Ti Domnik Tales is Featured on ExpatsBlog.com!

 

Did you miss me?  I’ve recently returned to Dominica from a wonderful vacation in my ‘home and native land’, Canada.  While I was away, I received the good news that popular and extensive Expats Blog.Com has selected

Ti Domnik Tales as a featured blog on their amazing website!  I urge you to check it out and have a look at some of the fascinating blogs written by hundreds of expatriates from all over the world about a diversity of experiences in their adopted countries.

I am honoured to be their first  representative for Dominica. If you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures and experiences (so far), then I’d be most grateful if  you could rate and/or leave a short comment on Expats Blog  by clicking on this link and scrolling to the bottom of the page.  I sincerely thank you for your interest and support!

And stay tuned for more adventures as this expatriate, a.k.a. ‘Canadian Canary‘ shares some stories about her memorable experiences ‘back home’ after a three-year absence.

Gwendominica 'limes' while the tide is out at Nova Scotia's Kingsport Beach on the Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy.  Photo taken by Cousin Greg.

Gwendominica ‘limes’ (relaxes) while the tide is out at Nova Scotia’s Kingsport Beach on the Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy. Photo taken by Cousin Greg.

Of course, the  seemingly endless stories of my life on the Nature Island will continue with countless musings on Ti Domnik Tales!

 

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Ti Domnik Tales Blog Has Published 100 Posts about Dominica, the Nature Island!

Dominica, the Nature Island as seen from the coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Dominica, the Nature Island as seen from the coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Mission accomplished!  The piece I wrote about Kalinago Culture and History was the 100th article  posted on Ti Domnik Tales blog. I have now realized my original objective with this significant posting about an important cultural aspect of Dominica.  When I created  this blog in March 2012, I was not sure how far I would get in terms of the number of published posts.  But as you can see, the fascinating topics about the Nature Island are virtually endless!

Therefore, I will continue to write about my experiences on Dominica, as there is much more terrain to cover! Postings may be more sporadic though, as I am turning my attention to my other blog which has been dormant for a while.

Gwendominica walks on red rocks at beautiful Pointe Baptiste, on Dominica's northeast coast - to be presented in a forthcoming post.  Photo by Edwin Whitford.

Gwendominica walks on famous Red Rocks at beautiful Pointe Baptiste, on Dominica’s northeast coast – to be presented in a forthcoming post. Photo by Edwin Whitford.

During the summer of 2014, I will be posting on: www.canarygal.wordpress.com

My Canary Gal blog focuses on  environmental  health  issues and personal experiences related to living with  this challenge.  In fact, I moved to Dominica so that I could better manage this increasingly common condition.  Watch for my travel diary as I spend a little time in” my home and native land” – as this Canary flies north for a few weeks.

I will post the introductory paragraphs on this blog for a short time only with a link to each complete piece on Canary Gal.  I do hope you will be able to join me (vicariously) for some Canadian  summer fun and adventure.  If you are curious about what happens next while I am “home,”  kindly click the ‘follow’ box which you will find midway down the right hand side of the page.

I would be remiss if I did not renew heartfelt thanks to my immediate and extended family, friends near and far,  faithful “followers’ (close to 100!) those who ‘like” me (almost 90!) and/or particular pieces, the people who care to share a comment or two and the thousands of  interested readers from around the world.  Your continued support means a great deal, and helps to keep me motivated to write about the wonderful experiences that form part of my  life on Dominica, the Nature Island.

With appreciation,

Gwendominica

Author

Ti Domnik Tales and Canary Gal blogs

 

 

Savouring Fine Flavours at the Francophone Food Fair in Dominica

As a long-time French  language student of the Alliance Française in Dominica, I  enjoy participating in the various cultural activities that are offered to the public by this active institution.

The Francophone Food Fair at the Alliance Francaise  formed part of the activities held during International Francophonie Month.

The Francophone Food Fair at the Alliance Francaise formed part of the activities held during International Francophonie Month.

During March, much of the world observes International Francophonie Month and Dominica is no exception.  Apart from special French  performances in dance, theatre, poetry and a Mademoiselle Francophonie pageant, one of the highlights for me was the opportunity to taste foods from several countries who are members of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. Of course, Canada as a nation and the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick  form part of this group of 75  states and governments  comprising 56 members and 19 observers.

I happily prepared some

Gwendominica baked goodies from well tested Canadian recipes.  She tempted customers with oatmeal almond cookies; coconut/chocolate brownies; dark fruit cake; and Aunt Vivian's carrot-banana bread.

Gwendominica baked goodies from well-tested Canadian recipes. She tempted customers with oatmeal-almond cookies; coconut/chocolate brownies; dark fruit cake; and Aunt Vivian’s carrot-banana bread.  Photo taken by my French conversation professor, Gildas.

desserts for the occasion, as a proud Canadian who is Québécoise by birth.  Although I was the only table out of seven that offered sweets, they seemed to go down well after about 100 customers had consumed delectable main courses from six other countries:  Congo; Côte d’Ivoire; Dominica; Haiti; France; and Lebanon.  I can assure you that all the dishes were definitely more than delicious!  And the prices for the exquisite offerings were very reasonable too.

Proceeds from this event helped to off-set the costs of hosting  performers Catherine Denecy, a contemporary dancer from Guadeloupe and French actor Jacques Martial, who appeared in  a theatrical piece called  “Notebook of a Return to my Native Land” (Cahier d`un retour au pays natal). It was created by the late Martiniquais playwright Aimé Césaire.  I immensely enjoyed both shows and appreciated the opportunities to experience the high-calibre productions of these renowned  foreign artistes.

As for the culinary arts (and sciences), I already knew what one of my main courses would be before I entered the Food Fair. The instructor of my French conversation course, Gildas Lefèvre, had told the class a few days earlier about his chosen recipes for the event: Boeuf Bourguignon and Chicken Colombo.  I sampled the exotic chicken dish.  It was divine.  The French people seem to have a flair for creating and cooking flavourful foods  (la gastronomie).  I guess it was my lucky day!

Gwendominica student at the Alliance Francaise  posed during a quiet moment with her French conversation professor, Gildas. Photo taken by fellow classmate, Geis.

Gwendominica, student at the Alliance Francaise posed during a quiet moment with her French conversation professor, Gildas. Photo taken by fellow French conversation classmate, Gys.

Gildas represented France well with his exotic preparations of Boeuf Bourguignon with potatoes and Chicken Colombo with rice. 'Colombo' is a combination of spices with a curry-like flavour that orginates in Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Gildas represented France well with his exotic preparations of Boeuf Bourguignon with potatoes and Chicken Colombo with rice. ‘Colombo’ is a combination of spices with a curry-like flavour that originated in Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Carole Bogdanovscky, Director of the Alliance Francaise sold tickets and drinks to eager customers, such as my classmate, Geis.

Carole Bogdanovscky, Director of the Alliance Francaise sold food tickets and drinks to eager customers, such as my French conversation classmate, Gys.

Gildas serves dishes from France to his French conversation students husband and wife Geis and Georgie.

Gildas serves dishes from France to his French conversation students husband and wife Gys and Georgie.

Mr. Raffoul (right) served up his delectable Lebanese dishes to enthusiastic customers.

Mr. Raffoul (right) served up his delectable Lebanese dishes to enthusiastic customers.

The delegation representing Lebanon offered numerous dishes to many interested people.  Mr.  Raffoul, a superb chef, has a reputation around Roseau for the delectable dishes that he serves up at special

events and private parties.  It had been a several years since I savoured such  mouth-watering hummus and tasty taboulleh, which perfectly satisfied my vegetarian side.

Yann, propietor of Le Petit Paris Bakery and Monsieur Agpa, a professor at the Alliance Francaise offered hungry customers a taste of Cote d'Ivoire.

Yann (right), proprietor of the delectable Le Petit Paris Bakery and Monsieur Akpa, a professor at the Alliance Francaise offered hungry customers a taste of Cote d’Ivoire.

I was curious to try the chicken in a flavourful peanut sauce from a Côte d’Ivoire, French West Africa recipe, but unfortunately my pre-existing nut allergy prevented that.

Ronnie, representing Congo preapred teh savoury Sakasaka. Yann, proprietor of Le Petit Paris Bakery, assisted with preparations at the Cote d'Ivoire table.  It was pleasure for participants to sample these unfamiliar foreign flavours!

Ronnie (left), representing Congo prepared the savoury Sakasaka. Yann, proprietor of Le Petit Paris Bakery, assisted with preparations at the Cote d’Ivoire table. It was pleasure for participants to sample these unfamiliar foreign flavours!

About 100 people came to the Alliance Francaise to experience different tastes from seven different Francophone countries.

About 100 people came to the Alliance Francaise to experience different tastes from seven different Francophone countries over 3 hours on Sunday March 17, 2013.

However, from all accounts, it was definitely delicious!  Fortunately, I was able to indulge in another French-African dish from the Congo, called Sakasaka.  It was made from finely chopped  manioc (cassava) leaves and a delicately seasoned fish (tuna, I think).  I really liked it!

The dishes on the Haitian table were all labelled in Creole.  I didn't have to understand the words in order to enjoy the tastes!

The dishes on the Haitian table were all labelled in the  Creole language. I didn’t have to understand the words to enjoy the tastes!

I was busy at my Canadian table until almost the end of the event.  Finally, I had a

Lovely Anaila, who represented Haiti, welcomed everyone to the Food Fair and introduced a group of young Haitian-Dominican dancers.

Lovely Anaila, who represented Haiti, welcomed everyone to the Food Fair and introduced a group of young Haitian-Dominican dancers.

chance to go to the Haitian table, where I was acquainted with some of the servers, but not their foods.  There, the lovely and friendly ladies ladled out  complimentary samples of all their  vegetarian dishes for me.  My recyclable containers were filled to the top!

At 3 p.m., the Food Fair was ready to close down. I had a few pieces of Carrot-Banana Bread left-over, but I wished to share them before I departed. With the permission of Carole Bogdanovscky, Director of the Alliance Française, her husband Gildas Lefèvre took the plate of sweet-bread around the room.  It came back empty within minutes.

Carole, Director and professor at the Alliance Francaise and her husband Gildas, who teaches French conversation smile with satisfaction at the successful conclusion of the International Francophone Food Fair.

Carole Bogdanovscky, Director and professor at the Alliance Francaise and her husband Gildas Lefevre, who teaches a French conversation class smile with satisfaction at the successful conclusion of the International Francophone Food Fair.

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Some young Haitian dancers entertained the diners and servers at the Francophone Food Fair.

Both consumers and servers were satisfied with the results of this culinary international francophone event. The Alliance Française was delighted to have had the opportunity to present various Francophone cultures that exist in Dominica.

And  I was also happy to have a few delicious ready-to-serve exotic meals in my fridge for the next couple of days!

*With special thanks to Carole Bogdanovscky, Director of Alliance Française de la Dominique for reviewing this draft.  Her tremendous  efforts to promote the French language and culture  in Dominica are very much appreciated. I am also grateful as a student to benefit from her dedicated and patient  instruction in the classroom!

Dominica’s Antony Agar: Australian Ringer, Caribbean Sea-Captain, Schooner Builder, Author

Antony Agar reads from his book Queensland Ringer at the 2009 Nature Island Literary Festival.

Antony Agar read from his book Queensland Ringer at the 2009 Nature Island Literary Festival.Photo taken by Celia Sorhaindo of Tropical Ties.

Over the years, I have met some fascinating people in Dominica.  One of them is a friendly long-time neighbour  named Antony Agar, who  has a most unassuming demeanor.   I have gradually  learned that he has done some amazing things in his life, to date.  To me, it’s the stuff of novels and he has managed to fictionalize some of his experiences, add real-life places for the settings, mix in a healthy dose of imagination and serve up two fascinating books (so far): Queensland Ringer (2007) and The Puerto Rico Connection (2009).

Although I had previously written a piece about Antony’s  original design and construction of a 100′ long schooner called the Carmela  (see Caribbean Compass July 2001, p.29), my curiosity was piqued even more after I read these two books.  I was prompted to probe a bit deeper into this humble man’s extraordinary adventures.  Antony kindly consented by giving me some background about his life and work.

Antony Agar as a recent high school graduate in 1955.

Antony Agar as a recent high school graduate in 1955.

After Antony completed secondary school in Barbados in 1955, he accompanied his mother Daphne Agar (a Dominican of British extraction) to England. He thought carefully about what he should do at that point. An English teacher at his Barbados boarding school had tried to talk him into going into journalism, as he  enjoyed reading and had a flair for writing.   But at the age of 18 or so, he resisted as he “thought it would be boring!”   As a young man,  he really had ‘adventure’ on his mind.

Antony took this picture of himself when he was a young ringer in Queensland Australia.  The photo was copied from an old slide.

Antony took this picture of himself with his new camera when he was a young ringer in Queensland Australia. The photo was copied from an old slide.

There were some immediate opportunities: go to Canada, where an uncle held a position as a mining engineer in northern Quebec; or head off to Australia where his maternal grandfather lived, in order to work on a station (known as a ranch in North America).

As he was already familiar with farming  on the family estate in Dominica, ‘down under’ was perhaps the more obvious choice.  He landed there in 1956,  where he took up increasingly responsible positions as a ringer (aka cowboy or gaucho in other countries) at stations in isolated areas of Queensland, Australia.

“I only planned to go for two years,” he recalls. When he returned to Dominica in 1959 with the intention of running his family’s estate,  he only stayed for a couple of months as his mother was comfortably managing the farms on her own.  So he went back for another five years!  “I enjoyed the life as a ringer,” he admits. The remoteness, vast cattle stations that stretched on and on for miles and miles, unforeseen challenges, the camaraderie among the workers, and the adventure suited him well. “It wasn’t a huge shock to live there.”

Antony recollected that in those days, there was no electricity on his family’s estate in Dominica, but most homesteads on remote  Australian stations had generators. ” And back then all the work was done on horseback. Nowadays they have helicopters and motorbikes!” he remarked.

After he finally returned to Dominica in 1963, he never went back! “But I think of Australia a lot,” Antony admitted with some nostalgia.

He wasted no time in starting a dairy farm along with limes and bananas on the family estate. Although he loved the land, boats had always been a part of his  life in Dominica. He owned a Carriacou (Grenadian Grenadines)-built cargo schooner in the 1970’s.  It was called the Mayflower C.  As a sea-captain, he regularly transported agricultural produce from Dominica to Barbados.  Unfortunately, one day the anchor let go and it went aground. He couldn’t find another one to buy at that time so  he got an idea that perhaps he should build a schooner himself!    He

The Carmela was designed and built by Antony Agar. The vessel is 100' long on deck with a 25' beam, a 12' draft and a 10' deep cargo hold. She operates with a crew of four. She was sold to a St. Lucian businessman several  years ago. Photo taken by Maurice Agar.

The Carmela was designed and built by Antony Agar. The vessel is 100′ long on deck with a 25′ beam, a 12′ draft and a 10′ deep cargo hold. She operates with a crew of four. She was sold to a St. Lucian businessman several years ago. Photo taken by Maurice Agar.

then advertised in boating magazines for possible plans. While in limbo about boat building designs,   he picked up a pen and started to write “for something to do.”

“But Hurricane David squashed all that.”  The family home in Dominica was completely demolished by the fierce category 4 tropical cyclone in August 1979.  It took a very long time to rebuild it.  Years passed and Antony started thinking about his dream-boat again.  He researched boat plans again, including a set from

The Carmela under construction.  What a frame!

The Carmela under construction. What a frame!

the Smithsonian Institute.  However, they didn’t exactly suit what he had in mind.   Antony want to build a cargo schooner much the same as his previous boat, only larger.  Eventually, he came up with his own design.  Then there were many unanticipated hurdles during its construction.  After a very traumatic two-day launching, he managed to put his 100′ long schooner called the Carmela (named after Carmel, his Canadian-born wife of more than 45 years) into the sea off Rockaway Beach near Roseau in 1992.

The Carmela first operated as a cargo vessel and then later became a charter boat. Photo taken by Maurice Agar (Antony's son) off of the coast of Martinique during the Gli Gli expedition in 1997.

The Carmela first operated as a cargo vessel and then later became a charter boat. Photo taken by Maurice Agar (Antony’s son) off of the coast of Martinique during the Gli Gli expedition in 1997.

Once she was in the water,  he and his crew  sailed to other islands with “what little pieces of cargo did not go by  [container] ships” in those days.  However, the large boats began to accept smaller shipments, which reduced the demand for this special service.

One of the outstanding memories of that era was the Carmela’s participation in an expedition called the Gli Gli   in 1997. A group of  indigenous Kalinagos from Dominica sailed for 800 miles in a traditional dug-out canoe to South America to retrace their original ancestral voyage a thousand years earlier. The schooner, as the mother-ship, provided support for crew and housed all the necessary equipment.  Antony recalled that it was a very successful journey which took over two months. One of the highlights was the delight on the children’s faces when they first saw the schooner as it sailed up the Waini River in Guyana.  They had never see such as vessel before.

At about that time,  he and his family decided to offer tourism and excursion services from Dominica. The Carmela was subsequently remodeled so that it could be used as an overnight and weekend charter boat.  But then the global economy started to downturn and their new venture was no longer lucrative.  Several years ago, the Carmela sailed away from Dominican waters when she was sold to a St. Lucian businessman. After so many adventures on his hand-built schooner, Antony was suddenly a captain without a ship!

“I was very much at loose ends after having sold the boat.  It was probably already in my mind to write a book,” he reflected.

When he started writing

Queensland Ringer is a semi-autobiographical novel about a young cattle rancher's experiences in Australia.

Queensland Ringer is a semi-autobiographical novel about a young ringer’s experiences in Australia.

Queensland Ringer, which was published in 2007,I thought I might make it into two books, but I never did.”It actually took a couple of years to write it, while his wife Carmel, a retired teacher, proofread and provided encouragement.  Antony chuckled when he remembered that  part of the challenge was “learning to operate the computer!”  Happily, as he went along, it became easier.  Although it  was over 50 years since he lived in Australia, he enjoyed recalling his experiences  as a stock man (cattle rancher) in the  late 1950’s/early 1960’s.  A number of his fictional characters were”based on people [he] knew.”   It was a special honour to have Australian artist John Cornwell create the unique cover design.  After the semi-autobiographical book was released, Mr. Cornwell wrote to Antony to tell him how much he enjoyed the book, as he felt that the Australian outback was portrayed very accurately.

Antony and his wife Carmel have been married since 1967.  Photo taken at a family gathering in Antigua in March 2013.

Antony and his wife Carmel have been married since 1967. Photo taken at a family gathering in Antigua in March 2013.

Other positive reviews of Queensland Ringer can be found on  Lulu, where the hard copy and the e-book are available for purchase.  Residents can also borrow it from the Roseau Public Library in Dominica and the National Library of Australia in Canberra.

As soon as his Australian adventure story been completed, Antony immediately set his literary sails in a different direction.  The Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rico Connection is an intriguing murder mystery which is set on a number of islands, including Dominica.

The Puerto Rico Connection is an intriguing murder mystery which is set on a number of islands, including Dominica.

Connection is an intriguing murder mystery which is set in Dominica and other Caribbean islands. Antony had always like to read mysteries and he had held onto an idea for a long time about how he would begin the book.  “Once I started it, it just came out.  I didn’t have any plan,” he confesses.  As a seasoned sailor, he was fascinated with a scenario where a fugitive stows-away on a schooner and suddenly tries to hijack the captain.  He incorporated this “vision” into this novel which evolved from Antony’s imagination.  While the settings and cultural context accurately reflect life on several West Indian islands, the characters are completely fictitious.
The production of this book was again a family affair, with Antony’s wife Carmel working alongside as proofreader and cousin Dr. Lennox Honychurch creating the beautiful cover art island scene.

When I read The Puerto Rico Connection, I was at enthralled  with my vicarious boating excursions  to different islands south of Dominica.  I particularly enjoyed identifying a number of places that the protagonist visits on Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia.  I got caught up in the fast-paced plot and the suspenseful twists and turns scattered throughout the book.  It made me want to sail away for a few days (but under less fearful circumstances)!

Residents of Dominica can borrow this book from the Roseau Public Library.   It is also held in the Dominican Collection of the reference sections at Roseau, Grand Bay, Marigot and Portsmouth branches. Other interested readers may buy the hard copy of this book at Lulu.

As to other plans, Antony says  he is “keen to see what happens next.”  There are some short stories in the works, which are set in  both Australia and Dominica.

If they  turn out to be  anything like Queensland Ringer and The Puerto Rico Connection, then  they will be well worth the wait.  I  am eager to read what I expect will be captivating short stories  by my  extraordinarily accomplished  and completely unassuming neighbour, Antony Agar.

*With special thanks to Celia Sorhaindo of Tropical Ties, Wendy Walsh of Delphis Inc. and Elise Johnston-Agar of Agar & Johnston Architects for their invaluable assistance.

** Heartfelt gratitude is extended to Antony for sharing his story, reviewing the draft for accuracy and for sourcing a few more photos!

Canadian Librarian Gives Thumbs Up to West Indian Murder Mystery!

You may recall that Canadian librarian Judy MacLean of Fredericton, New Brunswick won a copy of Island in the Clouds by author Susan Toy of Calgary, Alberta and Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (see https://gwenithwhitford.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/canadian-librarian-wins-west-indian-murder-mystery-contest/

Here is her unsolicited review of the book, which I have reprinted with her permission:

Just wanted to report that I received Sue’s book on Thursday and finished it  yesterday (Saturday)! As I sat out in my sun-room enjoying the warm gentle breezes I pretended that I sat in a villa atop a mountain looking down at the incredible scenery that the book spoke about. I enjoyed my adventure, though I’m not sure her description of the windy roads, police or the drug runners did much for my desire to go to her island! ha ha
I did like her book and it made it all the more fun to read knowing that you knew her and the area the book described. I was a little surprised that they didn’t seem at all bothered about the killing of the “pirates” or the tampering with the money or clothing found on the property – especially the gun. It had me guessing though, and that’s the beauty of a “whodunit”.
Please send Sue my thanks and best wishes for the continued success of her book! I was actually thinking that Geoff’s character could get into even more adventures. As a property manager, he could see and hear all kinds of interesting things, and he seems to be better at asking questions and solving mysteries than the authorities. Perhaps he could become a private investigator – which is kind of ironic since he has a history to hide.
As the book cover indicated, this book was part travelogue, and I think it was just the right amount of information. I really enjoyed that. In another book however, she might be able to talk more about the industries – fishing or tourism or whatever – maybe a combination! Some fisherman pulls up something or someone in his nets. Would love to hear more of the local dialect and get a sense of how these people might handle another mystery – or even more about what their daily lives might be like. I suspect there are also many stories in history about pirates or ghost stories or spiritual beliefs that could be incorporated into another exciting story with colourful characters.-  By Judy MacLean   
Gwendominica and Judy MacLean (right) when they last met in Canada in 1997.  They have kept in constant contact and hope to reunite someday soon!
Judy, your feedback is really appreciated.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Island in the Clouds with us!

Island in the Clouds – a Bequia novel

Available as an eBook to purchase online from:
Kindle
Kindle UK
Kobo
Apple’s iBookstore/iTunes: Apple Canada, Apple US, Apple UK
Print edition is now available!

ISBN 978-0-97879385-2-7 CDN/US $18.95


Discussion about Island in the Clouds on Tripadvisor


Canadian Librarian Wins West Indian Murder Mystery Contest!

Gwendominica and contest winner Judy MacLean last met in 1997, when Gwen was embarking on her Dominican adventure and Judy was working and raising her family.

I am thrilled to announce that Judy MacLean, a librarian in Fredericton, New Brunswick  Canada is the winner of a free copy of Island in the Clouds by  Susan M.Toy of Calgary, Alberta Canada and Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Judy was the only entrant in the contest, and she did attempt to answer the question with logic and reason! (See my Win a Free Copy of a West Indian Murder Mystery! post and my Canary Gal blog.)

Judy and I go back a long way – to November 1984 (!) in fact.  I met her in the Nova Scotia Provincial Library in Halifax Nova Scotia on the first day of my first big job as a professional librarian. She was working there as a library clerk at that time, but within a few years went back to Dalhousie University to obtain her Master of Library and Information Studies degree.  Then she headed home to New Brunswick, got married, raised three boys and continued to work in various capacities within the profession. She is currently the Information Services librarian in the Science Library at  the University of New Brunswick.

Despite her full and active life, Judy does find time to write and recently published a very moving  autobiographical article entitled ‘Nothing Short of a Miracle’ in Canadian Teacher Magazine in September 2011.  She is working on another humorous  and heartfelt piece,  entitled ‘Reflections of the Chicken Lips Lady’ which she hopes will be in print in the near future.

Even though we haven’t seen each other very often over the years, we have always kept in touch.  It means a great deal to me that Judy follows my adventures on Ti Domnik Tales with tremendous interest and curiosity.  I expect to see Judy and her husband Archie on the Nature Isle someday very soon!

Judy and her family at her eldest son’s wedding in May.

In the mean time, some words of my dear friend Jude bring me great comfort, despite the miles and time apart:

“Take care! It’s been great talking to you! And I thought of you when I looked out the window last night on our big and bright moon.”
Congratulations Judy!  I hope you will enjoy ‘Island in the Clouds’ as much as I did!

Island in the Clouds – a Bequia novel

Available as an eBook to purchase online from:
Kindle
Kindle UK
Kobo
Apple’s iBookstore/iTunes: Apple Canada, Apple US, Apple UK
Print edition is now available!
ISBN 978-0-97879385-2-7 CDN/US $18.95


Discussion about Island in the Clouds on Tripadvisor

Win a Copy of a Cool New West Indian Murder Mystery!

When I first met Susan Toy of Calgary, Alberta Canada and Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I had no idea that we would continue to correspond and occasionally meet over the years.  I was amazed that as complete strangers we had so much in common: island life; writing; reading; cooking and cats!
We’ve both been immersed in our mutual interests and I am delighted to announce the release of Susan’s first novel – a murder mystery called Island in the Clouds. It is set in her adopted
country, tiny Bequia, but there’s nothing little about the action in this intriguing plot!
Island in the Clouds by Susan M. Toy

The dead body in the pool is putting a serious dent in Geoff’s morning. An ex-pat property manager on the Caribbean island of Bequia, Geoff doesn’t want a spotlight shone on the secret past he left behind in Canada, but now he’s the suspect in a brutal murder. With no help from the inept local police force, he’s drawn into investigating the murder himself, to clear his name. As Geoff finds out more about the circumstances surrounding the killing, and he and his loved ones find themselves in danger, he begins to see a very dark underbelly of the place some people call paradise…
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.

Reviews:

So here we have a dead body in a swimming pool, a fantastic locale, and a cracking good yarn. Ever dreamed of running away to a Caribbean island? Author Susan Toy entertains while providing the inside scoop on what that might be like. And not to worry. You’ll exit this mystery with your dreams intact.
~ Ken McGoogan, author, How the Scots Invented Canada, Fatal Passage

Island in the Clouds is a wondrous mystery, set on the lush island of Bequia in the Caribbean. A Canadian with a secret past becomes both suspect and investigator for two murders on the island. Along the way, he shares sharp insights into the history and life of this gleaming gem of a place. Susan M. Toy is a keen stylist who never fails to drive her story forward with a sure hand. As in all well-crafted mysteries, the solution to the crimes is both thoroughly surprising and perfectly logical. Toy shows us the sights and lets us hear the rhythms of the islanders and, cunningly, allows us to peek into the lives of a sexy set of expats.
~ Michael Fay was the founder of the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society

‘Clouds’ Contest: Win a FREE Copy:

If you’d like a chance to WIN a FREE copy of Island in the Clouds, you can do so right here.
It’s easy – all you need to do is correctly tell me what years  I have visited Susan Toy in Bequia, then send me a comment, citing the specific years.  I will not post your comment but I will post your name, indicating whether you are correct.  Then correct respondents will be entered into a draw, to be held  on July 1st (Canada Day!).  I will make the draw with someone else and will post a picture to confirm that it’s been done.  Then the winner will be notified in a subsequent blog.
The deadline for responses is June 30, 2012.  Here’s your only hint:  I have more than one blog now.
Correspondence on ‘Clouds’ between author Susan Toy and Gwendominica:
Susan  in Bequia:
Island in the Clouds – in Dominica!

Soon after moving to Bequia in 1996, we received a message from a fellow Queen’s grad who saw our notice in the university’s Alumni Review about retiring to a Caribbean island. She wanted to pick our brains about our experience of moving to the tropics. That’s how we met Gwen Whitford who came to check out Bequia. She eventually settled on the island of Dominica and still lives there today, where she teaches and writes. I was in contact with her again in January when I announced the ePublication of my new novel. Gwen offered then to read and review it. As well as sending me some very kind words, she also attached pictures to be included in my Where in the World??? promotion. Thanks, Gwen!

Gwen in Dominica:

I finished ‘Clouds” last night and I LOVE IT!  I was spellbound by the development of the plot and the quirky twists that you sprinkled throughout. Sometimes I found I was even holding my breath! I also was laughing to myself about many of the cultural differences that you so cleverly pointed out between foreigners and Bequians – well I would say all West Indians for the most part. As an expat living in Dominica for almost 15 years, I could really identify with so many of Geoff’s remarks about life on Bequia. I also wondered how readers who have not spent much time in the Caribbean (other than as a tourist) would identify with the cultural differences. Don’t Stop the Carnival!

In addition, I was intrigued by the descriptions of Bequia and I could actually place myself in many of the locations (Admiralty Bay, Moonhole, the taxi stand, the Frangi Hotel, the ferry dock, etc), thanks to the two visits I had with you. My slight familiarity with the setting really added to my enjoyment of ‘Clouds’, because I could easily picture the places in my mind. However, your narrative, but very descriptive writing style would make it easy for any reader to ‘picture’ the place.

In my dreams, I can see myself flopped down on one of Bequia’s lovely beaches with ‘Clouds’ on my lap, a cool brew beside me, and between chapters, a dip in the sea as I work my way through it in an afternoon or two.

Thanks again for this wonderful murder mystery. I can’t wait for the next one!

Canadian author Susan Toy on her porch overlooking Admiralty Bay in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines:

Print edition will be available June 21, 2012!
ISBN 978-0-97879385-2-7 CDN/US $18.95


Discussion about Island in the Clouds on Tripadvisor