Tag Archives: One Woman’s Island

What’s Cookin’?

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.

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!

Announcing … that first step towards a print edition!

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It may not seem like much of a step to you, but I did assign an ISBN this morning for a future print edition of my most recent novel, One Woman’s Island! And that’s cause for celebration in my books!

There’s still a lot of prep work to be done on designing and formatting the text, cover – front and back, as well as spine, and the actual printing and delivery … all of which also will cost $$$.

So, in an effort to help me pay for the cost of printing, I’m hoping that all those readers who wanted a print copy will now step forward to place a prepaid order for it before I actually do go to print. (I anticipate those print copies will be ready by May.)

We did this the last time when I printed copies of Island in the Clouds and it worked quite well. So let’s try again, shall we? Here’s how the prepayment orders work:

(All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.)
The retail price of the book will be around $20., so I’m offering 3 levels of participation.

1) Prepay $20 and you will receive one signed copy of the book.
2) Prepay $35 and you will receive one signed copy of the book plus your name will be included in a list of sponsors that will appear in the final first edition of the print book.
3) Prepay $50 and you will receive one signed copy of a limited edition (only 18 copies) of the print book and your name will be included in a list of sponsors that will appear in the final first edition of print book.

Postage/shipping charges to send books to you will be extra and determined at the time of shipping.

If you are interested in helping me in advance to get my novel published in a print edition, please send an email to susanmtoy (at) gmail.com with the message “Pre-order Print” and let me know which level of payment you’d like to make. Also, if you have any further questions, I’ll be happy to answer them by email. (Please do not comment below.)

Thanks in advance to all Readers for your support, and for all the support you have already given to me and my publications! I wouldn’t be where I am now without ALL of you!!

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?

Kind words from Philmouse … and a giveaway!

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Blogger, Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, has been a great support to me and of my writing since we first “met” through another blog. (I think we began by discussing the problems surrounding the virus Chikungunya that I had contracted, and the conversation continued to cover eradicating mosquitoes, travel in the Caribbean, and my first novel.) Philmouse, as I now call this blogger, wrote an extremely complimentary review of Island in the Clouds, and was kind enough to read an advance copy of my new novel, One Woman’s Island, and provide me with an excellent review.

So excellent, in fact, that I pulled a blurb-worthy extract from that and am using it now in my advertising and promotion materials for both novels published so far in the Bequia Perspectives series.

Philmouse also recently posted to her blog and wrote about both books in an extremely flattering way. (Link below.)

Instead of just reblogging this post on my own blog, I thought it fitting to give you this little bit of background, above, and offer a giveaway of the eBook version of my new novel to celebrate Philmouse’s kind words!

We’ve decided to make you work a bit before you may enter. The winner’s name will be drawn from all correct replies we receive here on this blog. In order to enter, answer the following 2-part question correctly (Both parts must be correct!)

What is Philmouse’s actual first name and which city does he/she live close to?

The astute will read the clues I’ve placed in this blog post and should be able to discover the correct answers in at least one of the attached files. Good luck!

Here’s the beginning of Philmouse’s post:

Wind in her hair. Departing wishes

Chilling north wind whips her hair. She stands for it. Faces it head on. Can’t rip the genetic memories out of her.

Those dreams took root generations ago – in the warm Caribbean trade winds far far away. As an immigrant, she has done her best to “grow where you are planted”, but suburban life leaves her cold and longing. Her paradise lost.

“Do humans ever feel this?” she wonders. “Probably not.”

And again she tossed her fronds high – reaching for all the stories the wind was bringing from home.

Continue reading here …

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One Woman’s Island … more advance praise!

Thanks so much to Canadian author David A. Poulsen, who has been featured on Reading Recommendations, for the following he has sent after he read an advance copy of my yet-to-be-released Bequia Perspectives novel, One Woman’s Island

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Susan Toy has done it again. The talented author has once more created a stunning collection of sometimes charming, sometimes alarming, never dull characters to populate her latest mystery—One Woman’s Island, set again on the island of Bequia. Both locals and expats grab the reader’s attention and refuse to let go as Toy spins a tale of intrigue, malice and down home suspense.

What Ms. Toy does so well is to give us characters from every strata of society who engage us even as they invite our suspicion. Reading this novel was like standing before a painting by one of the masters, one with dozens of people depicted and as you look at the painting, you are caught up first by this figure, then by that one.

I heartily recommend this novel that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through gorgeous landscapes and a unique though often frustrating culture in a story that seldom lets the reader rest and never lets the reader down. Humour, suspense, a thoroughly satisfying narrator—and yes recipes, several of which I can’t wait to try—combine to make this another well-executed work by a skilled craftsperson.

~ David A. Poulsen, author of mystery novels, books for teens, co-author of a cookbook, actor, and award-winning Rodeo Announcer

And, about the publication of that novel, as they say on Bequia … soon come!

One Woman’s Island – and more comments from advance readers!

About the Bequia Perspectives series of novels …

Whether intentional or not, there seems to be a huge character quietly looming across your book series: Bequia, the island herself. Each book, even though different, reveals more and more about her as a character and a force. Quite cool.
~ Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, blogger

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I am close to finishing preparation of the One Woman’s Island manuscript … Just waiting for a couple of recipes to come in. In the meantime, I have received more praise from advance readers I wish to share with you. This is in addition to earlier blogposts both here and here!

Susan Toy’s new novel, One Woman’s Island is: lively; startling; creepy; funny; shocking; sad; insightful – and engaging from start to finish.

~ Ann Ireland, prize-winning author of novels, A Certain Mr. Takahashi, The Instructor, Exile and The Blue Guitar

I enjoyed your book. While at first I was expecting a murder mystery with interesting characters searching for clues like the last one I read, this one was a book of interesting character development with a side dish of murders. The title definitely fits for several reasons – which you realize as you read/finish.

Joan and Solfrid were delightfully fully developed quickly even though they were not the important characters. Tex and Mariana unfolded much more slowly by design. (She did finally find that one to sit down and talk books with – much to her surprise – and so late). That mysterious story opening finally explained – after you had almost forgotten about it. Clever construction.

This with it’s theme/messages should appear perfectly timed with today’s society. In fact was having a discussion this week with a blogger about well meaning people blundering in and trying to “fix” something without having a clue about the reality of a place or situation. I kept thinking, “She needs to read Susan’s book.” Susan states it so clearly.

Between the recipes, assorted characters, and the universal timeless message, the book should be a winner for book clubs. I will certainly recommend it to a couple once it’s out.

I love your writing style and humor and really appreciate you sending me a copy to read.

Whether intentional or not, there seems to be a huge character quietly looming across your book series: Bequia, the island herself. Each book, even though different, reveals more and more about her as a character and a force. Quite cool.

~ Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, blogger

One Woman’s Island – more advance praise!

As I prepare the manuscript to be sent off for eBook formatting and online sales, I’m also receiving great blurbs about the new novel, One Woman’s Island, from advance readers who offered to write a review for promotion purposes.

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Great news, Susan Toy fans! The long-awaited sequel to her acclaimed novel, Island in the Clouds, has finally arrived. With a sharp eye for description and a well-tuned ear for dialogue (and local dialect!) Toy tells how a recently widowed Canadian woman moves to the tiny Caribbean island of Bequia to find solace, only to discover it’s not quite the paradise she hoped for. A tasty meal of storytelling that comes with complementary recipes!
~ Brian Brennan, Postmedia newspapers best-selling author

One Woman’s Island blends up a splash of sun and fun, with a hearty dose of reality about island life and its people. Toss in a murder or two and you have the perfect recipe for a memorable visit in paradise. Susan Toy has once again toured us around the island of Bequia, where she’s shown us that all is not as it appears in this lush and tropical setting, and that people often hide their flaws and indiscretions not only from the world, but also from themselves. P.S. I think this book should come with a warning that snacks will be necessary to stave off the hunger incited by the contents!
~ Cheryl Schenk, author of The Stibil Forest Adventures: Little Synni’s Moonlight Mischief

I just finished reading One Woman’s Island and thought it was splendid. Once again, Susan Toy brings the real Bequia to a fictional world and uses that combination to great effect. Toy does a wonderful job with the characters’ emotional lives and backstories, using a certain level of implication about a lot of it, which I always like. This wasn’t just the main character, Mariana’s, romp in Bequia. It was a powerful effort to make sense of her life up till then and to figure out, in many ways, who she really is. It’s a character study and an exploration of a foreign culture, maybe on the order of Under the Tuscan Sun. Congratulations to Susan Toy on another feather in the Bequia Perspectives cap!
~ Kevin Brennan, editor and author of Parts Unknown, Yesterday Road, Occasional Soulmates, Town Father

And here’s the link to a previous review I received from Felicity Harley!

Thanks to all reviewers! I’ll share more reviews and blurbs with you here as I receive them.

… better than winning a contest!!

While contest judges may not have considered my novel worthy enough to make their shortlist, I’ve just received far-better validation from a friend who offered to read and write an advance review I can now use in pre-publication promotion.

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And what validation and praise it is, coming from an author who also intimately knows Bequia!

Thanks to Felicity Harley who I promoted previously on Reading Recommendations, and who sent me congratulations on Reading Recommendations‘ anniversary, and wrote a guest post about her two book clubs, and wrote a fabulous review on Amazon of Island in the Clouds … which is how we first “met” online, and since then in person this year while we were both on Bequia.

Here’s what Felicity has to say about One Woman’s Island:

Among its other virtues, One Woman’s Island beautifully captures the spirit of being on the island of Bequia. I also enjoyed the fact that the author’s ear for the local dialogue is faultless.

Besides its lush and exotic setting however, throughout its pages, the book accurately and with pathos reflects the end of an unsatisfactory marriage for narrator Mariana, who is constantly searching for something meaningful to take its place.

There are a slew of interesting characters in the book as well, including a talking parrot and the visitor from hell.

As Mariana tries to sort out her own life, she takes a young girl, Verity, and her two children under her wing, and is criticized about her “plan” in no uncertain terms by Al, one of the die-hard ex-pats who live there:

“I’m so sick and tired of you do-goodnik, butt-in-ski foreigners who come here with your socialist attitudes thinking life should be a bed of roses for everyone in the world. It’s not. What you don’t understand about Bequia is while it doesn’t have an organized social safety net like what you’re used to in pinko Canada, the people here do generally look after their own—maybe not to the level of your satisfaction, but there haven’t been any cases of people starving to death from neglect on this island lately, so far as I know. Am I right, Doc?”

Besides having interesting and believable characters, there is also a fast-moving plot that keeps the reader engaged, including several murders taking place over the course of the winter months Mariana is staying on Bequia.

Perhaps the heart and soul of the book is summed up at the end by Mariana and Tex, a fast-talking, larger-than-life guy with a heart of gold, and one of my favorite characters:

“When I came here last October, I thought Bequia was going to be paradise, Tex,” I said quietly.

“Here’s how I see it: any place you are can be paradise. It’s all in your mind; it’s whatever you want it to be.”

With its complex characters, fast-moving plot, authentic setting and underlying seriousness of questions so skillfully raised, One Woman’s Island is a book that should garner a wide readership, one far larger than those who are already familiar with Bequia.

But for those of us like myself who are familiar with the setting, we’ll enjoy the island the author presents in her book as one we’ve come to know and love, despite its all-too-human complexities.

I’d better get cracking and prepare that MS for ePublication! And I now have my “quotable quote” with that second-last paragraph. It’s perfect for advertising copy!!

Thanks, Felicity! I just can’t thank you enough!