at a book signing, behind five stacks of books, the room stuffed with eager readers. All everyone can think of is how that guy signing books has his act together or he wouldn’t be where he is. He has to be wise, as well as disciplined. We want to be him. We yearn to know his secrets. To reach his pinnacle, he has to have developed mantras along the way that cut through the noise and crap that deter the rest of us. If you spoke to him one-on-one, maybe you’d learn that he’s loaded with foibles and flaws and has stumbled along the way like everyone else, but he’s risen above it all like some miraculous phoenix and turned ashes into gold.


Murder on Edisto is my fourth mystery and newest release. It’s my most solid book, in my opinion. I wrote it differently than the other mysteries, and in writing its sequel, I’m on an entirely different path there, too. The lessons I learned and advice I preached when I toured with my first, second and third novels aren’t necessarily applicable today. So what advice is there to follow with such an erratic set of standards?

What are the tools and guidelines a novelist uses to reach this stage in my career? I’m not a millionaire author, but I’m maintaining one contract after the other with a traditional press. I remember when I looked up to those authors who stood where I am now. And when I was at that stage, I recall being hungry for their advice. Lay it out for me and I’ll do it, I thought. Just show me the way and I promise I’ll do whatever you say.

However, the rules I followed for Lowcountry Bribe weren’t applicable to Palmetto Poison. The thoughts I had creating and marketing the Carolina Slade Series don’t necessarily match the needs of my new Edisto Island Mysteries. No two books evolved the same way, frankly.

We grow with each new word we put on a page, with each good book we absorb, with each blog post we read, with each setback we have to overcome. So what rules can we follow that empower us to continue the writing journey when nothing is stable?

1) Be kind to yourself.
2) Believe in your potential.
3) Don’t measure yourself by others.
4) Strive to write each page better than the one before.
5) Write daily.

Set out with your tools and know you will falter. But only the diligent survive this trek. Along the way, you learn you are your best ally, your loudest cheerleader, your kindest shoulder. You will cheer some days and cry others. And what you tried last year won’t work today.

But the advice I’ve adhered to from day one as a writer is this: I will write through it all. That’s the best prescription I can hand to anyone, because it’s worked for me.

2014-06-13 16.56.56 C. Hope Clark feels her latest mystery release, Murder on Edisto, is her strongest. It’s the first in her debut Edisto Island Mysteries from Bell Bridge Books. Her award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series is also known for its suspense and rural South Carolina locale. Hope’s other persona is editor of, chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years. She lives on the bank of Lake Murray in central SC, with frequent trips to her beloved Edisto Beach.
Hope’s Website
Funds for Writers

C. Hope Clark is featured on Reading Recommendations on Oct.1, 2014.

Reviews of Island in the Clouds!

Wow!! There is no better way to begin a Saturday morning (or any morning!) than by opening not one but two emails in which the senders have notified you of reviews they’ve written of your book!

Many thanks to roughseainthemed for writing and posting to her blog this very thorough review:

Bequia? Where on earth is Bequia?

Thank you as well to A., a UK reader who wishes to remain anonymous. He contacted me after reading Island in the Clouds to tell me he had bought and read the book while on Bequia for a holiday this past spring. He has given me permission to post the full review from his email on my blog:

Island in the clouds is a gripping murder mystery story set on the small Caribbean island of Bequia.

The story isn’t what you expect and is all the better for it!

I loved how Toy doesn’t just portray life on the island as some blissful paradise but goes for life as it is which makes the novel feel very authentic. The characters are drawn from across the full spectrum of island life and Toy expertly develops and blends them as the plot progresses. The twist and turns throughout are managed perfectly and this is a book that you won’t want to put down.

I was on holiday with my family in Bequia whilst I was reading Island in the Clouds. This meant the places quickly resonated and we were able to track most of the locations down during our stay. The book really enhanced our visit to Bequia providing context and a backdrop to our holiday and a narrative from which to explore. Without it we would never have discovered Nando’s restaurant, known about Moonhole or the history behind Frangi’s.

I had this on Kindle and whilst in Bequia purchased a print copy from the bookshop in Port Elizabeth. Not surprisingly this has been top of my friends wish lists since we’ve been back!

In summary a great story in its own right but an absolute must for anyone visiting Bequia to really unlock everything on the island to you.

This review in particular really pleases me because, unlike the concerns voiced by some early readers that my story of murder and incompetent police would scare away potential tourists from the island, A. is telling us that he used my novel as a kind of guidebook and discovered aspects of Bequia he might not otherwise have learned about during his holiday. And he’s recommending the book to his friends!

For me, it doesn’t get any better than that!

So, thank you again to roughseainthemed and A.intheUK for reading and recommending Island in the Clouds, and for making many points in both their reviews that will now assist me while writing the next novel in the Bequia Perspectives Series. I take all comments seriously and know that reviewers help me become a better writer.

While I have your attention, allow me to post links to two interviews that bloggers conducted with me recently:
Allan Hudson on South Branch Scribbler – 4Q Interview with award-winnning author Susan Toy
Tricia Drammeh on Authors to Watch – Interview with Susan M. Toy

Jerold Last – an update on a new release

Jerold Last was featured on Reading Recommendations Jan. 9, 2014. He’s back now to tell us of some exciting news about a new publication!

Galapagos Cover

“The Origin of Murder”, Roger and Suzanne, accompanied by their young son Robert and his nanny Bruce, take a vacation cruise through the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles west of Ecuador. In the Pacific Ocean, Suzanne finds a dead body floating with a couple of bullet holes in it, and we’re off to solve another deadly mystery. Among the suspects is a mysterious travel agent with an eye-opening secret, a cheerful bird watching couple from Germany, a happy honeymooning newlywed couple, two stunning sensual sisters from San Francisco, an older couple from Australia working through their bucket list, and a couple from Uruguay seeing the wonders of the world while they can. Lurking in the background behind the scene are a shadowy Ecuadorian general and Roger and Suzanne’s old friend Eduardo Gomez, a Paraguayan policeman. The eighth book in this popular mystery series, which invites previous readers to revisit the characters as old friends, can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

Available from Amazon Worldwide

Mike Martin – update on a new release

Mike Martin, previously promoted on Reading Recommendations Nov. 25, 2013, is back to tell us about his new Sgt. Windflower mystery and a special offer!


Finally!! It’s here!! Beneath the Surface is now ready for pre-order in Canada, the United States and around the world. The third installment of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series is coming off the press and now available for order from Chapters/Indigo, Amazon and E-book versions are coming soon.

Yes, Sgt. Windflower is back on the scene of the crime. He is joined again by his trusted ally Eddie Tizzard, his rock-steady girl, Sheila, and a wide cast of supporters. Together they face down an international crime syndicate operating on the East Coast, and help Windflower deal with the modern challenges of sexual harassment and corruption while re-discovering his roots and inner strength.

You can order Beneath the Surface from:

And follow Sgt. Windflower on Facebook

Jerold Last – an update and a new puppy!

Jerold Last was featured on Reading Recommendations Jan. 9, 2014. He’s back now to tell us of some exciting news!

Cover Surreal Killer

News updates: An earlier novel in the series, The Surreal Killer, received a nice award as the Indie Book of the Day Awardee, Sept. 7, 2013.

The Surreal Killer is a gripping story that seamlessly mixes the genre of whodunit thriller and the theme of travel to exotic places to introduce the reader to the regional culture and history of the Incas while a mysterious modern-day murderer proves that we reap what we sow. This psychological thriller takes us deep into the mind of a serial killer as the suspense mounts to a shocking conclusion. The plot blends murder, intrigue, and the 20th Century history of Chile with the genesis of a serial killer.
Available from Amazon Worldwide


Also Jolie, the model for Juliet the show dog in The Deadly Dog Show, became a proud grandmother in real life. One of the puppies, Ries, has joined our pack of dogs and is now bossing his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother around.

Ries stacked 5 months

Finally, a new book in the series entitled The Origin Of Murder will be published soon on Amazon. Here’s a cover reveal …

Galapagos Cover