For the Love of Island Dogs

Last year, I was honored to be recognized by Susan Toy and included in her Reading Recommendations. As a result, I met some wonderful authors and found fabulous books for my own “must read” stack.

Susan Toy photo

Susan M. Toy, Author & Publisher

I include Susan as one of those wonderful authors, and anyone who enjoys a good story set in an exotic locale will love her work, too. Here’s a mini-version of Susan’s bio:

Susan M. Toy is a Canadian author and publisher who shares her time between Canada and her Caribbean home on the island of Bequia. She has previously published Island in the Clouds, a mystery novel set on the island. One Woman’s Island is second in the Bequia Perspectives series and will be ePublished in 2015. Susan’s life has always been filled with cats, but she numbers many dog-lovers among her friends. (Read more about Susan and her literary journey here.)

I love this teaser for Island in the Clouds: “Part travelogue, part mystery, Island in the Clouds takes a long, hard look at the reality of living in a place that seems perfect — from the outside, anyway.” Who can resist that sort of book? Even better, it’s the start of a series that will offer an up-close view of island living, with characters (both two- and four-legged) we’ll want to spend time with. (You can read the first chapter here.)

The second in the Bequia Perspectives series is One Woman’s Island, and Susan has generously sent along an excerpt for us to enjoy. (Find that at the end of this post.) As a reader, I love fiction that gives me the opportunity to learn about different places, customs, and traditions (even the not-so-happy ones). As a writer, I appreciate the authors willing to tackle those issues when they fit the story, as Susan has done so well in her work. I felt as though I’d been transported to that island, that boat, and wanted to bring those dogs home with me.

In addition to sharing this excerpt, Susan also sent along some fabulous work by the artist Anna Landry. She has this to say about Anna:

Anna Landry, Artist

Anna Landry, Artist

Inspired by her parents’ interest in art and stimulated by a lifetime of travel, Canadian-born artist Anna Landry was painting and drawing from a very young age. In the mid-90’s, a two-week painting holiday in the sun resulted in nine years spent living, working and continuing to paint on the island of Bequia in the West Indies. Anna has most recently been busy sailing…discovering, photographing, collecting inspiration from the Windward and the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. Most of her paintings are created in her Bequia studio she has shared with many dogs over the years.

One of the truly great things about talking with artists (and I include writers, poets, painters, sculptors, and the like in that category) is the opportunity to hear the inspiration for their work. For both Susan and Anna, one source of inspiration was a Norwegian sailor named Mariann Palmborg. Susan tells me Mariann called Bequia home for several decades where she was a friend to many, “but especially to the numerous dogs and cats on the island. She was the inspiration for the character Solfrid (Mariann even named the character!) and the subject of one of Anna’s paintings. Mariann sadly passed away in 2009 and is still sorely missed by all her many two-and-four-footed friends.” Here’s Mariann, as painted by Anna:

Mariann WhyKnot by Anna Landry

Mariann WhyKnot © Anna Landry

In addition to sharing the image above, Susan scanned other paintings and photos by Anna, with an invitation to include as I wished. I couldn’t choose between them and so included them all in a slideshow. I hope you enjoy both the excerpt and the images as much as I did, and add Susan Toy to your own “must read” list!

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And now as promised: Excerpt ONE WOMAN’S ISLAND by Susan Toy 

You can follow Susan on Twitter, browse her website,  catch up with her on Goodreads, and check out her Amazon author page.  For more information about Susan’s books and where to find them, visit islandeditions.wordpress.com. Happy reading!

Let’s Get to Know Tim Baker

In the world of mystery writing, you’ll find all sorts of characters, settings, and story lines. This week’s featured author takes us into the world of thrillers and crime fiction.

Hanging at the bookstoreOriginally from Warwick, Rhode Island, Tim Baker is an avid dog lover who’s been a volunteer puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, raising and socializing potential guide dogs. His passion for dogs comes through in his writing, and in his very public support of dog rescue work. Like many of the authors you’ll meet here, Tim’s career path took quite a few turns before reaching the keyboard. After 25 years in architecture and engineering, his path led to short stints in the natural gas industry, construction, and even ice cream sales. He wrote his first novel, Living the Dream, in 2007 after inspiration came in the shape of “a bizarre dream” (his phrase, not mine). Ever since, Tim’s been writing fast-paced, off-beat crime stories set in Flagler Beach and St. Augustine. He makes his home in Palm Coast, Florida.

Here’s Tim, telling us about his work:

Typically my novels are fast-paced thrillers with “colorful” characters, snappy dialogue and a healthy dose of humor. People tell me quite frequently that once they start reading my books they just want to keep reading until they finish. I try (as my hero Elmore Leonard advised) to leave out the parts people tend to skip!!

My books are set in the small beach-side community of Flagler Beach, Florida, and the backdrop of a quaint tourist town is a perfect foil for my off-beat stories. I have a band of recurring characters in all of my books, which my readers have all come to know (to the point where I’ve gotten fan-fiction stories about them!). They may not always operate on the right side of the law, but they always make sure that the bad guys get what’s coming to them!

My work appeals to readers who love a good fast-paced, action-packed thriller/mystery. I’ve had great feedback from young adults to grandparents, male and female. Let me note: while there are a couple of passing references to sexual activity, there are no graphic or explicit descriptions. Acts of violence get the same treatment—enough description to set the scene and nothing more. Overall I would rate the book PG-13 (more so for the “colorful” language than anything else).

You want dogs? During the course of the case Steve finds himself trying to take down a dog-fighting ring.

One final thing that, I hope, will appeal to the dog lovers here: A close friend of mine in Rhode Island runs a dog-rescue operation called Golden Huggs Rescue – I have pledged to donate half of all profits from Backseat to Justice to her organization!

BTJ cover

“A unique twist on the typical murder mystery”

Private investigator Steve Salem has learned the hard way that sometimes the law has to take a Backseat to Justice.

Steve is hired by a woman to determine if her husband is being unfaithful. When the husband is executed before Steve’s eyes the widow hires Steve to solve the murder. Once he does, the adventure begins for real when Backseat to Justice takes one of the strangest and unsuspected turns imaginable in a mystery novel.  Read Chapter 1 here.

Read the reviews here.  Here’s what one reader had to say about Backseat to Justice:

“Greed, betrayal and murder with a bit of homespun revenge thrown into the mix. Add a down and out PI,a mystery female, a marriage built on lies, toss in a few wise guys drop them all down into Paradise and Tim Baker has one heck of a story.”

Follow this author!

To contact Tim or find out about upcoming works please visit his website at www.blindoggbooks.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.  And speaking of Amazon, be sure to check out the special price discounts currently offered for several of his books!