Tag Archives: Susan M. Toy

A-R International … Self-Isolating Authors Edition: Part 5

This is the fifth part of a series in which Authors I’ve promoted in the Authors-Readers International series tell Readers what they’ve been doing during these past few months of self-isolating … See the introduction to Part 1 for a further explanation. Here are links to Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. (All links on the authors’ names will take you to their A-RI promotion.)

Allan Hudson

Thanks again for the promotion. Appreciate all you do.

During the pandemic and being at home so much, I’ve been writing a lot (of course) and I’ve completed three manuscripts. The one I’m most excited about is at the editor now. It’s titled The Alexanders – Dominic. 1911 – 1920. It’s an historical fiction beginning in 1911 when young Dominic Alexander, due to misfortune in his family, must go live with his bachelor uncle. Separated from his family, he learns a new trade, meets new friends but not all goes as well as it should and after three years, he’s faced with tough choices. Deciding to emigrate to Canada, he starts anew in New Brunswick. It follows the ups and downs of resettlement in a new country. Overcoming loneliness, finding his spot in the new world, with a war raging in Europe. The cover is coming soon, I hope for publication in Aug/Sept.

I also completed the follow up to my well received Jo Naylor action story – Shattered Figurine. She has given up being a detective and is on the move, trying to forget the painful memories she left behind. She’s still a cop in her heart and can’t avoid trouble. A grief-stricken mother begs her to help find her missing daughter. No title as of yet. (Still working on that) I have completed three drafts and I think, it’s ready for the editor.

The third manuscript is of the next Drake Alexander adventure. At the funeral of their comrade in Bordeaux, France, he and his team are approached by a man whose daughter was killed by bank robbers and have never been caught. The only clues are twenty years old. When they take on the task to find the Monteux brothers, they become the hunted. At every turn someone is at their back, taking out witnesses and after Drake’s team members. International in scope, Drake follows clues from France to Germany to Mongolia and Switzerland.
This story is also untitled and in the third draft stage.

I’ve started another novel about a Canadian archeologist & University professor, digging for clues of previous habitation on a desolate island in the South Pacific. What she finds is life-changing for her. Relics from the past that are not of this world.

Other than that Susan, I’ve been working on the Scribbler and have guests lined up until the end of August. Many authors are now reaching out to me and I like that. SBS is getting 2-300 page views a day.

Yahoo!. No boredom here.

Take care my friend. I look forward to the day when we actually meet and I hope it can be next summer when all is back to normal. (Maybe!)

Marty Chan

Thanks so much for including me in your blog posts. I’m thrilled to get the added exposure. What have I been up to during the pandemic? Here are a couple of highlights.

The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Metamorphosis was nominated for an Aurora Award in the Best YA Novel category.
Kung Fu Master made the CCBC’s Best Books of 2020.
– I teamed up with local performer Stephanie Wolfe to do a satirical video series called Letters of the Pandemic, which air on my YouTube channel.
– I did two virtual school visits via Google Meet.
– I signed a book contract for a new book to come out in 2021.
– I’ve been shooting writing-tip videos and folktales for kids for the Young Alberta Book Society and I have a project coming up with the TD Summer Reading Club program.
– I’ll be teaching a few online classes through the summer (YouthWrite & the U of A Faculty of Extension).
– I have a webinar coming up June 9 via The Writers’ Union of Canada. I’ll be talking about digital promotion in the social media era.

Well, I guess that’s more than a couple of highlights. Anyway, I’ve been keeping busy. At this point, I’m just having fun learning how to edit together these videos. It’s a skill set that I never thought I’d learn, but thanks to the pandemic, I had the time and inclination.

Brian Brennan

As always, I am super impressed by the amount of promoting you do on our behalf! Thank you again.

So, what have I been doing during the pandemic? I had three paid speaking engagements cancelled, which set me back a bit because they would have generated sales for my novel, The Love of One’s Country. After voluntarily sheltering in place from March 16 onward, I started keeping a pandemic diary. But I gave that up after five weeks because it was starting to turn into Mark Twain’s “got up, washed, went to bed” routine. I have now watched more Netflix series than I ever thought I would see in my lifetime, and look forward to my daughter Nico’s weekly Facebook jam sessions with her partner, Jeff Kushner, when I pull out my keyboard, sip some chardonnay, and harmonize and play along. As for writing, I do a blog post whenever the spirit moves me, and connect regularly by e-mail with friends and family around the world. I’m now starting to feel like I did after I’d been walking a picket line at the Calgary Herald for eight months in 1999-2000. When will this thing end? Limbo has never been one of my favourite places.

Stay well, stay safe.

David Poulsen

I wish I could think of a clever new way of saying “these challenging times” but I can’t so I’ll talk a little about what I’m doing to deal with the inactivity/economic hardship brought on by the pandemic. First of all, the inactivity part doesn’t really apply. While most of what I do as a rodeo announcer/broadcaster and as a writer/presenter takes place in front of a crowd and all of that has gone away, at least for 2020, self-isolation has left me with time I don’t normally have to work around the place (horse ranch) for getting corrals cleaned, fences built and repaired, yardwork done and even some gardening, which I love and usually miss out on. I have completed a YA novel, tentatively called The Dark Won’t Wait, a mystery thriller for YA readers—we’ll see where it goes in the weeks/months ahead. And I have embarked on an editing course at Mount Royal University in Calgary in the hope of hanging out my editing shingle in the next few months. As for the economic challenges, they are a little more complicated. The bills don’t go away just because the bulk of the income has (temporarily) disappeared. Nevertheless, a little belt-tightening, some help from writers groups and the federal government, some cool online video projects with YABS (Young Alberta Book Society) and knocking off a couple of 7-11 stores a month is keeping those wolves at least somewhat at bay. And there are upsides. Staying home means spending less money, enjoying a lot more phone calls, Skype and ZOOM sessions with family and acquiring skills in the garden and the kitchen; all of those are things that don’t happen normally. The need for maintaining optimism and hope—and I admit there are times when that’s difficult—is perhaps most important of all in 2020. And on that note, let me finish with this. My 98 year-old mom is in a long-term care facility in Calgary that has been hit very hard by COVID-19. And a few weeks ago, Mom tested positive. I’ll be honest–I expected the worst and prepped the family for what I thought would be the coming bad news. But Mom had other plans and is now asymptomatic and has been declared recovered. Take that, Coronavirus! For the next while I plan to work with my horses, tinker with an idea for a fifth book in the Cullen and Cobb Mysteries and read more Canadian—next up, Marina Endicott’s Good to a Fault (long overdue on my part).

Finally, thank you, Susan, as always, for being the force you are in supporting and promoting writers and writing. It is so appreciated.

Seumas Gallacher

Recent medical history and my age constitute two of the high-risk categories for me, and I am obeying the tenet of Working From Home. In Bahrain, the authorities seem to have managed very well to corral the infections … the mortality rate is extremely low , with less than 20 recorded deaths due to Corona virus. I have been working via my laptop and mobile phone on my external corporate advisory work, and doing some other writing-related projects also. I always like to keep my brain busy, and find no great hardship in being indoors most of the time.. whenever grocery shopping is required or a meting in someone’s office, I wear a face mask, as all residents here are ordered to do, -… I wash my hands at least ten times day, and use plenty of sanitizer. the new ‘norm’ is easy so far for me. The crazy imposition of a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in the UK has put my vacation plans on hold until at least the end of the year.

Recently, Seumas posted the following to Facebook and gave me permission to use it here:

..yes! yes! yes! … there is a deputy God, and he works on the express checkout lane at Carrefour in Bahrain… I have waited for years! … yes, years! to witness the glorious event that happened this evening… I was out doing my necessary grocery shopping, and lined up at the queue one along from the express checkout as I had several items to process… a bit of a noise and argument ensued in the express lane… a woman (without a face mask, by the way – that’s obviously for OTHER people to conform to under the current anti-virus local regulations here)… she had a large queue built up behind her… she had started to unload her shopping trolley (yes, a half-full trolley!) onto the counter… loads of items… the checkout clerk did what I have wanted HUNDREDS of express checkout clerks to do for such a long time… he told her she was in the wrong queue and would have to put her stuff back in her trolley and go find a proper queue… at first she was having none of that… a supervisor then appeared, and backed up the checkout man… great stuff!… she continued to remonstrate loudly, only drawing even more attention to herself, and the customers behind her were giving her all sorts of looks and comments from behind face masks, so she didn’t know who was calling her what… it was MAGNIFICENT!… the supervisor bundled her remaining items into her trolley and led off with it to another queue, with her in tow… and lo and behold he lined her up in a queue with about a dozen customers, all of whom looked laden with full trolley-loads… I could not have scripted a better comeuppance… hats off to that checkout lad… my new hero for today! Cheers!

Susan M. Toy

That’s me!

I’ve spent almost the entire past three months on the verandah of my Bequia house – so far unable to travel back to Canada as there have been no flights in or out of the country. We’ve had reasonably excellent internet all this time though, so I’ve kept in constant contact with the world out there, and am especially happy that so many self-isolating authors have responded to my call for updates for this particular promotion series. I’ve tried to keep up with all the promotions I had planned to do, but am woefully behind at the moment … and it’s not because I’ve been frittering my time away on Facebook – well, not ALL my time, anyway!

I HAVE BEEN READING!! (Although I usually have to wait until the cat is finished with the hammock, before I can read there.) I read 16 books during the month of May alone. I believe that’s a record, even for me! Outstanding among these were new books by Richard Ford (Sorry for Your Trouble) and Alex George (The Paris Hours), and many others … Plus I had the great pleasure of beta-reading a new novel by an A-RI Author and new books by authors (one of them is my editor!) who will soon be promoted on my blog. Thank goodness, too, for being able to borrow eBooks from the library! I have never been without something great to read, even though I’m situated on a tiny island smack in the Caribbean Sea, more than 3000 miles away from Canada.  I LOVE LIBRARIES!!

The only problem with this extra time I’ve spent on Bequia this year is we’ve been experiencing a drier than normal dry season that has only just begun to end this past week. But, the cloud with a silver lining (!) in all of this is – PHENOMENAL SUNSETS!! So here’s a photo of one for you that I took just a couple of night’s ago. And you can understand from this why we named our house The View!

Authors-Readers International … to be continued!

On Nov. 29, 2019, I posted to this blog about a new author promotion series I was creating that would run every day throughout the month of Dec. featuring authors I had met (either in person or online) or worked with over the course of my book-business career, and these posts would – hopefully – attract a much-wider, and international-in-scope, readership for everyone involved in the promotion.

Here’s the complete alphabetical list of all authors promoted during the month.

Well, the response to the blog posts far exceeded my expectations! And I know that most of the authors I promoted were thrilled with the exposure they received … because they told me, on social media, in private messages, in emails, and by sharing their posts and those of the other authors with their own readers. My blog stats were WAYYYYY UP over the month of Dec. (Of course, I hadn’t been blogging much at all before I began this series, but the increase in numbers of people reading posts, “liking” them, commenting on them, and sharing increased by great numbers, and, most importantly, attracted a huge number of international readers and from countries that had never paid any previous attention to me or to my blog. This is excellent news not only for me, but for all the authors who I promoted during the month.

I plan to add information about nationalities and where they are living now to the list of authors already promoted. The vast majority of authors I know are Canadian, of course, because that’s where I worked most of my life. But a number of those Canadian authors were not born in Canada, and I’ve met many more authors since that time who reside in other countries, and not just the US and UK either. So those authors and their readers are attracting more international attention to the Canadian authors … and vice versa. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!

I was able to check the stats of where people are clicking from whenever they come to my blog and, aside from the few spam comments originating in small African nations that I had to delete, here’s a list of the countries where readers are situated:

Canada, US and UK had far-and-away the largest numbers, and always in that order. But there were also significant numbers (in alphabetical order) from: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Eremites, Uzbekistan.
**Since this post was published, I’ve had hits on my blog from more countries: Armenia, Brunei, Cayman Islands, Columbia, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ethiopia, European Union, Grenada, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lithuania, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Syria, Venezuela

So, 58 (77 now!) countries altogether! A few were one-offs, but there were multiple clicks for many of these countries over the course of the promotion. The other point I want to mention is that, in the majority of these countries, English is a second language. Even though the majority of authors I promoted so far in this series are English-speaking and write in English, and most of their books have not been translated into other languages, they are still attracting attention from many other places where English is not necessarily the lingua franca. Very interesting, I thought.

Anyway, all-in-all I consider this promotion to have been a success! I hope all the Authors and Readers agree with me! And I plan to continue with it – although not at the frenetic pace of posting one-a-day promotions! I will be posting twice a week now and into the foreseeable future. I know even more authors than those I’ve already promoted, and I’ve sent out notification the the first ten in that list and will begin posting again on Thurs. Jan. 9th and every Monday and Thursday after that.

So … stay tuned! And the very best way to do that, of course, is by subscribing to this blog and signing up in the right-hand column to receive email notification whenever I publish a new post. Or by following me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks again to all the Authors and Readers who have been enthusiastically supporting this series so far! You have truly put the “International” into Authors-Readers International!

(Readers … if you do not see your country listed above, please post a comment below and tell me where you are located.)

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.

Presentation1

(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

 

A-R International: Susan M. Toy

This promotion post is dedicated to the memory of my sister, Betty Bridgman, an avid reader all her life, an enthusiastic supporter of my writing and publishing career, and one of my biggest fans.

Susan M. Toy
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Monique de St-Croix

I have been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and a promoter of fellow authors and their books through my company, Alberta Books Canada. I am also an author and publisher, under my imprints, IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts. Through Alberta Books Canada, I represented authors directly, helping them find promotion for themselves and their books, seeking out new readers, and assisting them in making wise career decisions.

I championed Alberta authors in particular, singing their praises throughout the province and online to the rest of the world, and displayed books for authors and publishers at Alberta library conferences. I continue to promote authors and good books in general, throughout the world and online, with my blog, Reading Recommendations. I created the writing contest, Coffee Shop Author, have sat on the Board of Directors of the Fernie Writers’ Conference, served as a member of the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program steering committee, and was a member of the board of directors for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. I now concentrate on my own writing and publishing, dividing my time between Canada and my home in the Caribbean.

~

For as long as I know myself … as they say on Bequia, I have been a reader and wanted to be a writer. I was fortunate to have been born in Toronto, in The Beach neighbourhood, where the Toronto Public Library branch was a short walk along Queen Street from our house and only a block away from my grandparents’ house. My mother was an immigrant, along with my grandparents, and spoke and read and wrote in three languages – English, French and Flemish. She wasn’t highly educated, having to leave Grade 9 (at Jarvis Collegiate) due to her health, but she had one more grade of education than Dad, who had to leave school during the depression to work and make money for his family. By the time I came along in 1953, my parents were doing much better financially and, with the help of Grandma, were able to buy a house in The Beach and a cottage north of Toronto on South Lake near Minden. I remember my mother reading books, when she wasn’t knitting, and I have a distinct memory of her standing next to the running washing machine reading a very thumbed-through paperback while she waited for the wash cycle to end. It wasn’t until much later, when I could read myself, that I realized the book was the 1957 novel Mandingo – quite racy at the time! Dad read the newspaper. Every day. And summers spent up at the cottage were filled with long and lazy days of reading books. My younger sister and I were allowed to buy a new comic book every Saturday when we went into town for groceries. I always bought Classics Illustrated, and I still have some of those in my own library! Another book I’ve kept with me since winning it in 1967 upon graduation from Glen Ames Senior Public, is a thesaurus. I’m thinking now that my teachers at the time must have known something more about me than I knew of myself …
In high school, a few of my teachers were extremely influential in my decision to study English Literature at Queen’s University at Kingston. I tried my hand at creative writing both in high school and university, but didn’t get far with that then.

Photo credit: Betsy Greenlees

And I also became just slightly distracted by this guy … who has always built bookshelves for me in every place we’ve lived. In a final seminar class my last year at Queen’s, I was the only student who turned up, so the professor and I had a lengthy private chat. He asked what I planned to do with my degree in English. “Oh, probably work in a bookstore,” I told him. And, within days of moving out to Calgary with Dennis in 1978, I managed to land a job – the only one I applied to! – and began working in … a bookstore! And I never looked back. My entire working career has been concentrated on selling books in stores (and my own mail order business, End of the Road Books!), representing publishers to booksellers and libraries, promoting authors, hanging out with authors, organizing and attending “book things” as Dennis always called the many events that were held, giving talks about authors and their books, speaking about promoting books and authors, and then writing and publishing my own books and also publishing books by other authors. Oh, and READING BOOKS! It’s been a totally satisfying life for this particular book-lover, let me tell you!

So this current promotion of authors who I’ve met and/or worked with along the way during my career is a continuation of my belief that we are all in this game together, and we need to be cognoscente of the fact that, if we expose our own readers to the work of other authors, we will broaden the entire reader-base for books in general. The difference in this current Authors-Readers International promotion is the “International” bit. I’ve set my sights on worldwide domination of the book world! (Just kidding! But it does sound like a pretty cool aspiration, doesn’t it?)

~

That Last Summer

I’m listing here the novella I wrote and published as an eBook only in 2013, because the story is based on a summer during the 60s at a cottage that is quite similar to the one my family owned for more than forty years.

I have also written and published two novels in the Bequia Perspectives series so far: Island in the Clouds and One Woman’s Island. I am currently working on writing two more novels in this series as well as a collection of short stories and novellas.

Elisabeth Pauline Bridgman
May 6, 1941-Dec. 23, 2019

For more information about Susan M. Toy, her writing, books, publishing, other blogs, and promotion of other authors, please see her website. (Actually, it’s THIS website! So you can just click on any of the pages listed at the top of this post.)

Authors-Readers International

Authors-Readers International is the name of a new means of online promotion I have developed to help the many great authors I’ve met, previously promoted, have worked with online, or whose books I’ve published, to reach a wider audience – worldwide, I’m hoping! – and receive more attention for their published books.

I’m going to begin this promotion (which will run as a series of blog posts here on my main blog, reblogged on Reading Recommendations, and shared on social media) with a daily post on individual authors, beginning on
Dec. 1 and ending with Dec. 31. Then any further promotions will be less frequent, maybe one a week. Inclusion of authors promoted here will be by invitation only. I want to present the authors I’ve met in person or who I’ve had a connection with online, but also, and more importantly, authors whose books I have enjoyed reading. I want to share their work with readers around the world and give them as much exposure as I can muster. I’ve already come up with a complete list of authors for the Dec. blog posts and I’ll be contacting these authors all within the next couple of days to explain this new promotion to them and ask if they would like to participate.

But really, this is all about the readers out there, and providing all readers with information on good books and authors who may not have previously been on their radar. The crucial part of this promotion though is in the sharing of blog posts and attracting more readers to pay attention to this information I’m compiling.

Eventually I’d like to include online interviews with the authors, encourage all authors to create their own podcasts and videos about themselves and their writing, and allow them to “give a brief reading” from their books via a podcast or video. Online literary “salons” are also a possibility in the future. (I have a lot of ideas for developing this promotion series, and all ideas have already been approved, I’m happy to say, by Betty Jane Hegerat! I’ve promised her that no dressing up as clowns will be involved.)

I’m up for suggestions from readers, too … What would you like to know/hear about new-to-you authors?

Links will be provided to all published work and author websites. These promotion pieces will be brief, but I’m hoping they will offer enough information to encourage more readers to seek out and read books by authors who I personally recommend.

Seumas Gallacher … Writing my autobiography – the best therapy ever

Here’s a guest post from one of my favourite authors, Seumas Gallacher, published here on the occasion of the release of his new autobiography, STRANGELY I’M STILL HERE! I purchased and read a copy immediately upon its being listed, and I include my review here of the book, as well as an original piece that Seumas has provided to me for this guest blog post. (Links to purchase a copy of this book and all others written and published by him will be found at his own blogsite: Seumas Gallacher – Author

This is my review of Strangely, I’m Still Here: An Autobiography

What A Life!

I previously read everything Seumas Gallacher had written and published – fiction, non-fiction, poetry. So I was very motivated to purchase and read his autobiography and to find out more about this author whose work I had enjoyed so much. I thought I already knew quite a bit about the man, having followed him for many years on Facebook and through reading his blog. But this new book proved to be so much more, and gave me great insight into the life path and experiences, around the world as it turned out, that led to Gallacher becoming such an accomplished and engaging author.

If you have read anything previously published by Seumas Gallacher then you will definitely be interested in this autobiography. If you are new to his writing though and read Strangely, I’m Still Here first, and enjoy it as I’m sure you will, I’m positive you will want to read all his other books, too!

Seumas Gallacher’s Guest Blog Post:

Just over six weeks ago, I self-published my life story, STRANGELY, I’M STILL HERE, on Amazon Kindle. As with my other writing exploits, the Jack Calder crime thriller series, my book of poetry, and my author’s guide to publishing, an immense sense of pleasure engulfed me when I had finished the manuscript. However, the aftermath has been decidedly different with the memoir.

The ‘pink cloud’ sensation of elation has yielded to a much stronger feeling of having written something truly for myself and it is having a profound effect on me. When I broached the thought of penning my own experiences, I had no inkling of the cascading torrent of ‘after-light’ that has followed.

I find my mind rummaging back though many of the passages in the book, with powerful re-visitations of feelings and memories which had all but disappeared. Some of the people involved have long since passed away, but I have a deeper sense of how much gratitude I owe to their presence in my story.

Even the apparently negative episodes provided marvellous life lessons, which I only now have come to appreciate and respect at this distance in time. I also understand how much impact certain events and interludes with others have had on shaping my thinking and my attitude to living.

Although all of it was, and still remains, highly personal to me, it has been said many times before that nothing in this universe is absolutely brand new. It has all been seen, done and felt before. I am but a tiny speck on the planet, amongst billions of ‘fellow-specks’, whom I regard in a much different way than when I was a young man.
I have grown up. Older? Yes. Wiser? Who knows. Certainly, more experienced. Writing the memoir was the best therapy for life that I could ever have imagined, and I heartily recommend the exercise to anyone, writer or non-writer – I think they will much the richer for it.

 

I can never resist a man in a kilt!

Dedicated Reading … My New TBR List: Part 1

As some of you may know, I recently moved A LOT of my personal library from Calgary, where it had been stored for a number of years, to my trailer in Ontario. I’ve spent the past few weeks sorting through what arrived, have enjoyed reacquainting with lots of old friends, and tried to figure out how to sort and shelve all the books in this limited space that is my summer home. (That’s part of the fun of book ownership though … being a custodian to all these great books I’ve accumulated over the years – decades, actually – and revisiting with them, remembering why they are important to me and why I am still planning on keeping them.)

I really do have limited space! Even if I were to find another bookshelf it’s doubtful I’d be able to fit it in anywhere … unless I were to move out the pull-out couch in the sunroom. But then, where would overnight guests sleep? So I currently have stacks of books in various places, books that I couldn’t shelve or that are eventually going to be shipped to Bequia (which is another problem … How many more books can I possibly fit on the bookshelves there? None, would be Dennis’s reply).

So, the books I did manage to shelve on the two bookshelves I do have are the real keepers, and mainly signed copies written and published by authors (and publishers) who I know personally, have met, or promoted at some time in my career. The smaller shelving unit I’ve earmarked for Children’s books and Cookbooks on the top shelf, with the rest of the space being dedicated to authors who have not only signed books for me, but who I’ve met, been taught by, or become friends with over the years – and who I also felt to be influential throughout my career in books. These are my mentors and author-heroes. (Not all their books are here though, because there are many authors who have been equally influential but whose books have resided on Bequia for a couple of decades. More on that group of authors and the importance of their books later when I return there in October.) What I’ve done for this first blog post on dedicated reading – because that’s what I’m calling this exercise – is to pull one book written by each of the authors on these shelves, and I plan to these books (alphabetical, according to author’s name) over the next while. Here’s the first stack:

First on the pile and read already is Billy Collins‘s The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems. I met Collins when he was the Calgary Distinguished Writer at University of Calgary and I was on the selection committee. At that time, I bought this and five other books he’d published, and he signed them all. (There are many videos of Collins reading his own poetry posted to YouTube and, if you’ve never read his poetry or heard him read, you’re in for a treat!)

Second is a novel by Jack Hodgins, The Master of Happy Endings. When I was a new bookseller in the late 70s, Hodgins had just published his first books, Spit Delaney’s Island and The Invention of the World. I loved his writing from the very beginning! I met him in Edmonton at a conference (where I also met a couple of other writers listed below) and bought the book I plan to read next. He signed this copy, and I also have a signed copy of Distance, an earlier novel, although I’m not sure now whether I had it with me to be signed at the same time. Hodgins wrote an excellent book on the craft of writing, A Passion for Narrative that has become a standard text book in Canada, and he taught fiction writing at the University of Victoria. One of his students there was Ann Ireland (see below). I have other books by Hodgins in my Bequia library.

Coincidentally, next on the stack is a novel by Ann Ireland! I studied a number of writing courses through Ryerson University (online) with Ireland and she was an excellent teacher, always a great champion of me and my writing as well. We did meet in person a few times in Toronto, at her request, for coffee and to just talk writing and the book business. Unfortunately, Ann Ireland died in Sept. 2018. While I own copies of all her novels, the only one that may be a signed copy is down in Bequia. I’ll have to check that one for a signature. This time around, I’m reading Exile, which was published by Dundurn, a Toronto publisher I repped. I also featured Ann Ireland on my promotion blog, Reading Recommendations.

Next up is another emotional one for me … Robert Kroetsch. It wasn’t until I moved west in ’78 and began work as a bookseller that I learned about a number of very important Western Canadian authors (several of them on this list, in fact), but over the years I discovered what my Eastern Canadian University degree in literature hadn’t taught me – there’s a wealth of great writing that’s been published for decades coming out of the West! Thankfully, I also had the opportunity to meet many of these authors over the decades, and Robert Kroetsch is certainly one of the most memorable. (I first met Kroetsch at that same conference in Edmonton, mentioned above under Hodgins.) I’ve been tearing up in preparation for writing this short piece about the man, so I decided instead to just post what I wrote about him a number of years ago on this blog, when I’d heard he had died in a car crash.

Another of the famous Western Canadian Authors I only heard about after moving to Calgary was Grant MacEwan, and the book I have of his to read is a old tattered edition of Eye Opener Bob (a Calgary classic!), which I suspect may have come to me from the library of publisher, Dennis Johnson (but that’s another story). I do remember hosting MacEwan for signings when I worked at The Guild Gallery in Calgary, and he was extremely popular (especially with the eldery ladies …), having also been the Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta. Then later, when I worked at Sandpiper Books, his granddaughter came to work with us. While I sold many of MacEwan‘s books at those two bookstores and as sales rep for his publisher, I’m embarrassed to say that this will be the first of those books I’ve read. Looking forward to this slice of Calgary history! I also have a copy of Between the Red and the Rockies.

The next author on my list is still writing and publishing and still in contact with me through Facebook. Alice Major writes poetry, for the most part, and lives in Edmonton where she was the city’s first poet laureate and continues to support other writers and the poetry scene. I have four of Alice Major‘s books, all published by the University of Alberta Press, which I was repping and the reason I first met this author. (Again, I believe I met her first at that Edmonton conference!) Alice also participated in a literary salon I organized in Calgary that was generously sponsored by UAP. I will be reading her collection of poetry, Memory’s Daughter, this time around.

I was just a new bookseller in Calgary the year that Sid Marty published his first book, Men for the Mountains, which proved to be a bestseller in Canada. I know we would have hosted him at The Guild Gallery at the time of that publication, but it wasn’t until decades later, at the Fernie Writers’ Conference, that I got to know Sid Marty much better. He’s a musician – a singer/songwriter – a poet, and writer of some very fine non-fiction. I have a more recent collection of his poetry, The Rider With Good Hands, published by Calgary’s Frontenac House, to read.

To Be Continued … Dedicated Reading … My New TBR List: Part 2

Announcing … a new edition of Country Music Country by Bruce Hunter!

IslandCatEditions is very pleased to announce the release of the 3rd edition of
Country Music Country by Bruce Hunter!

Bruce Hunter’s Country Music Country, “a masterpiece,” says The London Free Press, is back in a third edition in eBook and print with an introduction by literary historian, Shaun Hunter (no relation to the author).

Title Page

These powerful linked stories that read like a novel begin in a prairie Eden amongst the last vestiges of wild grass, cottonwood, and an ancient buffalo jump, bounded by an oil refinery, explosives plant and rail yards. Hunter describes in vivid detail, and often with dark humour, the lives of his four characters. First as adolescents and then as adults, they work dirty jobs. Some move away to Southern Ontario and return home again in the moving title story.

Reading Bruce Hunter’s stories, we come to know this place, too. The way Ogden can shape the fibre of a person, and make him yearn to be someone else. The way it can push a person away and pull her home. The way its landscape is constantly changing, and somehow stays the same. The way Ogden can make a writer sing its sweetness and its shadows as if this place and these lives were country music.
… from the Introduction by Shaun Hunter

Author photo by Lisa Stein

Deafened as an infant and born and raised in Calgary, Bruce Hunter worked as a labourer, equipment operator and landscaper before winning a scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts. He then attended York University and graduated with a BFA (Honours) in film and the humanities. After stints teaching at York, Humber College and Banff, he taught in the School of English and Liberal Arts at Seneca College in Toronto for 25 years. The author of six books, including the novel In the Bear’s House (Oolichan Books, 2009), winner of the Canadian Rockies Prize at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, Bruce currently lives in Toronto.

Where to purchase copies of Country Music Country:

Amazon Worldwide – Print and eBook

Chapters/Indigo – eBook

Apple iTunes – eBook

Overdrive – eBook for Libraries

Booksellers and Librarians who would like print copies of the book to resell or for their collection, please email:

susanmtoy (at) gmail.com

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 … 

The Places She Goes … Why We Love Bequia, SVG, Caribbean

Dorothy Adele has published a very comprehensive article on her blog, The Places She Goes, about a recent visit to Bequia … and she mentions my novels at the end! Dorothy sent me a further comment by tweet: “I enjoyed your book, and I mentioned it in my post because, though it’s fiction, I felt that people would enjoy the story and would get a good feel for the Island.”

Following is an excerpt and link to the entire blog post.
Thanks again, Dorothy, for the shout-out!

Photo by Dorothy Adele

Why We Love Bequia, SVG, Caribbean

Bequia St.Vincent and the Grenadines
Uncrowded Bequia

The beauty of Bequia (BECK-way), SVG, or St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is the peaceful pace and the beautiful beaches like Princess Margaret Beach and Lower Bay Beach. The island is colorfully uncommercialized, and some of the best things to do on Bequia is in Port Elizabeth and along the Belmont Walkway.

You won’t find a highrise, casino, high-end designer shop, or jewelry store chain. Instead, you can select from Caribbean artwork, brightly colored clothing, handmade jewelry, handcrafted wooden boats, and scrimshaw. Most importantly, no one peddles their wares on the beach.

In addition to shopping, you have your choice among several seaside restaurants that serve excellent food.

(Continue reading here.)

And here are my links to the two Bequia Perspectives Novels