Category Archives: That Last Summer

Have you read my writing?

I’m just curious as to how many readers have actually read what I’ve written and how many of those readers have read more than just one piece of writing I’ve published so far. So I created this poll and would appreciate it if you would click on whatever you’ve read. And please leave any comments below as well, if you’d like to say something about my writing. I’m all ears!

Here are links to everything listed in the poll:

Island in the Clouds
One Woman’s Island
That Last Summer
Links to 6 Short Stories

Thank you to all readers! You are the reason we writers write.

One Woman’s Island – Fan mail and reviews!

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.

Loved it.

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!

GoReadMe! Campaign – Susan M. Toy’s books

In August this year, I had a great idea … and the very kind Seumas Gallacher allowed me space on his blog to not only write about the GoReadMe! Campaign, but also offered to be the first to have his books promoted using it.

He’s a brave man! While we may not have reached the target of readers we wished to attract within the time period we allowed, there were a fair number of new readers who discovered Gallacher’s books through this promotion, so I was pleased with the response.

I’m back now to do the same for my own writing, since I recently published a new novel in the Bequia Perspectives series. Here’s the background to the idea:

First, let’s go back a little way in time to a blog post I published in March of this year on the perennial subject that’s of interest to all authors – Looking for Readers in All the Right Places. (I had actually blogged about this dilemma a couple of times previous and those links are included in this post. If you are an author looking for readers then I suggest you read about all my previous ideas.)

We’re all familiar with the GoFundMe campaigns. They come in many different guises and are meant to help creators and business people raise the necessary funds required to launch and cover the expenses of producing a project by involving their friends directly in that financing.

So I posed the question, What about setting up a campaign called GoReadMe, and instead of raising money we raise awareness for reading and reading our books in particular?

That’s essentially the idea and how the campaign came to life. Here’s how it works:

We make the announcement that we are beginning a GoReadMe! Campaign for an author and we’re looking for 50 new readers who will “pledge” to read either one of the author’s books or a specific title. Not only will they pledge to read the book themselves, but they’ll also agree to recommend that book to another reader who will join in on the GoReadMe! Campaign. That way, we only need to find 25 unique readers, because those new readers will find the other 25 for us. The campaign lasts a month, during which time the author, and the author’s friends, promote the campaign, and the author keeps a public tally on their blog of the number of people who have pledged, and their names (or those who wish to remain “anonymous”), who have committed to reading a book and finding other new readers for it. Simple!

And, if friends have already read the author’s book(s) but still wish to become involved in the GoReadMe! Campaign, they can help by promoting this idea to their friends, encouraging others to become involved in reading this author’s great books!

In the end, what the “Readers” receive by pledging in this way is a warm/fuzzy feeling of not only discovering and reading a new book by a great author, but also the knowledge that they are helping to promote reading in general by becoming involved in this campaign in particular and encouraging more people to read.

By the way, I believe that the personal recommendation of a book by a friend is a much more effective way (word-of-mouth) of promoting a book than any review on Amazon or Goodreads, so that’s why I’m not suggesting that “write a review” be a requisite for readers pledging to take part in this campaign. No pressure, folks! Just pledge to read the book and find at least one other new reader. What can be simpler than that?

So, without further ado …

Announcing … the GoReadMe! Campaign for Susan M. Toy!

We need 50 people to pledge to read at least one of Susan’s books (listed below) and to recommend to one other reader that they do the same. You have 30 Days during which to pledge. This Campaign ends on Jan. 8, 2017. Please sign up in the comments section of this blog post. Thanks for taking part in this new GoReadMe! Campaign!

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One Woman’s Island

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Island in the Clouds

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That Last Summer

(By the way, ALL of my eBooks are available on Overdrive for libraries worldwide. If you prefer to read borrowed eBooks from your local library, you will be doing me a huge favour by recommending the library consider adding my book(s) to their collecction. Thank you!!)

There you have it, Folks! Please consider pledging (below in the comments section) and recommending my books to other readers. Share and retweet this post at will! Let’s try to make this GoReadMe! Campaign idea a “Thing”, okay?

A small request of all my readers …

iitcYes, I know this news is going to be hard to believe, but after 4 years in publication (both as an eBook and in print) Island in the Clouds will finally have a sister-novel to share your shelf or space on your eReader! I finished writing an umpteenth draft of One Woman’s Island a week-and-a-half ago and now it’s in the hands of my editor, Rachel Small. I think at this point in time, after writing and rewriting the story of Mariana on Bequia these past 12 years, I’m more relieved than excited. Now comes the ultra hard work of preparing the final edited manuscript for ePublication, sometime later this year.onewomanisland-cover-draft-3

That publication date has been moved back further, however, because yesterday I discovered this link to a competition for which the new novel qualifies. But the novel needs to be unpublished. Might as well give that a shot first, I thought. What is there to lose? Other than more time before I can actually publish it.

18598024So, while I wait for the edit to be completed and the MS to be prepared for submission to this contest, I figured it was as good a time as any to promote my writing in general, and build more awareness of the Bequia Perspectives Novels as well as my IslandShorts novella, That Last Summer. And this brings me around to my “request” in the blog post title …

If you have read either Island in the Clouds or That Last Summer (or both!) and enjoyed reading them – but you haven’t yet posted a review online about either, I would appreciate you doing so now, on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, your library’s website, or your own blog. I’m hoping to build up awareness for my writing in general so when I begin promoting the publication of One Woman’s Island I have a solid fan base in place who will do the heavy-lifting of informing and, hopefully, exciting different readers about the new book. If you have already posted something to do with me or my writing on your own blog I have likely added that link to this page or this one. If your interview or review are not listed there, please let me know so I can include you.IS (Also, now available as an eBook, One Woman’s Island!)

Now, I know some readers are shy and don’t want their thoughts and opinions posted in public, and especially not online. I appreciate and understand that feeling! If you have read my books though and enjoyed them enough to want to tell me about that enjoyment, then please send me an email (susanmtoy (at) gmail.com). Your review can be as brief as you’d like to make it. And I promise never to divulge your name if you want to remain anonymous, but do let me know if I may post and quote your comments on my blog – without your name attached! – so potential readers have a chance to see what “someone” thinks of my books and my writing. Whatever you decide, please do write and tell me whatever it is that you think. The best way for any author to improve is to listen to comments made by their readers. After all, it’s you we’re writing for in the first place!

What I hope to achieve by all this, of course, is a build-up of word-of-mouth promotion. You who are already satisfied readers will become, I hope, the foot soldiers in my campaign to promote the new book. If you DO want me to quote you in future publicity then let me know I may use your name. A review with a real name has so much more credibility, and I’ll be using the best of those as bullets (not real gun bullets, of course!) and endorsements when I finally do release the next book in my Bequia series.

The other way for you to become involved in this promotion campaign of mine is by telling your friends about my books, and encouraging them to read what I’ve already published. Then, if they like what they read, they will anticipate the future publication of my books. A readership is something we authors build one reader at a time … and by writing books readers enjoy reading.

So thanks to everyone for reading through my post, and for any help you may be able to offer.

And remember … I am but one author out here who is writing and publishing. There are many, many others who can also use a hand in the promotion of their books. Never discount the effect your personal recommendation has on any book you read and enjoy. Please don’t keep that enjoyment to yourself – tell others about it! An author’s success may just depend on your initial recommendation! (I feel so strongly about this concept that I created the Reading Recommendations blog.) And for those of you who would like to take this a step or two further, here are 99 Ways to Spread the Word About a Book You Love.

Thanks for reading – and commenting and reviewing! I could never have come this far without all of you loyal readers, and I appreciate every single one of you!

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Another successful Goodreads Giveaway!!

My recent Goodreads Giveaway for 5 copies of my novel, Island in the Clouds, has been a big success, as far as I’m concerned!

797 Readers from 7 countries (Canada, US, GB, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) entered during the 3 weeks this contest ran, and 5 were chosen by the Goodreads Team to receive print copies. I’ll be mailing those books out to the winners in the US (4) and GB (1) on Monday.

There were only a very few Readers who commented on the blog post announcement of this contest. I was running another Giveaway for eBooks there, since we can only give away print copies through Goodreads. So I’ve decided that everyone who commented will win, and I’ll be notifying those commentors about their eBook prizes later today. (Quite frankly, I’m surprised that so few Readers took me up on this offer. Maybe I should have run a contest separate from the Goodreads Giveaway for the eBook versions of my books, but then my experience has been that few people ever comment to enter when these offers are made. Why is that, I wonder …?)

So now we’re down to 4 Reading Recommendations Authors who are still running their Goodreads Giveaways, and I will continue to promote their contests for each of them.

Best of luck to everyone who enters!

Some promotion for ME – Susan M. Toy

I’m so busy promoting other authors all the time that I don’t get around to tooting my own horn about my books or myself as often as I possibly might do. So it always comes as a great surprise and delight to me whenever any of these authors I’ve been promoting in turn offers me some means of getting my name out there or posts a review of one of my books!

Michell Plested, who was previously featured on Reading Recommendations, interviewed me for his own series, Get Published, and that has been posted here on Irreverent Muse. Hope you enjoy listening!

And I recently received a second 5-star review from Tricia Drammeh, this time after she read my novel, Island in the Clouds! Here’s the link to that review on Goodreads. The first 5-star review Tricia wrote was for my novella, That Last Summer, and you may read that review by clicking here. Tricia Drammeh will be featured on Reading Recommendations later this week.

And, still available until Nov. 1st, you may enter the Goodreads Giveaway I’m running to win one of 5 print copies of Island in the Clouds or – if you prefer an eBook edition, comment on this blog post to win either the novel or the novella. It’s as simple as that!

To see a complete list of reviews of my books and interviews I’ve done, please click here.

The Review Challenge

As many of you know, I have written and self-published a novel, Island in the Clouds, and a novella, That Last Summer, and I’ve been promoting both through whatever means I can – mainly on social media and by advertising locally on Bequia and in Minden, where the stories are set. But I’ve mainly been depending on word-of-mouth promotion, hoping that readers who enjoy reading what I’ve written will tell their friends about these books, either directly or by reviewing the books and commenting on them on social media, on Amazon, on Goodreads, etc. This has been working well, enabling me to get the word out there much further than if I were to personally contact every person I know.

But I do realize that many, many more people have read my books than are telling me or their friends about having read them. I’ve given away copies in contests, through my blog and on Goodreads, I’ve sent free eBooks to bloggers and travel or book sites, and I’ve gifted many print copies of the novel to many more people – all in the hope that they will not only enjoy reading what I’ve written, but also that they will then take that a step further and review/tell a friend about the books.

I would like to thank those who have taken the time to review online or who have sent me an email with your thoughts about the books. I’ve compiled everything here in an Online Reviews and Comments PDF (scroll down to What Readers are saying about Island in the Clouds!) Your support and enthusiasm has been overwhelming and much appreciated!

However, I would like to throw out a challenge to anyone else who has not yet reviewed either of my books online or by sending me a direct message: Please consider writing something now and posting it. Even if you didn’t enjoy either of the books all that much, tell me why that was the case. Authors just want their work to be read, and we thrive and survive on Readers telling us what we did right or wrong in our writing. If you do not feel comfortable putting your comments out there for all the world to see, I would even appreciate receiving a private email with your thoughts. It all helps me to improve my writing.

And it helps to attract new readers to my writing … so here’s the Review Challenge for you to consider – If you have read my books, please recommend them to another friend who you think will enjoy them. Then ask them to do the same and recommend it to another of their friends. Pass on your copy if you need to do so in order to convince them it’s worth reading. While I’d love it if everyone bought their own copies to read, I completely understand lending as a means of interesting readers who don’t know about me. I’m even willing to send out free eBook copies to anyone who would like to read and review either book. If you, or a friend, are willing to do that, please contact me. susanmtoy (at) gmail.com

I hope this idea doesn’t sound like desperation-for-reviews on my part. What I’m really trying to get across here is how important word-of-mouth promotion is to ALL authors, whether self-or-traditionally published. I know! I was a sales rep for publishers during my career, and the best-selling books were always those that I could personally recommend as having read and enjoyed myself. (Plus, I can be a very convincing sales person at times …) I now very dutifully read and rate/review many books on Goodreads, and I occasionally post a review on Amazon, but I also publish an Author Promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, so I believe I am still doing my bit to get the word out there for my fellow authors.

So, what are you going to do about this? Are you willing to take up my challenge? I would be ecstatic if every reader who has read either of my books were to recommend just one to another reader! And, if each of you were to review those books or send me an email with your comments, as well … You will have made this particular author very, very happy!!

Authors, please feel free to share this blog post and encourage your readers to become part of a challenge to spread the word about your own books – and all authors and their books!

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300 Subscribers!!!

I am so pleased that my blog has reached another milestone … (HEY! For me, this is BIG!!!) This calls for a celebration and a giveaway!

To show my appreciation to all the readers who have taken a moment to subscribe to or follow my blog I am going to hold another draw to give away free copies of my two eBooks, Island in the Clouds and That Last Summer, for whichever reading device you own. If you’ve already read both, you may want to give your prize to a friend, should you win. So there’s an incentive for everyone to enter! (At this time, I can only offer free copies of the eBooks, because mailing copies of the print edition would be difficult as I’m here.)

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So, if you are currently a subscriber and you would like to enter this contest, please make a comment below. On Feb. 14th, I will make a random selection from those who enter. You may consider this my Valentine’s Day treat for all my readers out there!

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And, if you’re not currently a subscriber, you may want to become one now, because I’ll be holding more similar contests as I reach new milestones.

Thanks to everyone in advance for participating in this contest!

But, more importantly, thanks to all 300 of you who have subscribed to my blog over the years. And thanks for continuing to read!! I couldn’t keep doing this without your support!

(And, yes, Tim Baker, I know I’m well over my exclamation point quota on this post!!!)

Calling All Readers! My gift to you …

I’ve been reading another brilliant book written by the very insightful, Seth Godin. I can’t get enough of this guy and his ideas on how we can work and create and live a life that’s meaningful. This one is titled, Linchpin: Are You Indispensible? and it was published in 2010. I wish I had read it a couple of years ago, but that’s water under the bridge.

I’ll quote from it now, however, to give you an idea as to why I’m writing this blog post at this moment.

“Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.” p. 70

“The last element that makes it art is that it’s a gift. You cannot create a piece of art merely for money. Doing it as part of commerce so denudes art of wonder that it ceases to be art. There’s always a gift intent on the part of the artist.” p.72

I’m in the process of reformulating my approach to my writing and the way I publish my books, as well as the outcome I expect from all this activity. Stay tuned for more on this later.

What has struck me though from reading the above quotes and other parts of this book by Godin is that I, as a creator, have written and produced something, taken great care in doing so, and all for what purpose? Certainly not to sell lots of copies and make a pile of money – I’ve been in the book business long enough to know that this is very unlikely to ever happen. No, I write so my words will be read. I put it to you that this is ultimately why all authors write/artists paint or sculpt/photographers photograph/musicians write songs and perform, etc. We want to touch others with our view of the world, with our interpretation, with what we have to say. What is lacking isn’t the number of creators there are, but the people who will read, listen, and look at what we create. And comment on it. And pass it on to their friends, recommending that they, too, read and recommend it to their friends, and so on and so forth.

In an effort to spread the word about my own writing, and ultimately about the novel I have already published as a eBook and in print, I am posting free copies of two short stories that have been published elsewhere in the past. Anyone, anywhere in the world, may click on either of the links below and download the PDFs to be able to read. All I ask is that after you have read these stories, and if you like them, please comment below on this blog post. And, if you haven’t already read my novel, Island in the Clouds, please consider purchasing a copy.

But more importantly, I hope you will enjoy my writing enough to want to then recommend to your friends that they buy and read my book. You may even wish to purchase copies to give as gifts to those friends.

My gift to you then is my words; I hope your reciprocal gift will be to read my words, and that they affect you in some way or another. And that you tell me of the effect or, more importantly, that you tell your friends!

So, if you do read, and if you’re looking for something new to read and are willing to help me get the word out to others who you think may also be interested in reading what I’ve written, then click below and download your free copies of Hockey Night on Bellefair Avenue and 50 Ways to Lose Your Liver. (And you may want to subscribe to my blog while you’re at it.)

If you wish to know more about Island in the Clouds, a Bequia Perspectives novel before purchasing, please check out the page I’ve created with links to reviews, news and information about the book. There’s also a complete list on this page of where the eBook and print edition are available to purchase. If you’d like to read the novella I’ve published, That Last Summer, there’s information on the IslandShorts page.

If you have already read Island in the Clouds, I thank you! If you haven’t yet told me what you thought of the book, I would like to hear from you, too. And please do consider recommending my book to your friends or giving copies as gifts. Please help me spread the word.

I know there will be people out there, especially other writers, who will consider this to be an undesirable precedent I’m setting by giving away my work, not expecting to be paid for what I write, but I ask that you please bear with me. I feel as though I’m on the cusp of something revolutionary with this concept. If you don’t believe me, read Linchpin and see if it gives you similar ideas as well.

Hockey Night on Bellefair Avenue
50 Ways to Lose Your Liver

Since first posting this to my blog, other short stories I’ve written have been made available to read free on Allan Hudson’s Blog, South Branch Scribbler. Click on the titles to read:

Andrea’s Journey
Another Day in Paradise
Family Jewels

And I posted the following story to my blog, as well:

Picking Up God on the Way to Edmonton