Tag Archives: blogs
So reads the Chinese curse that seems to have been operative during this past year we’ve all just endured. Let’s hope that, rather than continuing to be “interesting”, 2018 is instead a year full of hope and health and joy for everyone around the world, and that the good feelings at midnight tonight last far longer than simply the first 24-hours of the new year ahead of us.
Personally, I wish to thank all readers of this blog, and everyone who has read and enjoyed my publications! No author can write without readers … so suffice it to say that – YOU READERS KEEP ME WRITING!!! Thank you for all your support!
From our verandah on Bequia, Dennis and I wish everyone all the best for 2018!
Now … LET’S DANCE!!!
Out of necessity, I had to cut down drastically on the number of blogs I subscribe to and read – the number of good blogs out there was becoming impossible to keep up with on a daily basis! So I’ve narrowed down my list here to the truly GREAT blogs I continue to follow and read (and comment on and share) on a regular basis. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you will notice many familiar names. Some bloggers publish posts more than once a day and others are sporadic. But I can guarantee you will always find something of interest to read on these bloggers’ sites. Do check out each and every one of them and see if you agree with me, and I also hope you find a few new favourites to follow and read. (Sorry to those I didn’t list. There was a point where I had to cut off this list!!)
* Denotes the blogger is also a published author and it would be well worth it to check out what they’ve published!
** Denotes the blogger has promoted me and my books on their blog at some time or another.
**Chris, The Story Reading Ape – *Christopher Graham
**Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life – *Sally Cronin
**WHAT THE HELL – *Kevin Brennan
**A Creative State of Mind – *Tricia Drammeh
**blindoggbooks – *Tim Baker
**Seumas Gallacher – *Seumas Gallacher
**South Branch Scribbler – *Allan Hudson
**Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge – Karen Parker
**theshammuramat – *Felicity Harley
beetleypete – Pete Johnson
Leaving Ourselves Behind – Ginny & Stephen
**Betty Jane Hegerat: Canadian author of literary fiction – *Betty Jane Hegerat
Camino De Tim – *Timothy L. Phillips
Books Unpacked – *Merilyn Simonds
Paul Butler Novelist – *Paul F. Butler
Seth’s Blog – *Seth Godin
My Peacock Books – Cat Peacock
Marathon Mouth – *Bill Corbett
**Owlish Books – Loes M.
No, not really. Please have no fear of catching anything deadly and do read on …
Remember when we were standing around in a group of friends in the school yard before school began at 9 a.m. or during recess? There was always that one girl or boy we shunned, using the excuse that they had COOTIES and we would all catch cooties, too, if we associated with them in any way.
Now, we knew these kids, our peers and fellow classmates, were not actually carrying a communicable disease, but the thought that they might gave us all an excuse for excluding them from our circle. (And I admit I was also one of those who shivered at the thought of catching cooties, although later I did become friends with at least one of those girls who had been thus named as a Cootie Bearer. And I’m pretty sure I never caught cooties from her.)
I look back on that time now and realize many schoolkids never left that school yard, and the bullying that went on there. Because declaring someone had cooties and shunning them from our little society really was a form of bullying, of excluding someone from the group just because they were different in some way from the rest of us … or, worse, because just one of those kids in the group had decided they didn’t like the kid and got the rest of us to go along with saying it was simply because that kid had cooties.
But, unfortunately, this is still happening every day, but now with the difference being that those school yard bullies have gone on to become influential leaders in our society who continue to call people names, who group their “enemies” into undesirable factions (simply because those perceived enemies disagree with the leaders or voice an opposing opinion), who use “name calling” as a method of demeaning, objectifying, vilifying, and actually ostracizing those people from the mainstream – which ultimately makes the bully look better in the eyes of his/her followers, those “sheeple” who never question, but support and laugh at all the jokes – and the names – the leader comes up with to deflate any opposition. Without any thought as to what they are actually agreeing with or justifying through their compliance.
WITHOUT ACTUALLY THINKING.
I want to emphasize this point because, while the bully or leader has come up with all these “nasty” names and encouraged others to join in on the bullying, it’s those followers who blindly follow, who parrot what they’ve been told to believe, and who never question what is being said or the validity of the names these “others” are being called – names that very conveniently dehumanize entire groups of people, simply because they “think” differently – who ultimately give the bully permission to continue bullying, who make that bully feel as though the name calling and ostracizing is valid and welcome by the majority.
I don’t know when it was during primary school that I stopped following the others and became friends with the cootie-ridden. That decision likely had something to do with my mother. As a young child, she and her parents emigrated from Belgium after the first World War, and my mother always set the example in our house of being accepting of everyone, no matter what their background. Plus, we spent every summer at the cottage north of Toronto, and far away from my classmates. Often, when returning to school in September, my circle of friends would change as families moved away from the neighbourhood or former friends changed allegiances during those summer months I was away. So it was never a conscious decision on my part to stop following the school yard bullies. I wish now I could say it had been, but during the early 60s we didn’t know what bullying was and, while many were victims of bullying at the time, society had not yet put a name to it or realized the problem of it. Bullying was just a part of growing up. At that time.
Now we know though that bullies are a bad influence on a “civilized” society, and that they should be stopped in their tracks. We cannot allow them to dictate – through their damaging words – what the rest of us should think, or that the rest of us may actually be wrong because we don’t think the way the bully thinks. And the best way I know to stop them is to stop repeating verbatim what they say, stop calling others by those names the bullies use, stop grouping people into presumed enemies, and start looking at everyone as individuals who have just as much right to their Considered and Thoughtful opinions as everyone else. (I have written previously about deflating bullies here: Let’s Bully the Bullies!)
After all, bullies are just seeking power and control ( or “ratings”) – but they can’t get all of that without our permission. Even passing legislation or ordering that others give them that power and control can only last as long as we all give them permission to do so. Once people … individuals, see the bullies for what they are, and start calling them by the name of “Bully”, and stop following them, and begin thinking for themselves, we might actually begin to move towards a civilized and inclusive society/world in which everyone feels they play an important part and are welcoming of each other – and are not afraid of catching cooties …
I should mention that it has not gone unnoticed by me that I’m suggesting we use the bullies’ own tactics and call them by a name, group them as a group, and attempt to dehumanize them as they have done to everyone who opposes them. But perhaps fighting fire with fire is the only way they will ever understand that what they’ve been doing all along is wrong.
(I also realize that I’m likely just preaching to the choir here, but my hope is that the choir will sing out loudly and further share my message so that others, those who are not so like-minded, may see my message and at least give it some thought.)
And, finally, I’m going back to the 70s now, to a great speech from a movie of that time that needs to be replayed for everyone to watch and consider. What Peter Finch’s character, Howard Beale, says here still rings remarkably, even chillingly, true today, more than 40 years later …
Since I’ve been back in Canada, spending the summer months at my trailer, now aptly named, “Another Page” …
I’ve been borrowing print books like mad from the Bruce County Public Library, specifically at the Kincardine and Lucknow Branches, which happen to be almost equidistant in driving time from the trailer park.
And … WOW!! What a summer it’s been, catching up on books that were not available as eBooks or that I otherwise might have had to wait a long time to borrow as eBooks. I’ve also caught up on watching movies too as the system has a terrific selection of DVDs in their collection. It’s been a busy summer, driving back and forth, picking up holds and taking back materials I’ve read/watched. I’ve been into both branches so often and borrowed so much that the librarians all seem to know me by name now (and one told me yesterday that they will miss me after Oct. 1st when I leave the park for the winter). I’m starting to feel like Norm in the TV series, Cheers!
Or an addict surrounded by a group of happy pushers. Hmmm.
But all of this has now made me realize that …
READING IS MY SUPERPOWER!!
(Even though I always secretly wanted to be Wonder Woman)
In fact, I wish I had been able to figure out a way to become a PROFESSIONAL READER – and be paid for all the reading I have done in my life. That would have been cool … (As it was, I was a bookseller and a publishers’ sales rep, and was paid to SELL books, not to read them. I actually didn’t have much time to read those books I was selling. I wish I’d been given time during my days of being paid and was sent off to read those books I was selling. I would have been even more effective than I was at convincing customers, booksellers and librarians to buy those books. I was always very convincing when promoting a book I had enjoyed …)
At the beginning of the summer I made a concerted effort to research, source, and track down as many books as I could that I wanted to read, both new releases and those by favourite authors, and used the library’s handy “My Lists” section on their website to create my own list of book and DVD titles I was hoping to borrow. I also went through a hefty “Want-To-Read” list I had compiled on the Goodreads site over the years I’ve been a member and discovered many of those books were available in print from Bruce County, so on to the lists they went!
The other thing that happened was I promoted a book on my Reading Recommendations blog by Margaret Mackey titled, One Child Reading: My Auto-Bibliography. This reminded me that I, long ago, had the idea to write a series of blog posts, On Reading, in which I compile information on Who reads – and How, What, When, Where and Why they read. So I decided, while I had access to a great print selection of books on the topic of reading, that I would borrow even more books and do the necessary research for this series I’ve been meaning to write.
It was like a Perfect Storm for anyone who loves books and reading as much as I do!
So, I’ve been thinking about that PROFESSIONAL READER job, and figured that … just as libraries and other organizations designate, and often pay a stipend to, a writer-in-residence, maybe it’s time to consider creating a Reader-in-Residency Programme – in which someone who reads a lot of books (as I do) and can review and recommend those books to other readers is given office space and the opportunity to set up a reading programme for anyone interested in learning about available books. (I actually had this idea when I promoted Shaun Hunter’s blog and her efforts to gather up all the reading material she could that was set in or about the city of Calgary. I think Shaun would be a terrific Reader-in-Residence for the city to hire – especially a city like Calgary where the current mayor, Naheed Nenshi, reads a lot of books himself and publicly promotes reading and the Calgary Public Library.)
So, what do you say, folks? I figure that anyone who encourages others to read, and to read well and a lot, should be designated a SUPER HERO! I am willing to continue reading and recommending books for no payment at all, but … Should anyone ever be in need of a person who possesses the Superpower of Reading, then I’m your Reader, and I’m available!
Just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you?
This post is an introduction to the series, “On Reading”, which you will be able to follow on this blog page.
The series is dedicated to the memory of a great reader and blogger, roughseasinthemed.
At least, not that I know. It’s a phrase I repeat to myself with each new book I begin reading. Just to put the amount of reading I do into perspective …
Last summer, someone who shall remain nameless and who does not really know me at all, told me that my problem is I read too much and need to find myself a new hobby. You can imagine how that made me feel. (In case you’re wondering, my snappy comeback was that I thought I wasn’t reading near enough as I could be reading … That was met with a blank stare.)
So, instead of heeding her suggestion, I began to read even more than I had up until then. My entire life has been about books and reading: studying them, selling them, representing them to bookstores and libraries, promoting them, and now even writing them myself.
It’s no surprise I prefer the company of books (and their authors and other readers) over someone like this “someone”. Actually, I believe this person figured I was being selfish of my time – I’ve been accused of this before – in choosing not to be sociable by joining the crowd for chit-chat, but instead sequestering myself away with my ever-growing reading list.
Or, perhaps it’s a case of me being too kind to this person, who has declared publicly that she never reads. Maybe the fact I spend so much of my time reading and am so very well-read makes her feel somewhat inadequate, because she chooses, for whatever reason, not to read books at all. So she blames me for making her look bad and I am responsible for her own failure to match up to me and what I choose to do with my own life.
This is all a long preamble to tell my blog readers I am changing tack and heading in a new direction in what I write about here.
READING will now become the focus, and I plan to write a series of posts on various aspects of the subject, both from my own perspective and that of other readers. My recent blog post, How to Help an Author received an incredible number (for me) of views, likes, shares, and reblogs – plus many comments, so I can see I’m heading in the right direction with this idea. (I’ve been trying to get this series going for a long time now … This time for sure, Rocky!)
I won’t be discussing any longer the issues of how to write, edit, get published, or promote books. I believe I’ve written myself out on those topics and there are plenty of old posts in the archives of this blog, in case anyone is still interested in reading what I’ve had to say. Besides, many other bloggers and websites continue to offer great advice. I’ll leave it up to them to tell you how it’s all done.
But I see little to no information on reading books – both from the perspective of readers and authors (who should always be readers as well, right?). I plan to cover the “Who, What, Where, When and Why”s of reading, as well as “How” we read. I hope readers of this blog will join in on the discussion and add their thoughts about their own reading habits.
I have a funny feeling that, rather than me seeming like an oddity for the number of books I “consume” as a matter of course in my life, I’m going to discover I am far from alone, and that many other readers approach reading in the same way I do …
I’m hoping that readers of this blog will take my request seriously and consider reading to write reviews for the more than 150 Authors I’ve promoted on my blog, Reading Recommendations. I posted to that blog today and addressed all the authors there, Reading Recommendations … Spring Cleaning, telling them I’ve cleaned up the lists a bit. I immediately received messages from several of those authors, offering me reciprocal promotion for my own writing, and one also requesting titles he could review.
So I thought I would open this up to everyone, readers included – those who don’t happen to also be authors themselves. I ask that you look through the lists on that blog and consider writing a review of books you may have already read, or let me know if you have written a favourable review of any that I may then repost on the reading recommendations reviewed blog. Or, if you discover an author you’d like to interview or review, let me know and I will help you contact them.
Thanks for any help with this. All we authors need reviews, but most important of all is that we find readers who are interested in reading what we write! If you find some new-to-you authors through this blog of mine then I am very happy indeed!
But if you then tell your friends about this great author and their books, that will be pure magic!!
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!