Recently, on the site…
“A few years ago, I was assigned the task of writing a review of Hillhouse’s recently published book Oh Gad! My initial reaction was to wince at the apparent blasphemy of God’s name (Yes, I was raised with the fear of God.), but that was a transitory reaction… Hillhouse is a credible, authentic writer whose voice courts universal appeal. … she creates credible characters who eat, dress, and speak Antiguan. Characters with whom we can identify. Even the Asian Ted in Musical Youth confirms “ah ya me barn” … It is significant to note that in her writing, especially her works for young adults, Hillhouse refrains from ‘pontificating.’ She creates scenarios for her characters and allows them to be themselves. Even though the ‘normal’ behaviors or pranks of teenagers with their accompanying confusions, heartbreaks, and poor choices aren’t documented, her youth are portrayed as real children. … With her unbounded energy, she continues to exploit the literary scene producing works of great insight. If the past is any indication of Joanne Hillhouse’s future, we can anticipate more work in all genres as she continues her journey.” – from Joanne Hillhouse’s Iconic Stance Through Her Works by Valerie Knowles Combie from the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books, 2018
I’m just going to receive this critical assessment of my collected works (minus With Grace which is not mentioned, but including several of my short stories the mention of which is rare) with surprise and delight and gratitude and appreciation that I have works enough to make a collection and a collection enough to draw the attention and insights of Professor Valerie Knowles Combie of the University of the Virgin Islands. It’s interesting (and disorienting) to sit back and hear what someone else has perceived of not just what I have written on the page (pages) but my journeying as a writer from Ottos, Antigua and Barbuda.
“Hillhouse neatly tucks a lesson on colonisation in reverse into Wellie’s narrative. There’s more at stake in the match than wickets and runs, even more than winning and losing. I’m not a cricket fan, so I never saw the sport in that light until I read that paragraph. It makes sense, then, that there’s also more at stake in Selena and Michael’s relationship. For them to win in life and love, they need to reclaim some things, mostly their power, face their past, and break some chains.” – from Love in the Time of Cricket by Nadine Tomlinson
I linked a new review (excerpted above) from a blogger (seemingly from Jamaica) about my second and sixth book Dancing Nude in the Moonlight. I describe Dancing Nude as my second and sixth book because it’s recently come to my attention that because the first edition went out of print and the book became difficult to source, some may not realize that it has been re-issued (since 2014 actually) as a 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings – despite my efforts to promote it. Sales reflect this to be honest as Dancing continues to underperform relative to the positive reviews it receives from readers and reviewers (and compared to my other books). So, this new review makes me happy for a number of reasons – because I’ve been struggling lately it gave me a bit of an emotional boost, because the reader/blogger initially rolled her eyes when she started reading it but the reading of it brought her around (meaning that the writing won her over), and because a new review gives me an opportunity to remind readers that it is very much available in both print and ebook format as Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings. Check your usual online retailer or ask for or order it through your local bookstore.
“While some still debate the real danger of climate change, we in the Caribbean have felt the wrath of storms increasing in frequency and size. In 2017, one of the warmest years on record, the hurricane season was a reckoning like none we had ever experienced. There was no letup. In the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, very few in the Caribbean were left untouched. Dominica, St. Martin, St. Bart’s, Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Anguilla and Cuba — the devastation was nearly complete.
This was a sign of the times. Last year’s hurricane season was a reminder that when you come from a small island, climate change and its effects are not an abstract concept or a slow-moving problem for another generation. Our interest in action on climate change now is literally life or death.” – from Barbuda’s Hurricane Irma Story Is About Devastation And Resilience by Joanne C. Hillhouse at Huffington Post
I added a link to the article quoted above to my Publications and Projects page – one of my online portfolios re my freelancing life. The online portfolio captures some of what I have done #onthehustle and potentially attracts new clients, business, and opportunities. When I was approached by a HuffPo editor to write about Barbuda for the anniversary of hurricane Irma, I knew it was a big and complicated task as the story is still evolving a year later, very much unsettled, and more contentious by the day. My first draft was about three times the length of the prescribed word count so required drastic cutting before submission and then went through a couple of rounds of edits (always with my input whether re explanations, clarifications, expansions, or cuts) before publication. It’s still a very sensitive issue, the article won’t please everyone but I did my best to capture the big issues and, as it was an opinion piece, my own perspective on some of what has and continues to evolve. The frigates returning home was a point of entry for me to the story (I’m always looking for a way in to the story and for this story, after all the research, this was it) and helped me to frame the narrative, but at its heart, this issue is about people (and with news of Barbudans being evicted from one of the remaining shelters on Antigua breaking the same day my article dropped, reinforcing that this is still an evolving story), I hope we remember that.
I’ve updated Joanne’s Picks with my favourite Spike Lee films but because she is the voice (for me) of the last two centuries I’ve (for the first time) archived a previous list, Aretha Franklin’s best (RIP to the Queen of Soul).
The top new/updated posts and page of the last month or so have been…
D. Gisele Isaac – Daughter of the Antiguan and Barbudan Soil (already the most viewed and most shared post of the year which is good, I hope, given my intention in posting it)
Book Reading Update (a post which centered the recently posted review of Althea Romeo-Mark’s The Nakedness of New)
CREATIVE SPACE (The series I started this year to give Antiguan and Barbudan businesses an opportunity to boost local art and culture while boosting their brand)
The top posts and page of the last month (not added in the last month or so) have been…
My Queen of Katwe review (nooo idea why this is trending)
Reviews by others of my first (and third, given that it was re-issued with a different publisher) book The Boy from Willow Bend (glad to see that this is trending)
The rundown of my services (I hope this means more business coming my way)
On the flip side…
The new/updated additions to the blog in the past month or so with the lowest views…
Aretha. Queen of Soul.
My review of Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give
The press release re my Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project (which explains a lot since it didn’t take off at all …but, well, it wasn’t meant to be and I trek on, bringing back the Jhohadli Writing Project this month and promoting a tutoring service for youths)
Previous posts with the lowest views this past month or so (but I’m surprised they’re ranking at all)…
My reflections on working on the book by Hugo Award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal (a past editing assignment)
Other published (fiction) – as in fiction I’ve submitted and which have been accepted for publication over the years (I will add that though it is a very challenging time in many ways, I have been writing new fiction and revising and submitting, so fingers crossed that this page will continue to grow and other opportunities will blossom)
An interview I did for a blog which never ran and so I posted it here earlier this year
Thanks for stopping by; hope you find something of interest. And that we all find some lift in the days and weeks ahead.