Between Canada and the Caribbean: Susan Toy – WIP Interview

author picSusan Toy has been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and is now a published author, publisher, and promoter of fellow authors and their books. Born and raised in Toronto, after completing a degree in English Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, she moved to Calgary in the late 70s and immediately found a job in a bookstore, beginning what has become a life’s career working with books and their authors.  She’s the author of Island in the Clouds, a Baquia Perspectives mystery novel.

Susan , thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, what else can we know about you?  

I’m retired from paid work and now move back-and-forth between Canada and the Caribbean. I have always read voraciously and was fortunate to have enjoyed a career working with others who also love books and writing. I met so, so many great authors along the way – too many to count – and have become friends with most of them. I have always been their champion or cheerleader, in a sense, so carrying on with author promotions on my blog, Reading Recommendations, is a way of staying connected and paying them back, in a sense, for writing so well. Aside from reading, I love to cook and am constantly experimenting with food and recipes.   I share a house in the Caribbean with four cats and one partner/property manager who has never found a dead body floating in a pool.

That’s good to know! What are you working on right now?

cover susan full colour jan2012 - largeI’m rewriting and editing a second novel in the Bequia Perspectives series. This, and the next two, were written about a decade ago, before I knew what I was doing. Since publishing Island in the Clouds, I now have a better idea of the direction I’m moving in with these books.

Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

Are we ever happy with the pace of our work? I tend to be the Queen of the Procrastinators so am easily distracted from what I should be doing, and … Oh, look! Another author to promote or a blog post idea to write up!

If you’re the Queen, then I’m definitely applying for a position as the lady-in-waiting. I do belong in the procrastinators’ court! Plotter, pantser or both?

Definitely a plotter. I know exactly what’s going to happen, who does what to whom, and the timeline the story covers before I begin writing. I don’t write any of that down. It’s all in my head, but it’s definitely plotted before I begin writing. That’s not to say I don’t make changes after the fact. For instance, this new novel was written more than ten years ago directly after Island in the Clouds, including following the time in which it’s set, a few months after Island ends. Some of the same secondary characters recur in the second novel, but I recently decided to make a number of drastic changes to those characters and am introducing new ones into this next story. I’m essentially keeping the original scenes and action I’d already written, but new characters will be involved and I’ve added another plot thread to what I already had written.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Myself. My time-wasting habits. (I actually haven’t written a new first draft in a very long time, because my files are full to over-flowing with first drafts and manuscripts in various states that I have never gotten around to finishing. Many of those were written for contests. Entering contests proved to be the best means for me to complete a first draft quickly. Deadlines also seem to work – although not self-imposed deadlines. See, Maria, how I managed to get these interview answers back to you in a timely fashion?)

I totally empathize. Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?  Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Always. All the time. I have never imposed a strict work schedule on myself, mainly because I know I’d never adhere to it. (See above.) I don’t even have a particular work place where I write. When I’m in Canada, I find I can work quite well in coffee shops or at the library. I’m also not on an agenda to write and publish X number of books in Y length of time. I think by doing that to themselves, many (not all, but many) authors run the risk of producing less-than-perfect work. I’ve assisted authors who were extremely agenda-driven and, rather than taking the time to really hone their craft and enjoy the process, creating something of which we could all be proud, they were self-centred, miserable, and blamed everyone else for their lack of progress and success by insisting on following this rigid agenda of theirs. Remember, haste makes waste! I would hate for a drive like that to ruin my own life, so I try not to worry about the whole “motivated to write” thing. I did, however, manage to write for the 3-Day Novel contest sitting in this chair while looking at this view.

Susan view

A slice of heaven! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I wrote the first drafts of three novels using yellow legal pads and a pen. I transcribed that into Word and have been editing using Word ever since. (I took a few editing courses and learned how to use that system.) Now I may make a few notes by writing them into a notebook with a pen, but I always begin any new manuscript on my computer, in Word. I actually didn’t know of any other tools or apps.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

That’s never been a celebration for me, because I know the fun part is over and the really hard work has only just begun.

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

Even though I have a great deal of experience in publishing books and I have published the work of other authors, I always bring in the professionals, at every stage of the process (editing, cover design, formatting, ePublishing and print publishing). The more eyes there are on any manuscript production the better to uncover potential problems and create a perfect book. I work with a Canadian eBook formatter who not only produces the various eFiles I require, but also looks after listing with online sales sites, including Overdrive which sells to libraries, and collects revenue from them all for the authors she represents. Every month I receive an email funds transfer of royalty payments. No fuss, no muss. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Actually, the one area I do always look after myself is promotion, but that’s because I know of no one else who can promote books as well as I do. 😉

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I am constantly posting marketing tips and ideas of my own, and reblogging those of others, to my blog.  One thing I will say here though is that authors should know who it is they’re writing for, who their target market is, and really aim for that group specifically in whatever promotion they do. Build up a fan base from that target market and let those fans do the promotion to their friends for you.

Is mystery the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I kind of fell into mystery with my first novel because, at the time, it was the best way I could imagine to tell the story of Bequia. I prefer reading literary fiction and that’s the genre I’ve written in for all my non-Bequia stories. The mystery part of these Bequia novels was kind of meant to be a hook to get readers interested in what I’m really writing about in this quartet, which is Bequia. I do believe though that the story we have to tell decides the type of genre in which it best needs to be told. I don’t ever want to be slotted as a writer of one particular genre. That’s so limiting – for me and for my readers. I hope readers enjoy my writing enough to want to read anything I publish, no matter what the genre, or even the form.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Chocolate. Always chocolate.
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi, as long as someone else is making it. (We make our own very fine pizza, but sushi, while we can also prepare it, is another matter because of availability of ingredients and finickiness of preparation.)
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? Ummm, neither? (Won’t read them or watch the movies. They’re just not my thing.)
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Ummm, neither? (Much too young and inexperienced. Give me Sean Connery any day!)
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Sitting on the verandah of my house on Bequia.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Neither again. Running shoes or barefoot.

 Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

My main blog, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing (, includes links to my bio, published novel, Island in the Clouds, publishing imprint, IslandShorts (where I have published one novella, That Last Summer), and the author promotion blog, Reading Recommendations (

Thank you, Susan, and best of luck with the sequel to Island in the Clouds!


Carina Press Mystery Week Blitz

MysteryWeekBlitzBannerThis fall, cozy up with the four deliciously “mysterious” titles by Carina Press featured in this Blitz organized by Xpresso Book Tours.

If you’re in the US or Canada, make sure you join the Blitz-wide giveaway
  • Digital copy of each book featured in this blitz
  • Murder Mystery Party game
  • Magnifying glass necklace

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mistress of Lies by Holly West


Available: September 29, 2014

Format: Ebook

Price: $2.99

Book description:

Book description: London, 1679. Isabel, Lady Wilde, mistress of King Charles II, has made a good living disguised as fortune teller Mistress Ruby, counseling London’s elite. But after the murder of one of her customers, business has taken a downturn, and Isabel is on the verge of accepting the king’s offer to move into the palace.

Isabel’s plans are interrupted when a beggar girl named Susanna shows up at her home, claiming to be her niece. Isabel always believed that her older brother, Adam, died alone during the plague. When Susanna reveals that Adam was actually murdered, Isabel is compelled to take up an impossible task: discover the truth about her brother’s death, twelve years after it happened.

Isabel’s investigation leads her through the gamut of London society, from bear-baiting matches and brothels to the realm of wealthy bankers. But as she uncovers her brother’s dark secrets, Isabel begins to wonder whether the past is better left buried—especially when uncovering the truth could lead to her own funeral.

*Be sure to check out Mistress of Fortune, book #1 in this series by Holly West

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holly_headshot_0214Holly West

Holly West is a crime fiction writer based in Los Angeles. She’s the author of the Mistress of Fortune series, set in late 17th London and featuring amateur sleuth Isabel Wilde, a mistress to King Charles II who secretly makes her living as a fortuneteller. The first in the series, Mistress of Fortune, was published by Harlequin’s Carina Press in February 2014 and its sequel, Mistress of Lies, is forthcoming in Fall 2014. Find her online at

Murder in Real Time by Julie Ann Lindsay


Available: September 29, 2014

Format: Ebook

Price: $2.99

Book description:

With the chaos of summer tourists and fall birders out of town, counselor Patience Price is looking forward to the quiet life she remembers. She longs for some peace. And an apple fritter. But the calm is cut short when a reality show sets up camp to film a special about ghosts on her little island. Now fans, reporters and crew have flocked to sleepy Chincoteague. Who knew ghost hunters had an entourage?

When two cast members are killed in a room at the local B&B—a room usually occupied by Patience’s FBI agent boyfriend, Sebastian—she finds herself on the case. Sebastian doesn’t want Patience ruffling any feathers but, as always, she can’t help herself.

Patience promises to let Sebastian handle the investigation—he is FBI, after all—but after a drive-by shooting, her wicked curiosity gets the best of her. And with the TV show forging ahead with filming, the list of suspects (and the line of food trucks) only grows. But has the shooter already flown the coop? And how do you find a killer when you don’t know who the target is?

*Be sure to also check out the first two books in the Patience Price Mysteries series, Murder by the Seaside & Murder Comes Ashore

Buy Links

Lindsey_headshotJulie Anne Lindsey

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Mother of three, wife to a sane person and Ring Master at the Lindsey Circus, most days you’ll find her online, amped up on caffeine and wielding a book. Julie started writing to make people smile. Someday she plans to change the world.

Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW), Sisters in Crime (SinC) and the Canton Writer’s Guild.

Elvis Sightings by Ricardo Sanchez

CARINA_0914_9781426899072_ElvisSightingsAvailable: September 29, 2014

Format: Ebook

Price: $2.99

Book description:

I’m Floyd—no last name needed, thanks—and I’m a P.I. The only other thing you need to know about me is that I’m not an Elvis impersonator. I live my life fast and hard and yes, in sequined jumpsuits, but more importantly I live my life the way Elvis would have wanted me to. Honestly. With integrity.

It was a tip that the King was still alive and living under an assumed name that brought me to Kresge,

Wyoming. But there’s something bigger than Elvis happening out here. I’ve been beaten bloody by an acrobatic bartender, roped into the search for a missing councilman, fallen for a bearded lady, and threatened by men in black who really don’t want me poking my nose into the town’s business. Half of my leads look like dead celebrities. The other half are either refugees from a broken-down circus or spear-holding Viking wannabes.

I’m in Crazytown, USA, but I can’t leave. Not yet. If I don’t find the missing councilman soon, Kresge will be turned into a Danish-themed amusement park. I’ve never been so close to finding Elvis. And I need to know if my new self-appointed sidekick James Morrison is really who he claims to be.…

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Ricardo Sancrsanchez-headshothez

Ricardo is a writer, creator, and T­shirt collector. He’s written for DC Comics, including work on Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Teen Titans Go! and Resident Evil, among others. His short story Death and Life of the Hero appeared in the Gods of Justice superhero anthology and in 2013 was turned into a successfully funded Kickstarter graphic novel, A Hero’s Death, which will be coming out in fall 2014. He was also the Emmy winning creator of the animated series Re\Visioned: Tomb Raider, which was part of Tomb Raider’s 10th anniversary celebration.

When he’s not writing, Ricardo maintains a vintage toy blog, drives 70’s muscle cars, and shops year round for Halloween decorations for his home in California.

Code Runner by Rosie Claverton

CARINA_0914_9781426899089_CodeRunnerAvailable: September 29, 2014

Format: Ebook

Price: $2.99

Book description:

Ex-con Jason Carr has faced down the toughest thugs in Cardiff, but being assistant to a brilliant, eccentric hacker who hasn’t been outdoors in ten years has its own challenges. Still, he and Amy Lane can solve cases even the cops can’t crack. And when a corpse washes up on a beach, Jason can’t resist chasing the clues—or defying Amy by infiltrating the very gangs he once escaped.

Amy is distraught when Jason’s pursuit gets him framed for murder. He’s thrown back in prison where he’s vulnerable to people who want him dead. He needs Amy to prove his innocence. Fast.

But Amy hasn’t been honest with him—her panic attacks aren’t getting better. And now, with everything that makes her feel safe ripped away, she must stand alone, using her technological skills to expose a baffling conspiracy and a new kind of online crime. Can she clear Jason’s name before danger closes in?

*Be sure to also check out Binary Witness, book #1 in the Amy Lane Mysteries.

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Rosie Claverton

Rosie Claverton, December 2013Rosie Claverton grew up in Devon, daughter to a Sri Lankan father and a Norfolk mother, surrounded by folk mythology and surly sheep. She moved to Cardiff to study Medicine and adopted Wales as her home.

Her first short film Dragon Chasers aired on BBC Wales in Autumn 2012. She co-wrote the ground-breaking series of short films The Underwater Realm. Her debut novel Binary Witness was published by Carina Press in May 2014.

Between writing and medicine, she blogs about psychiatry and psychology for writers in her Freudian Script series, advocating accurate and sensitive portrayals of people with mental health problems in fiction.

Currently exiled to London to train in psychiatry, she lives with her journalist husband and their pet hedgehog.