Tag Archives: Susan Toy

150 Canadian Authors to celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday!

As my own personal celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday this year,
I offer a list of 150 Canadian Authors!

These are authors whose books are on my shelves, or who have been promoted on my blog, Reading Recommendations. Many of them I’ve met in person at one time or another (some have even driven with me in my car!), either when I was a bookseller, publishers’ sales rep, or Author Impresario in my business, Alberta Books Canada. Some have also become close personal friends over the years, and for that I am extremely grateful!

All are terrific writers! So I urge you – whether you are a Canadian reader or a reader living anywhere else in the world – to check out any or … ALL of these authors I’ve listed below in alphabetical order. I have included initial links to the authors who have been promoted previously on my blog.

Read and enjoy! Oh, and HAPPY 150TH BIRTHDAY, CANADA, eh!

Margaret Atwood
Gail Anderson-Dargatz
Jerry Auld
Joann Bannatyne-Cugnet
Pamela Banting
Nick Bantock
Joan Barfoot
Karen Bass
Arjun Basu
Kimmy Beach
Eileen Bell
Frank Beltrano
Rick Bergh
Christian Bok
Gail Bowen
Stephen Bown
Brian Brennan
Maureen Bush
Sharon Butala
Paul Butler
Susan Calder
Pam Chamberlain
Marty Chan
Weyman Chan
Pam Clark
Sharon Clark
Leonard Cohen
Matt Cohen
Gordon Cope
Bill Corbett
Joan Crate
Lesley Crewe
N.R. Cruse
Robertson Davies
Della Dennis
Marcello Di Cintio
Roy Dimond
Glenn Dixon
Marina Endicott
Bill Engleson
Mandy Eve-Barnett
J. Michael Fay
Sheree Fitch
Cheryl Foggo
Darlene Foster
Demetra Angelis Foustanellas
Hugh Garner
Don Gillmor
Sheryl Gordon
Katherine Govier
Wayne Grady
Linda Granfield
Blaine Greenwood
Rosemary Griebel
Jacqueline Guest
Lori Hahnel
Richard Harrison
Elizabeth Hay
Betty Jane Hegerat
Robert Hilles
Jack Hodgins
Darcie Friesen Hossack
Barb Howard
Allan Hudson
Bruce Hunter
Shaun Hunter
Hazel Hutchins
Ann Ireland
Mark Anthony Jarman
Glenna Jenkins
Teresa Karlinski
Detlef Karthaus
J.F. Kauffmann
Michael Kelly
Melanie Kerr
Fran Kimmel
Thomas King
Myrna Kostash
Robert Kroetsch
Lee Kvern
Margaret Laurence
Peter Learn
Pearl Luke
Margaret Mackey
Hugh MacLennan
Alistair MacLeod
Alice Major
Carin Makuz
Dave Margoshes
Andy Marshall
Mike Martin
Clem Martini
Sid Marty
Shirlee Smith Matheson
R. Matthias
Steven Mayoff
Matt Mayr
Randy McCharles
Kim McCullough
Pamela McDowell
Ken McGoogan
J.P. McLean
Dan McNeil
Bruce Meyer
Peter Midgley
Kirk Miles
Antony Millen
W.O. Mitchell
L.M. Montgomery
Brian Moore
Douglas Morrison
Alice Munro
Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Michael Ondaatje
Peter Oliva
Ursula Pflug
Timothy L. Phillips
David A. Poulsen
Marie Powell
Paul Quarrington
Bill Richardson
Mordecai Richler
Leo Brent Robilliard
Stuart Ross
Gabrielle Roy
Robert Runte
Candace Savage
Merilyn Simonds
Ron Smith
Bob Stallworthy
Kristina Stanley
Fred Stenson
Richard William Stevenson
Eugene Stickland
Danika Stone
David Suzuki
Geo Takach
Lee D. Thompson
Aritha van Herk
Cristy Watson
Tom Wayman
Alison Wearing
Thomas Wharton
Rudy Wiebe
Nicole Winters
Chris Wiseman
Caroline Woodward
L.B. Wright
Tim Wynne-Jones
Lockard Young

And #151 … Susan M. Toy

beetleypete’s A-Z Film Challenge … The List: A-L

During the Merrie Month of May, I discovered (through friend Felicity Harley’s reblogging of it) a series of posts by a new-to-me UK blogger, beetleypete, titled A-Z Film Challenge. I was late coming into the challenge with my own suggestions (I didn’t begin commenting until around the “L” post, I think), but I was pleased to see that Pete’s series had already attracted a great deal of attention and further recommendations from his blog’s readers that it seemed as though a real online “party” was going on! I also discovered in short time that Pete has an extensive knowledge of World Cinema (which I particularly enjoy) and had many of the same experiences of seeing films for the first time when he was growing up in England as I had growing up in Canada. Turns out we’re just about the same age. While Pete and I mainly agreed on his daily alphabetical choices, I found it fun to search my own memory banks and remember those other films that had meant a lot to me over the decades. I also discovered a few new pals in the comments section who brought even more movie titles and experience to the table. When Pete’s series came to an end, I know I wasn’t the only movie-lover sad to lose this daily reminiscence we’d come to anticipate and enjoy. I asked Pete if he had kept track of all the suggestions made – he hadn’t – and offered to go back over the posts and compile as complete a list as I could. While I haven’t included links to every movie listed (I will leave that to YOU to look them up at IMDB), I have linked back to Pete’s blog posts for each of the Letters, so you have a chance to see Pete’s personal favourite selection and watch the accompanying video he included for each. I’ve divided the complete list into two, just because the number of titles was becoming unwieldy. As well, it has taken me just about a month to compile this first blog post for A-L … so I will post M-Z and Numbers whenever I can get the rest done.

Thanks to Pete Johnson for the original idea of this series, and for his stick-to-it-iveness that kept it going. Also, thanks to Pete’s readers for all their great suggestions!

A

About a Boy
The Abyss
Ace in the Hole
Aces High
Across 110th Street
Across The Universe
The African Queen
The Age of Innocence
Aguirre The Wrath of God
Airplane
Alien (series)
All About Eve
All About My Mother
Almost Famous
Amacord
Amelie
American Beauty
American Graffiti
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
Argo
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
L’Atalante
Assult on Precinct 13
Atonement
Avengers Assemble
The Aviator

B

Babette’s Feast
Bad Boy Bubby
Bad Day at Black Rock
Bad Lieutenant
Badlands
Bagdad Cafe
Barton Fink
Basic Instinct
Battle of Algiers
Batman (series)
Be Kind Rewind
Beetlejuice
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Bedazzled
The Beguiled
Being There
Betty Blue
The Big Chill
Big Fish
The Big Lebowski
The Birds
Black Cat White Cat
Black Narcissus
Black Swan
Blade Runner
Blazing Saddles
Blue Velvet
The Blues Brothers
Body Heat
Bonnie and Clyde
Das Boot
Braveheart
Brazil
Bringing Up Baby
Bullitt

C

Caberet
Caddyshack
Caligula
Candyman
Cape Fear
Captain Alatriste
Captain America-Civil War
Captain Fantastic
Carlito’s Way
The Carpetbaggers
Carrie
Casablanca
Cat Ballou
Cat People
The Cell
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Chicago
Chimes At Midnight
Chinatown
Chopper
Cincinnati Kid
Citizen Kane
City of God
City of Lost Children
Cliffhanger
A Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Clueless
Conspiracy Theory
Cool Hand Luke
Come and See
Corpse Bride
Cosi
The Craft
Crash
Crimes of Passion
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

D

Damien: Omen II
Dances With Wolves
Dangerous Beauty
Dark City
Dark Star
Darker Than Amber
Das Boot
Days of Heaven
Dead Man
Dead Poets’ Society
Deadpool
Death Becomes Her
Death in Venice
Deep Red
The Deer Hunter
Deliverance
Delicatessen
Dersu Uzala
The Descent
The Devil’s Advocate
District 9
Django
Do the Right Thing
Doctor Zhivago
Dogville
Donnie Darko
Down By Law
Downfall
Dr. Strangelove
Draughtsman’s Contract
The Dressmaker
Dressed to Kill
Duck Soup
Duel
The Duellists

E

The Eagle Has Landed
East of Eden
Eastern Promises
Easy Rider
Edge of Heaven
Educating Rita
An Education
Edward Scissorhands
Eight Legged Freaks
Electra Glide in Blue
Elephant Man
Elf
Elite Squad
Elizabeth
Ella Enchanted
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Emmanuelle – series
Empire of the Sun
Enemy at the Gates
Enemy Mine
The Enigma
Enter the Dragon
Enter the Void
Eraserhead
E.T.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Event Horizon
Everlasting Moments
Everything is Illuminated
Evil Dead
Ex Machina
Exodus
The Exorcist
Eyes Wide Shut

F

The Fallen Idol
Falling Down
The Fantastic Four (2005)
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Fantastic Voyage
Farewell My Concubine
Fargo
Fatal Attraction
Female Agents
Femme Fatale
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Fifth Element
Fightclub
Finding Dory
Finding Nemo
Firestarter
A Fist Full of Dollars
Fitzcarraldo
Five Easy Pieces
Flesh & Blood
The Flight of the Phoenix
The Fly
FM
Footloose
For a Few Dollars More
For Your Eyes Only
Forbidden Planet
Foreign Correspondent
The Fountain
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Fox and the Hound
Foxcatcher
Frankenstein
Freaks
The French Connection
Frenzy
Frida
The Friends of Eddie Coyle
From Hell
From Here to Eternity
The Front Page
Frozen
The Fugitive
Full Metal Jacket
The Full Monty
Funny Games
Funny Face
Funny Girl

G

Galaxy Quest
Gallipoli
The Gambler
The Game
Gangs of New York
Gaslight
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Get Carter
Get Shorty
The Getaway
Ghandi
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Ghost World
Ghostbusters
Giant
Gilda
Girl With a Pearl Earring
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Gladiator
Glengarry Glen Ross
Goldfinger
Gone With the Wind
Good Morning Vietnam
Good Will Hunting
The Graduate
Gran Torino
The Grand Budapest Hotel
La Grande Illusion
The Great Beauty
The Great Escape
The Grey Zone
The Godfather (series)
The Gods Must Be Crazy
Godzilla
Golden Eye
Good Day to Die Hard
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Goodbye Lenin
Goodfellas
Goya’s Ghost
The Grapes of Wrath
Grease
Gremlins
The Grifters
Groundhog Day
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

H

La Haine
The Hairdresser’s Husband
Hairspray
Hallowe’en (series)
The Hangover
Hannah
Hannibal Brooks
Hard Candy
A Hard Day’s Night
Hard Eight
Hardware
Harry and Tonto
Harry Potter (series)
Hart’s War
Harvey
The Haunting
Hacksaw Ridge
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
Head On
Heartlands
Heavenly Creatures
Heaven’s Gate
Hellraiser
Hell’s Angels
Help!
The Help
Hero
High Anxiety
High Fidelity
High Noon
His Girl Friday
Histoire d’O
A History of Violence
Hitchcock
Hitch-Hike
The Hobbit
Hollow Man
The Horseman
The Hot Spot
Hotel Rwanda
House of Games
The House of Mirth
House of the Flying Daggers
House of Wax
How the West Was Won
How to Marry a Millionaire
Hurt Locker
Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte
Hyde Park on Hudson

I

I Am Dina
I Am Sam
I, Robot
Ice Cold in Alex
The Ice Harvest
Identity
If …
I’m Not Scared
Imitation of Life
The Impossible
In Bruges
In Cold Blood
In the Heat of the Night
In The Mood For Love
Incendies
Inception
The Incredible Hulk
Independence Day
Infamous
Inglorious Bastards
Indiana Jones
Indochine
Innocent Blood
The Innocents
Inside Llewyn Davis
Interview With The Vampire
Intolerable Cruelty
Intolerance
The Intouchables
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Iron Man
It Came From Outer Space
It Follows
It Happened One Night
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s Alive!
I’ve Loved You For So Long

J

Jackie Brown
Jacob’s Ladder
Jagged Edge
Jane Eyre (1943)
Jason and the Argonauts
Jaws
Jean de Florette
Jeepers Creepers
Jeremiah Johnson
Jesus Christ Superstar
JFK
Jigsaw
Joan of Arc
John Carter
Johnny Mad Dog
Johnny Suede
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Joy Ride
Ju Dou
Julie and Julia
Jumanji
Juno
Ju-On
Jupiter Ascending
Jurassic Park

K

K-Pax
Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior
Kajaki
Kalifornia
Kansas City
Kaos
The Karate Kid
Katalin Varga
Keetje Tippel
Kes
Key Largo
Keys to the Kingdom
Kick-Ass
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Kill Bill
The Kill List
Killer Joe
Killer Klowns From Outer Space
The Killers
The Killing of Sister George
Kind Hearts and Coronets
The King and I
King Arthur
King Kong
The King of Comedy
King of Hearts
The Kingdom
The King’s Speech
Kingsmen: The Secret Service
Kiss Me Deadly
Kiss Me Kate
Khartoum
Klute
Kong Island
Kontroll

L

L.A. Confidential
La La Land
The Lady from Shanghai
Lady Killer
Lady Vengeance
Langoleir
Lantana
Laser Mission
The Last Detail
The Last of Sheila
The Last Samurai
Laura
Law Abiding Citizen
Lawrence of Arabia
Leave Her to Heaven
Lebanon
Lenny
Leon
Les Miserables
Let the Right One In
Let’s Make Love
Liar, Liar
The Libertine
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Life is a Miracle
Life of Brian
The Life of Pi
Lifeforce
Like Water for Chocolate
The Limey
Lion
Little Big Man
The Little Devil
Local Hero
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Logan’s Run
Lolita
The Long Good Friday
The Longest Day
The Longest Yard
Look Both Ways
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Losers
The Lost Honour of Katerina Blum
Lost in Translation
Love, Actually
Love and Anarchy
Love and Death
Love Letter
Love Me or Leave Me
Love Seranade
Loved
The Lovers (1958)
Lucy
The Lunchbox

How valued Readers can become valued Reviewers!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Reviewers Wanted!

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!!

Time for a rethink?

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.

This article is from Ninja Writer, Shaunta Grimes, and this one, Misbelief, is from the most-brilliant Seth Godin.

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.

Sorry, temporarily closed due to Chikungunya Brain …

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!!

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!

Do the Right Thing …

I had originally queued up this post with the thought of talking railing on about the seeming lack of compassion, sensitivity, concern – for their fellow human beings and the world at large – I’ve been witnessing for some time now from people everywhere (and not just politicians but also those close to home) who should definitely know better.

I decided instead to give you some examples of the ways average people, no matter what their income or expertise, can help others – even if it’s just a matter of including those others in our lives and making them feel welcome and wanted. I also added a video among these examples about helping the animals of the world, because we do share this planet, you know.

Personally, here are ways I have helped others …

For some years, I have promoted other authors free on my blogs. I’ve given them exposure on social media and encouraged sales of their books, all for no charge. I’ve beta-read, done some pro bono editing, and offered free advice and contact information to those authors who I consider to be good enough to deserve that help. I have also volunteered teaching literacy.

I have donated print books to libraries and those groups that supply reading materials for people who can’t afford to buy books or do not have library access.

I pledge to do more, however, and am considering other ways I can Do the Right Thing that will make a difference in the lives of others around me and elsewhere.

Here are a few examples I’ve gleaned from social media recently (and, yes, two of these videos are commercials for large corporations) that offer ideas of ways in which anyone can help the world become a better place.

From The New York Times, Home Is Where the Resistance Is

The Cat Man of Aleppo

Or maybe it’s just a small matter of Paying It Forward

And this story is about a friend who is an avid gardener as well as someone who constantly looks for ways to help others and contribute to her community, just because that’s the kind of person she is … Last summer, when her own garden was in full bloom, she began cutting the flowers to create bouquets then knocked on doors of houses on her street and gave those neighbours the gift of her flowers. Such a simple act, but one which I’m sure the neighbours, many of whom she’d never actually met prior to doing this, very much appreciated.

I know there are hundreds more examples of people Doing the Right Thing, and some other examples I have are friends of mine. I want to “up” my own personal game though and, as I said above, will pledge to do more. As I think of other ways I can personally make a difference I will add them to my blog.

So, what about you? Do you know of other examples in which people Do the Right Thing? If you are already helping the world in whatever way you can – for free, without an agenda or opportunity for personal financial gain, and not just by donating cash to causes in need, but by actually offering personal help, a hand up, or even simply showing compassion and understanding to your neighbours, colleagues, animals … Please post those examples and ideas below. I would love to hear from you!

And, like me, please consider pledging to do more – even if it’s just a small act of kindness a day. If enough people do the same, we can make a difference in this world. That’s the kind of world in which I, and I’m sure you, as well, would prefer to live.

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