Tag Archives: writers

2017 – My Favourite Blogs and Bloggers!

Out of necessity, I had to cut down drastically on the number of blogs I subscribe to and read – the number of good blogs out there was becoming impossible to keep up with on a daily basis! So I’ve narrowed down my list here to the truly GREAT blogs I continue to follow and read (and comment on and share) on a regular basis. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you will notice many familiar names. Some bloggers publish posts more than once a day and others are sporadic. But I can guarantee you will always find something of interest to read on these bloggers’ sites. Do check out each and every one of them and see if you agree with me, and I also hope you find a few new favourites to follow and read. (Sorry to those I didn’t list. There was a point where I had to cut off this list!!)

* Denotes the blogger is also a published author and it would be well worth it to check out what they’ve published!

** Denotes the blogger has promoted me and my books on their blog at some time or another.

**Chris, The Story Reading Ape – *Christopher Graham

**Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life – *Sally Cronin

**WHAT THE HELL – *Kevin Brennan

**A Creative State of Mind – *Tricia Drammeh

**blindoggbooks – *Tim Baker

**Seumas Gallacher – *Seumas Gallacher

**South Branch Scribbler – *Allan Hudson

**Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge – Karen Parker

**theshammuramat – *Felicity Harley

beetleypete – Pete Johnson

Leaving Ourselves Behind – Ginny & Stephen

**Betty Jane Hegerat: Canadian author of literary fiction – *Betty Jane Hegerat

Camino De Tim – *Timothy L. Phillips

*Brian Brennan Writer

Books Unpacked – *Merilyn Simonds

**Matilda Magtree and **The Litter I See Project – Carin Makuz

Paul Butler Novelist – *Paul F. Butler

Seth’s Blog – *Seth Godin

My Peacock Books – Cat Peacock

Marathon Mouth – *Bill Corbett

**Owlish Books – Loes M.

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2017 – the other Best Books I read this year!

I have already posted a list of some of the authors whose books I read this year and found to be outstanding. You will find that link here.

But I read so many books in 2017, and many were great reads indeed, so I’ve divided the list into two: that first list covered authors I have promoted on my blog,
Reading Recommendations; this second list is everything else.

Because I tend to be an eclectic reader, you will find on this list: old books and newly released books, fiction and non-fiction, children’s picture books, graphic novels, memoir – even a couple of political biographies, and many books about books and reading (because I’ve been researching a series on Reading for my blog). What I have not listed are the classics and cookbooks (yes, I even read cookbooks!) that I read this year. And I read all of these books in eBook and print format, sometimes bought, sometimes gifted copies, some even won through Goodreads Giveaways, or they were from my own personal library, and many more were borrowed from the public library.

All are considered to be 5-star ratings, as far as I’m concerned. The very, very best books of the lot though are marked, along with the author’s name, in bold.

(The links attached to these titles will take you to more information on that specific book. These books are listed in the order I read them. )

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart

The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michi

Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon

Judith by Aritha van Herk
(Reread after almost 40 years since it was first released! From Wikipedia: Van Herk’s writing career began with the publication of her M.A. thesis in 1978. Judith, a novel that explores a feisty female protagonist’s experiences in both rural and urban Canadian spaces, was the first winner of the Seal First Novel Award (C$50,000) from McClelland and Stewart, which granted the book international distribution throughout North America and Europe. )

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Between Them by Richard Ford

Town is by the Sea by Joanne Scwartz

The Secret Place by Tana French

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi

This Fight is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren

Before, During, After by Richard Bausch

American War by Omar El Akkad
(If I were forced to make a selection of the very best book I read this year, this would be it!)

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken

The End of Your Life Book Club, Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
(The End of Your Life Book Club is the best non-fiction I read, and it really changed the way I read books and think about my reading, and even about my life.)

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley & Kate Berube

The Little Paris Bookshop, The Little French Bistro by Nina George

All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others by Carol Off

The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Arrival: The Story of CanLit by Nick Mount

2017 – Some of my favourite Authors whose books I read this year!

I have read many, many books this year! Some were written by authors I have promoted previously on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and these books I considered to be outstanding! And, in a few cases, I read more than one book by the same author. So, without further ado, here’s a list of those authors’ names and the titles of their books I read in 2017 …

(The links below will take you to that author’s original promotion on Reading Recommendations.)

Thanks to all Authors for continuing to write so well!

Gail Anderson-DargatzThe Spawning Grounds

Tim Baker24 Minutes (to be published in 2018)

Gail BowenThe Winner’s Circle

Kevin BrennanIn No Particular Order

Sharon ButalaWhere I Live Now

Paul ButlerThe Good Doctor, The Widow’s Fire

Sally CroninSam, A Shaggy Dog Story

Tricia DrammehThe Fifth Circle, Firebound (Spellbringers Book #2)

Seumas GallacherA Few Poetry Stops in a Life’s Journey

Felicity HarleyThe Burning Years

Betty Jane HegeratRunning Toward Home

Allan HudsonShorts Vol. 1

J.F. KaufmannEllida, Once Upon a Night (To be published in 2018)

Ken McGoogan50 Canadians Who Changed the World, Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage

J.P. McLeanThe Betrayal

Antony MillenThe Chain

David A. PoulsenSerpents Rising, Dead Air

Mike RobbinsSuch Little Accident: British Democracy and its Enemies, Three Seasons

Merilyn SimondsGutenberg’s Fingerprint

Mary SmithDonkey Boy and Other Stories

Check out Part 2 of this series here.

Print copies of my books … the NEW way!

Both my Bequia Perspectives Novels are now available
worldwide from Amazon in print editions!

All links to purchase both titles in print or in eBook formats
(or to borrow from libraries) can be found here:
Bequia Perspectives Novels

Here’s the background as to how all this came about …

In Feb. 2012 I published the first eBook edition of Island in the Clouds. It had been my idea at the time that we should ePublish first, work out any bugs in the files, create a market for the writing and for a print edition, and then go to print once a demand was established. So I didn’t print Island in the Clouds until June 2012, and at that time I went with a traditional publishing company to do so. This cost me a considerable amount of money up front, leaving me in proud possession of 800 copies of the book – which I then had to store, distribute, and sell myself. Five-and-a-half-years later, I still have about 200 copies left in various locations. I have not been paid at all by several places that took copies on consignment to sell for me, and I have no reliable means of selling those remaining copies. Fortunately, I sold enough of the original 800 to cover my expenses of having the books printed, but I’m nowhere near having made enough money from this enterprise to pay myself back for everything I put into writing, promoting and selling the book by myself.

But then we do it for the love of it, right? This was never intended to be a money-making enterprise. But it was also never intended to be a money-LOSING enterprise …

When it came time to think about printing One Woman’s Island, I had to consider long and hard whether I wanted to travel down that same road. First of all, I did not have the several thousand dollars I knew a traditional printing was going to cost. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to store copies anywhere, or find a new distributor for this new book.

Fortunately for me, I received a blog post from Calgary author, Brian Brennan (who I have promoted on Reading Recommendations), in which he explained how he went about reprinting books of his that had been declared out of print by the original publisher. He worked with our mutual eBook formatter, Human Powered Design (Gina McCreary), to create the print files, and then went to a self-publishing service to have copies printed POD (print-on-demand). I reblogged Brian’s explanation of all this here: Brian Brennan – 3 reprints now available

So, I decided to look into this myself for my own print books. In the meantime, Gina had heard of a new service being offered by Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing Paperback Beta Program – that we could sign into through our existing eBook accounts (which Gina has always maintained for me) and it seemed as though it was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t need to pay anything upfront to Amazon, Gina was able to create the necessary print files and cover designs from my original eBook files and look after the listings for me, and I will receive payment from Human Powered Design for sales made, along with any sales of eBooks, every month, as I have done all along since first listing my eBooks in Feb. 2012.

Plus … I now have the benefit of WORLDWIDE distribution of my print books!! That, to me, is the biggest benefit of printing books in this way.

Here’s another article I discovered about this new service that ran on The Digital Reader site.

One Woman’s Island – print edition now available!

Hooray!! The print version of my second novel in the Bequia Perspectives Series, One Woman’s Island is now listed with Amazon as being available to order!

Since I went with POD (print-on-demand) with this book, here’s how it works if you prefer to read the novel in a paperback format: you place an order with Amazon; Bingo-Bongo! a copy (or copies) is/are printed specifically for you; you receive your order by mail directly from Amazon. (Yes, you pay Amazon directly, but I will eventually receive my royalties on every copy sold.) I won’t be stocking quantities of this book (or lugging them around with me), so your best bet to get a copy quickly is to order from Amazon. Eventually, there should be a listing for every Amazon sales site and I will update the list as I discover new sites.

Here’s a complete list of where to purchase One Woman’s Island in both the print and eBook formats. Also listed there are libraries where you may be able to borrow the eBook.

Now, let’s have some fun! When you receive your copy of One Woman’s Island from Amazon, please send me a photo either of you holding the book or of the book set in a recognizable place that suggests where you happen to be at the moment … you know, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, the Rocky Mountains. I’ll then post all the photos on this blog as I receive them. Send your photos to me via email: susanmtoy (at) gmail.com

Thanks to all my supportive and very enthusiastic readers! You are the reason I keep writing …

No One Ever Died From Reading Too Much…

At least, not that I know. It’s a phrase I repeat to myself with each new book I begin reading. Just to put the amount of reading I do into perspective …

Last summer, someone who shall remain nameless and who does not really know me at all, told me that my problem is I read too much and need to find myself a new hobby. You can imagine how that made me feel. (In case you’re wondering, my snappy comeback was that I thought I wasn’t reading near enough as I could be reading … That was met with a blank stare.)

So, instead of heeding her suggestion, I began to read even more than I had up until then. My entire life has been about books and reading: studying them, selling them, representing them to bookstores and libraries, promoting them, and now even writing them myself.
It’s no surprise I prefer the company of books (and their authors and other readers) over someone like this “someone”. Actually, I believe this person figured I was being selfish of my time – I’ve been accused of this before – in choosing not to be sociable by joining the crowd for chit-chat, but instead sequestering myself away with my ever-growing reading list.

Or, perhaps it’s a case of me being too kind to this person, who has declared publicly that she never reads. Maybe the fact I spend so much of my time reading and am so very well-read makes her feel somewhat inadequate, because she chooses, for whatever reason, not to read books at all. So she blames me for making her look bad and I am responsible for her own failure to match up to me and what I choose to do with my own life.

Who knows.

This is all a long preamble to tell my blog readers I am changing tack and heading in a new direction in what I write about here.

READING will now become the focus, and I plan to write a series of posts on various aspects of the subject, both from my own perspective and that of other readers. My recent blog post, How to Help an Author received an incredible number (for me) of views, likes, shares, and reblogs – plus many comments, so I can see I’m heading in the right direction with this idea. (I’ve been trying to get this series going for a long time now … This time for sure, Rocky!)

I won’t be discussing any longer the issues of how to write, edit, get published, or promote books. I believe I’ve written myself out on those topics and there are plenty of old posts in the archives of this blog, in case anyone is still interested in reading what I’ve had to say. Besides, many other bloggers and websites continue to offer great advice. I’ll leave it up to them to tell you how it’s all done.

But I see little to no information on reading books – both from the perspective of readers and authors (who should always be readers as well, right?). I plan to cover the “Who, What, Where, When and Why”s of reading, as well as “How” we read. I hope readers of this blog will join in on the discussion and add their thoughts about their own reading habits.

I have a funny feeling that, rather than me seeming like an oddity for the number of books I “consume” as a matter of course in my life, I’m going to discover I am far from alone, and that many other readers approach reading in the same way I do …

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

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.