Category Archives: Uncategorized

A slide show of promo photos …

Griz sitting within the magic circle of books; Zoom waiting for her turn to enter …

This is a test. Do not adjust your sets.

I created a Power Point Presentation in order to see whether:
A) I could still remember how to make one
B) It was a good way of promoting my books and those by other authors
C) I could sort out and put into order some of the ginormous number of photos I’ve taken and received from friends over the years

I could not post the file as-is to social media, so I figured I would post it first to my blog. This way I can also include information about each photo, as adding captions to each individual photo in the presentation itself is far beyond my capabilities!

So click on this link and have a look through the photos. Explanations are below.


(You may need to fiddle with this a bit to get it to run as a slide show …)

Island in the Clouds/One Woman’s Island

  1. at Malvern Collegiate Institute, Toronto – my high school!
  2. in a bookstore with Connie Flanagan
  3. with Darcie Hossack’s literate cat
  4. with Lori Hanel
  5. at When Words Collide, Calgary, with the Tropical Shirt Guys
  6. with Detlef Karthaus and his books
  7. on editor Rachel Small’s computer screen
  8. with Margaret Atwood
  9. Sharon Wilson enjoying an Island in the Clouds Alcoholic Beverage, recipe in One Woman’s Island
  10. with The Queen’s Bands (photo by Jeff Chan)
  11. with Ivona Bradley at Lower Bay, Bequia
  12. at The Lookout Villa, Bequia (owned and operated by Chris-Lou Smullen)
  13. with my Belgian cousin, Stefaan de Tavenier
  14. with my sister Betty at Christmas
  15. with a Klingon, introduced to me by Paul Carreau


..okay, published the autobiography… time to start the rest of my life!

I’m very much looking forward to reading this newly released autobiography by an extremely good online friend who also happens to be a GREAT writer, Mr. Seumas Gallacher! Seumas is also a terrific support and tireless promoter of all we other scribes. Thank you for writing, Seumas!

via ..okay, published the autobiography… time to start the rest of my life!

2018 … A Year of Reading – Part 2

This is a continuation of a blog post that began here


Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling et al (Definitely one of the very best books I read this year.)

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams
Juliet’s Answer: One Man’s Search for Love and the Elusive Cure for Heartbreak by Glenn Dixon (I know the author)
The Unravelling: How Our Caregiving Safety Net Came Unstrung and We Were Left Grasping At Threads, Struggling to Plait a New One and Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness by Clem Martini (I know the author)
Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffee

Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Palestine in the Present Tense by Marcello Di Cintio
(I know this author)

Sleuth: Gail Bowen on Writing Mysteries by Gail Bowen (I know the author)
Paul Simon: The Life by Robert Hilburn
The Traveling Feast: On the Road and at the Table With My Heroes by Rick Bass
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan
The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers and Life by Richard Russo

Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries From A Secret World by Peter Wohlleben
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston
In Other Words: How I Fell in Love With Canada One Book At a Time by Anna Porter (I was a sales rep for Key Porter Books for many years so I know the author)
Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott
Becoming by Michelle Obama

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Non-Fiction – Political

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Anderson

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein
Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff, David Corn (Reading this book led to a lot of others books that Dennis and I are either reading or have read.)

The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels by Jon Meacham

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward
The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (While technically this is a novel and should be listed in the fiction section, I read it because of it’s political connection to day. It was originally published in 1935, but the story is very contemporary.)
America: the Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges

The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity by Sally Kohn

Children’s Books

Everybody’s Different on Everybody Street by Sheree Fitch, Emma Fitzgerald (illustrator) (I know this author)

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Pete the Cat Series by Eric Litwin
The Alphabet Thief by Bill Richardson, Roxanna Bikadoroff (illus)
The Night Gardener by Terry Fan, Eric Fan


Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins (I know this author, but have never been able to beat her at Scrabble!), Gail Herbert, Lil Crump (Illustrator)


Old Favourite Children’s Books

Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Corduroy by Don Freeman
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Angus and the Cat by Marjorie Flack
The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff
Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

2018 … A Year of Reading – Part 1

I didn’t set out to do this, but 2018 turned out to be a perfect storm of reading for me! I read more books during this past year than I believe I have in any other year before. And I enjoyed my time reading, too. It never felt like work at all, because I didn’t set a target number of books to read. I just kept reading books as they came to me … either from my own shelves, or given to me by other readers, or won in giveaways, or – the way I received most of what I read – borrowed from the library!

I didn’t enjoy every book I began reading, and I didn’t keep track of those I abandoned, but I do know there were quite a few. Some were highly praised and award-winners, but I discovered they just weren’t for me.

I read a large number of non-fiction books this year, more that I normally would, primarily because I read a lot of political books, trying to keep up with what’s been going on in this crazy world. I also read several very good biographies of musicians and one extremely accomplished and inspiring woman. Books on travel, writing, and even several generally inspiring books rounded out the non-fiction titles.

I began collecting some of my old favourite children’s books with the idea of creating my own permanent library. These were the books I remembered borrowing most often from the local library branch where I grew up in Toronto.

Beaches Branch, Toronto Public Library
(archival photo)

Many of these books were originally published in the 20s, 30s and 40s. Children’s publishing didn’t become a big thing it seems until after I was finished with reading them. This is something I recommend that all readers do now, as you grow older. Go back and look for the books you read as a child. You’ll be amazed at the wonderful memories and pleasure this simple act will bring back to you.

Far and away the biggest number of books I read though were fiction – novels, short stories, novellas, graphic novels – and one book of poetry. That’s because this is what I enjoy reading most often, and I always have.

Rather than list my Favourite Books I Read in 2018, I decided to just list whatever I enjoyed reading in no particular order other than those divisions I listed above. These are all books, however, that I rated on Goodreads as being 5-star, in my estimation. There are a few books that were worthy of more than 5 stars though and I have marked them by including their covers. Full disclosure: I’ve also mentioned if I happen to know (in person or online) or have previously met the author. Just so you know, I had good reason to read these books of theirs and my interest was often personal.

(All links will take you to the Goodreads listing for each title.)


Setting Free the Kites by Alex George (This is one of the top books I read this year,
and by a new-to-me American author)

The Shoe on the Roof by Will Ferguson (I know the author)
And Then the Sky Exploded and Last Song Sung by David A. Poulsen (I know the author)
The Dry and Force of Nature by Jane Harper (I thought so highly of this new-to-me Australian author’s series that I already have a hold at the library for the soon-to-be-released third novel, The Lost Man)
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
Deal of a Lifetime and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (I have and will continue to read everything by this author!)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Return to Hiroshima and Heart Fever by Bob Van Laerhoven (I know the author online)
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
The Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye
Mr. Flood’s Last Resort by Jess Kidd
Once Upon a Night by J.F. Kaufmann (I know the author.)
Summer Hours at the Robber’s Library by Sue Halpern
A Darkness of the Heart by Gail Bowen (I definitely know this author!)
Indian Horse and Starlight by Richard Wagamese (I met the author)

The Overstory by Richard Powers (One of the best books I read this year that led to me reading non-fiction books about trees and looking at trees in a completely different way.)

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
The Best We Could Do by Tui Bhi (This is a graphic novel.)
The Ruinous Sweep by Tim Wynne-Jones (I know the author)
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
Where’s Bob? by Ann Ireland (I knew this author who was one of my writing instructors and sadly died in Sept.)

Doomed to Repeat and 24 Minutes by Tim Baker
(I know the author online and helped with beta-reading and editing advice)

Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion
The Washington Decree by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Kerouac’s Ghost by Ken McGoogan (I know the author)
Redeeming Brother Murrihy: The River to Hiruharama by Antony Millan (I know the author online)

The Storm by Arif Anwar (This novel by a new-to-me author was outstanding in every way!
Thanks to fellow author Ranjini George for recommending to me.
I now know the author online.)

The Flame by Leonard Cohen (I have met the author)
Gone to Pot by Jennifer Craig
Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page

House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag
(An excellent novel involving books, readers, reading … and ghosts!)

(Blog Post Continued in Part 2)

Readers … resolve to read more in 2019!

HUGE THANKS to Allan Hudson for hosting me once again on his blog, South Branch Scribbler!
Following is much of that original post. Please visit Allan’s link to read in its entirety.


I am a reader and I read a lot of books! No matter how many I read however I never seem to catch up with my ginormous to-be-read stack/list of books. Even though I try to follow Dr. Seuss’s advice:

I never manage to come even close to catching up.

But then that’s part of the fun in reading, isn’t it? The search for new books to read, test-driving new authors’ writing, the joy in “discovering” a new-to-you book or even a genre that you’ve never read before. I’ve spent my entire life reading and working with books and authors and am an author now myself, yet I never tire of reading, thinking about, discussing, recommending and discovering new books!

I know there are many others out there just like me, too, so that’s why I say to you now – Make it your New Year’s resolution to read even more in 2019! You don’t need to count the books you do read, or compare numbers you’ve read with others. We are all different, we readers, not only in how fast we can read, but also in when and where we like to read, how we approach our reading, and even why or what we read in the first place. So no judgement calls here at all, folks! Just the suggestion that if you enjoy reading, you might want to make it a priority in your life to read even more.  I won’t go into the many ways that you can make more time to read. I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.

To help other readers along a little bit with suggestions as to what they might consider reading, I recently created a Facebook Group Your next great read … suggestions for readers and authors that I hope will not only generate lists of books and authors for other readers to enjoy reading, but also some discussion about books and reading in general. It’s an open group and anyone may join – authors too, because authors are (or should be!!) readers themselves. Self-promotion is allowed, but authors are requested to contribute information on other books and authors, as well. I would love to see – eventually – a large membership of readers from all around the world (and we already have the beginnings of an international group) who benefit from the reading experience of everyone. I’m particularly interested in world literature (although only what is available in English, in my case) so I would love to hear about authors in other countries, especially non-English-speaking, who are publishing books that are available in English translation. I know other members already contributing to the site are also interested in particular genres or types of writing. Why not join us and see if you find something new-to-you that becomes Your Next Great Read!

So, Readers, are you ready to resolve to read more in 2019? I hope so, and that you will consider joining us. And, if you’re not on Facebook but are still looking for ways to encourage yourself to stick with this resolution of reading more, I suggest you consider following these blogs …

(This one, of course!) Allan Hudson’s South Branch Scribbler

Seumas Gallacher’s blog

And my own blog, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing (I’m planning on writing a series, actually, about all the How, When, Why, Where, What, and Who on reading – subscribe to my blog and Stay Tuned!)

I mention these blogs primarily because we three authors make a habit of promoting other authors and their books. We also all write or have written about writing and publishing as self-published authors and we reblog interesting articles and blog posts written by other authors as well. As my personal interest has swayed from selling books to finding more readers for writing in general, I’ve written a number of posts aimed at readers (as well as addressing directly authors who continue to promote their own work too much!). You might find something interesting in one of these articles:

Why not read books simply because they’re well-written?

A challenge to all Readers …

HOW to get promotion for yourself and your book … 

Bob Chelmick and The Road Home

Dear Bob Chelmick,

I was listening to your programme, The Road Home, this morning on the internet. As it was coming up to the hour, the show’s theme came on and I suddenly found myself getting all warm and fuzzy … and thinking back to another time in my life when a theme song had this very same effect on me. A time very, very early in my life when my mother turned on the TV to CBC for my younger sister and me so we could watch The Friendly Giant!

Trust me!! I mean this in a complimentary way when I say I then began considering how many ways you and your The Road Home are as similar to, in this my later adulthood, as The Friendly Giant was for me in my youth:

– you both have a theme song that instantly makes me feel calm, relaxed and peaceful
– you both read poetry/stories and talk about reading
– you both play music (and I’ve caught myself more than once singing along …)
– you both have wonderful and calming voices that I could listen to all day long!
– you both have animal sidekicks (you with your dogs, horses and birds, and Friendly with Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe – okay, so they were actually puppets, but at that age I thought they were real animals!!)
– and, last but not least, you’re both named BOB!

Although, Friendly lives in a castle, whereas you live in a cabin in the woods. And Friendly always offered us chairs to curl up in at the beginning of each show, too, come to think of it …

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you, Bob Chelmick, for becoming The Friendly Giant of my old(er) age. For continuing to bring good poetry and the written word, as well as beautiful music and interesting stories, into my life. And with the vast improvement in technology since those days in 1958 when the CBC was one of only three Canadian TV stations available to us in Toronto, where I watched The Friendly Giant in our family living room with two cats and my sister, now I can listen to The Road Home anywhere in the world! At the moment, I happen to be sitting on the verandah of my house on the island of Bequia in the Caribbean, listening to the internet broadcast of previous “January” shows, surrounded by three sleeping cats.

And thanks too, Bob, for all you do to promote writing, writers, and their books! I love that I can hear poetry written by friends like Robert Kroetsch, Rosemary Griebel, Robert Hilles and so many other authors I’ve met over the years I lived and worked in Alberta. For me, in many ways, your show really is THE ROAD BACK HOME!

All the best to you, Bob! Thanks for all you do and for now making me realize my life has come full circle!


For those reading this blog post who may not be familiar with The Friendly Giant, it was a long-running children’s TV programme (1958-1985) produced by the CBC and starring Bob Homme and puppeteer Rod Coneybeare. Here’s a video of the opening and closing of one of the shows … “Look waaayyyy up!”

And I’ve just discovered that The Friendly Giant has a Facebook page!!

Bob Chelmick’s programme, The Road Home, can be heard online, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! Just click on this link.

Here’s a terrific video from Bob’s website that will give you a better idea of who he is and where he broadcasts from … in that little cabin in the woods close to a lake called Nakamun.

Chapters/Indigo now listing my print books!

I just received word from my Formatter Extraordinaire that ALL my publications, both in eBook and print editions, are now available online from the Chapters/Indigo site!

This is a new option that has become available only recently to those of us who have published in print using the Kindle Direct service. Previously, all orders for KDP books had to be placed through Amazon only (or through me, as I was buying up my own stock to sell). But now customers who choose to buy through Chapters/Indigo may do so.

Thanks to Gina at Human Powered Design for pursuing this opportunity on my behalf!






Dan’s Morning Musings … Everybody Is The Same

Dan Erkelens and I attended the same high school, Malvern Collegiate Institute in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood, although our time there did not cross. We “met” on Facebook a few years ago and then met in person since that time. (Dan and his wife Sharon have both been big fans and supporters of my writing!) Dan recently posted comments on Facebook about a book he had been reading during a night when he couldn’t sleep, and what he wrote resonated with me. Like Dan, although we were both born in Canada, one of our parents had immigrated. So I understand exactly what he speaks of in this piece. The subject matter is also very timely, so I asked Dan to expand upon what he wrote online and offered to post this to my blog in order that he would (hopefully) find a wider audience. Here’s what I would like to become a regular feature on my blog, Dan’s Morning Musings. Thanks, Dan, for writing!

Dan backpacking the Christmas Tree … photo by Sharon Wilson

Dan’s Morning Musings
Everybody Is The Same

Some nights insomnia is such a waste, a night spent tossing and turning, howling at the sleep gods to just let you sleep. Other nights it offers the opportunity to read or listen to a good book. I’ve just finished John McCain’s The Restless Wave … What a remarkable man and an amazing story! Well worth reading or, in this case, listening.

Considering the current state of the world, rather than coming together, we are devolving into an “us against them” mentality. The problem is it is becoming harder to define THEM, which is part of the message of McCain’s book. Here is a man who put service to others ahead of his own needs and comforts. Who stood up against those in his own party when that was needed. Who said we are no better than THEM, because if we stoop to their level we become THEM. Which then raises the question, who is them? Is it the person who, while they may look like me, they vote for the wrong party?

Maybe it’s the Muslim family down the street: she wears a hijab, but they seem nice enough. Hell, they even speak English! As hard as it is to believe, I’ve seen him put a hockey bag in his car.

Then again they could be one of those refugee families; I hear they are coming to take everything we have and change our laws.

Thinking of who those THEM could be, I feel rather different as, other than people who vote for the likes of Ford and Harper, I’m cool with just about anyone until proven wrong,

Only kidding about the Conservatives, though, because sometimes they are sneaky and disguise themselves as friends and family.

Seriously, I have never been allowed to hate on any one group for NO real reason, even if I had wanted to. As a kid growing up in PEI there really was no one to hate … we all looked basically the same. Okay, there were a few Lebanese, but they were accepted – our church Minister was one of them.

There were the damn Catholics but, some were part of our family – second cousins. Okay, I was really pissed off when I went to his home for lunch with the only Chinese kid in the school. Can you believe we had sandwiches and not egg rolls for lunch? Talk about disappointment!

There was that black nurse, too, but since she helped save my sister’s life, they had to be okay, right? All kidding aside, the Island is the whitest place I have ever been, and still is, compared to Toronto. But that said, the Island also limited our exposure to THEM, so as long as the THEMs were good people they were accepted just as much as anyone from “away” could be, whether that away was Toronto or Timbuktu

I thought I had the “Indians” figured out: I heard they all drank. Too bad I voiced that opinion when Dad was picking one up along the side of the road where the man’s truck had broken down. Seven-year-old me just had to ask, “Why are we stopping for the drunken Injin?” That really went over well as it got me one of the few slaps I ever remember receiving. Plus I was the one who had to walk home in the rain … I’d like to say it was miles, but it was just up our driveway, while Dad drove the man home by himself.

I was a little more than scared the next morning when Dad said we were going to visit the Drunk. Turns out he was a Mi’kmaq elder who never drank, and his wife Anne made the same sugar cookies as my Nan. I had so much fun playing with his grandkid. Turns out those Mi’kmaq kids are pretty cool. I cried when I had to go home.

Fast forward a couple years when we moved to Toronto and I am now the kid being picked on for being different, because I talked funny, had a weird accent, and was short and pudgy. Suddenly we were one of THEM, those damn Maritimers who came to take away their jobs.

Then, as people who knew our family can attest, everyone was welcome at Mom and Dad’s table, so I had no choice but to meet and mix with the diversity that Toronto had to offer.

Truth is, everybody is the same; we all have the same hopes, dreams, fears, wishes. We want a roof over our heads, food on the table, and to be able to provide for our family and loved ones.

It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, purple, straight, gay, trans, Muslim, Christian or a Jain.

Everybody is the same.

Okay, 5:30 a.m. and time to say good morning to Sharon, get the newspaper, and end this moment of reflection. To be continued later.

I’m on a temporary Compu-Cation!

In other words, I’m going to try to stay off the computer and enjoy my personal life more.

It was past time to take a break … I was spending too much time online in general, but getting less and less done. My excuse has always been that, “I need social media to promote my books and those by other authors.” But when I took at long, hard look at this excuse, I realized the promotion there really wasn’t working at all. For anyone!

So, I’ll be taking a break from constantly checking Facebook. I already don’t use Twitter much as all, so I don’t need to cut back. And I’ve deleted both my LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, because I just never used them or even checked them, and I can’t say that either account ever did much for me by attracting new readers.

Now I can concentrate on getting caught up on all the outstanding emails and subsequent work I have to do – not to mention getting back to my own writing, and keeping up with reading other books.

I’ll continue to post to this blog and What Are You Reading?, and will start again posting to Reading Recommendations. I’m woefully behind in promised promotions for other authors! I haven’t decided yet whether I will continue the Friday morning “What are you reading?” posts on Facebook. They may instead become a weekly feature on this blog. I have to think about that.

So … if you wish to contact me now, it’s best to do so via email – susanmtoy(at) I’m hoping to get caught up with messages there soon. I seem to have a lot of deleting and filing to get through before I can heave a sigh of relief on that front. But I will try to get back to you.

In the meantime … it’s back to reading for me!

It’s That Time Again

From Tim Baker … It’s about time he got this draft of his new novel completed!


Time is a funny thing.

We use it to measure everything from how long to cook an egg to how long we’ve been on the planet.

Time is used to determine winners and losers, and to mark history.

In fact, without time, there would be no history.

The rate at which time passes is inversely proportional to the desire of what one is waiting for.

There have been more songs written about time than there are seconds in the average song.

According to Albert Einstein, time sums up his most famous theory…

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

We blame time for all kinds of problems because there never seems to be enough of it…unless we have too much of it on our hands.

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