This post is a catch-all

The Writing Journey continues

A new adventure awaits. I’ve been invited to present at two panels at the Sharjah International Book Fair.

I’m also scheduled for a school visit (so I’ll get to see first hand if children in the United Arab Emirates can connect with With Grace and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). I have to credit the New Daughters of Africa global anthology for this opportunity as I was recommended to be a part of their panel at the Book Fair, subsequent to which the organizers invited me to participate in a panel on young adult literature. Here I go.

Site updates

The Appearances page has been updated with this pending event.

The Performance Reviews page has been updated, meanwhile, with the latest feedback from “A very satisfied client.”  Let me know if you need my services via the contact button on the page.

The current CREATIVE SPACE main page features the winning designer in the Antigua and Barbuda Independence Fashion Show, and she also happens to be my niece. Check her out.

Also this Independence season, my nephew participated in his first schools panorama – they didn’t win the prize, but their hard work, composure, and execution won my heart.

The Willow Bend Endorsements and Reviews page has been updated with an old review of sorts – it’s about that time an Italian student reached out to me about the book which she had come across in a course she was taking at the University of Pisa. In actual Italy. This was my first book and I had so many questions… like how?…and what? Writing and publishing, man, it’s an odd journey; you write these words and you never know where they’re going to land.

What I’ve watched

I’ve been talking up Eddie Murphy’s Dolemite (on Netflix) because it is da bomb. I’ll just tell you what I shared on social media with a friend who asked about the Rudy Ray Moore biopic’s Oscar chances: I mean comedy rarely gets recognized, so who knows but it’s Eddie’s best performance in years in my opinion, the ensemble has a lot of chemistry, the movie is mad entertaining…and oddly inspiring. My third Netflix rec without reservation this year after When They See Us and Unbelievable.

I also thought Always be my Maybe (with Keanu Reeves) was fun. So, there you have it, the best of my year in Netflix so far for 2019 .

I don’t remember where I caught it but Ice T’s (not new) doc Something from Nothing: the Art of Rap was a treat for this hip hop head. I need to keep an ear out for the soundtrack.

From YouTube, I wanted to share this doc on Madame C J Walker

– the first female, African-American millionaire because I got the sense when I shared my review of a book on her life that many of my visitors hadn’t really heard of her before. So, if I’m right about that, I’m hoping you’ll watch the video and re-visit the review. And if I’m wrong, watch the vid and revisit the review anyway.

Finally, I caught one and some of the new Watchmen series. I mostly tuned in to the pilot episode for Regina King but it grabbed me, and yet I fell asleep twice trying to watch episode 2 – no fault of the series (all me). I’m behind on so many of my series at this point that who knows what this means but I’ll keep it on my watch list.

What I’m reading

As I’m only 245 pages in to New Daughters of Africa and I’m a part of a contributor panel this week; so, I have my reading assignment. That aside, the only thing I finished lately is (not a book hence why I’m not adding it to Blogger on Books) Benjy by Olive Senior from her book the Commonwealth Award winning Summer Lightning and Other Stories. It’s actually shameful that I haven’t read this since Olive was one of my first workshop facilitators.

Meeting Olive Senior again, 2016, at the BIM lit fest.

My only excuse (and I’m not saying it’s a good one) is too many books too little time. Anyway, I loved Benjy (actual title: The Boy who Loved Ice Cream), which I discovered in a workshop last year; it’s about a boy who goes with his family to the village fair with nothing but his first taste of ice cream on his mind, I mean obsessively so, in the way a child wantswantswants. His father is similarly obsessed with his distrust and jealousy of the boy’s mother – their obsessions clash at a climatic point in the story. It is a master class in tension and warring desires.

What I’m writing

I’m actually revisiting a play (with specific purpose) at the moment and got a fair amount of work done on it at the hair salon recently; who knew the salon could be conducive to writing?

For much of the year, I’ve been trying to sneak my writing moments. I benefited from being a part of the mentorship programme sponsored by Commonwealth Writers for the first half of the year, working on new pieces and revisiting older pieces – submitting etc. I’ve maintained contact with my mentor – he’s tough but be also believes in my writing (he has asserted as much and I’m choosing to believe him) and that’s been a boon through rejections and other trials. The work continues.

This is my Sunday Post.

October Wrap Up —

I don’t think I’ll be doing an October wrap up (I’ve really only finished-finished one book, Dreamland Barbuda, which became the first vlog in my #BookChat #unfiltered series) but Kristin Kraves Books has a dope one including one of King’s best, Misery. Check her out.

Happy Halloween!! # of Books Read: 10 # of Pages Read: 2,988 Favourite Book(s) of the Month: The Only Plane in the Sky, Supper Club, How We Fight For Our Lives Frogcatchers by Jeff Lemire Frogcatchers was my first graphic novel from Jeff Lemire, and it will not be my last. I was incredibly moved […]

via October Wrap Up —

Lost Writings From Zora Neale Hurston Have Been Found And Will Be Released In 2020 — MadameNoire

Usually, I’m not a fan of works being put out after an artist’s death especially when all indicators are that the artist did not want the work released in life (Harper Lee, Michael Jackson, Prince). But I’m not mad at this. Maybe because I sort of believe that Zora would have put out more of her stuff if she’d had her way but she fell on hard times and then died; and because of how she died and was forgotten until Alice Walker resurrected her (recommended reading for that relationship: In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens), this feels like a necessary recovery of her works. I’m there for that. That or I’m just a hypocrite who selfishly wants the work out in the world so that it can know her greatness (intention be damned). I hope not though. Zora has been one of my all time faves since I read her novel Their Eyes were Watching God waaay back… and Valerie Boyd’s biography Wrapped in Rainbows years later, plus reading other collected works and short stories of Zora’s, just solidified the love. Still, hopefully this recovery and release is what she would have wanted.

Source: Donaldson Collection / Getty Zora Neale Hurston is one of the most revered writers of the Harlem Renaissance and decades after her death her literary work continues to be rediscovered. HarperCollins subsidiary, Amistad Books, will be releasing more of the late author’s work at the top of next year. According to VIBE, Hitting A…

via Lost Writings From Zora Neale Hurston Have Been Found And Will Be Released In 2020 — MadameNoire

First Impressions Friday (book meme and blog round-up – October 25th 2019)

Well, looks like book meme week around here because today I’m doing First Impression Friday (thanks too Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books for hipping me to it). The meme is hosted by J. W. Martin and it invites you to talk about a book that you just started, and give impressions and predictions. Kristin shared her thoughts on Misery – a book I read and a movie I saw in my university years, and which was one of the few cases of the book and movie both being really, really good – but distinct entities.

I just started a book that’s polar opposite to the dark tension of Misery – regency era romance adventure Of Noble Family, my fifth read in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist series (after Shades of Milk and HoneyGlamour in GlassWithout a Summer, and Valour and Vanity). I really like this series and I’ve had this book for a while – I got it and the whole series to this point as a gift from the author as thanks (don’t worry, I also got paid) for some work I did on the book during the editing phase. As the author explains in the Afterword which I referenced in this post (going so far as to share the pages in which she references us working together – which I only just found out about because I started reading the book and flipped to the back to check her extensive notes for …something).

So I already know how this book turns out, sort of…maybe. You know how it is, a lot changes between drafts and at my last contact with the book, it was still evolving… done (but no book is done, done until it goes to press). I am familiar with these characters and familiar with this particular plot but the reading of it (so far, 48 pages in) still feels fresh.

Where I am in the narrative, the characters are en route to Antigua, where I live (which is why the author commissioned me to review the dialogue and offer editorial suggestions on the book). The bulk of the narrative takes place in colonial/plantation era Antigua, in the Caribbean, and considering that this was slavery era and the story centers two white people, the author handled it about as sensitively as a white American author could, more than. She went the extra mile in seeking out someone who was a writer and editor intimately familiar with, at least the modern variation, of the place she was seeking to write about in a time when people who look like me were enslaved. She was concerned with treating these people’s existence with authenticity and sensitivity while telling a story that included a major fantasy element (glamour is a natural and organic part of this world). She listened and the book was better for it – her words (and I also felt so as well during the process of me first doing a sample edit then being trusted with the entire manuscript).

Now, if I’m apprehensive about anything it’s to see how I’ll feel about it with the kind of distance I have now as just another reader. I’m not worried about the storytelling itself – this series has so far not failed to entertain (and up to page 48, so far so good). But reading history is always tricky when you come from a history marked by the collective pain that people of African ancestry carry. So, I’ll let you know on the other side.

So, that’s my First Impressions Friday.

Can I share some other stuff though?

Something I listened to – the War of the Worlds 1938 CBS radio broadcast as directed by Orson Welles based on the H G Wells story. It was so dope. And timely too given that my just started writing project is a radio drama script (wish me well).

Something I wrote – a new CREATIVE SPACE featuring the Antigua and Barbuda Independence visual arts exhibition which gives my thoughts on the art and makes a case for a national gallery. The previous CREATIVE SPACE entitled Research Matters (and the Archive Digitization Project) has been archived.

Something I heard about – a book I edited earlier this year launched this past week (congrats and happy pub day to Kathy Esquivel of Belize on the launch of her book, Benjy). The author gave me a shout out in the acknowledgments Kathy Esquivels book(I haven’t read the final draft so I don’t know how it turned out but I appreciate that she was receptive to my notes and hopefully the book is better for it). Looking for a writer or editor, see my services breakdown and my performance reviews to see what this author and others have had to say about my services.

Something I added to the blog – new instagram reader reviews of my teen/young adult novel Musical Youth to the Musical Youth Reviews and Endorsements page.

Thanks to the readers who continue to share the love – shout out to A-dZiko who this past week received a national award, the Musgrave medal, in Jamaica.

Something I’m looking forward to reading – Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s She Said and Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill about the reporting that brought down Harvey Weinstein and shone a light on Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement. I’ve been watching their Times Talks and all that, and Ronan’s appearance on his boyfriend Jon Lovett’s Pod Save America show, and I don’t have the books yet nor time to read them, but I’m in – the journalist in me is intrigued.

Something I’m looking forward to watching – Dolemite is My Name on Netflix (Eddie Murphy is back, baby!) and, unexpectedly, Black and Blue starring Tyrese and Naomi Harris (I say unexpectedly because it wasn’t even on my radar but a series of interviews by Tyrese on hip hop radio got me interested – studio can’t say he didn’t work to sell this movie). Looking forward to forming first impressions on those as well.

ETA: Another Friday meme – F is for Friday (shout out to Lyn*Nomadic Worlds for reminding me of this one) which requires me to answer four questions.

F – Feature your latest book obsession (it doesn’t have to be your current read)

-I’m enjoying today’s read Of Noble Family but I suppose the book I’m most obsessed with from my active reading pile is Derry Sandy’s dark Caribbean fantasy fic Greyborn Rising, and I am itching to read the two books I mentioned I’m most looking forward to reading above Catch and Kill and She Said.

I – Indicate which book/s you are looking forward to reading this weekend.

-I read according to the day’s or even the moment’s mood and I like to leave it open. Could be I’ll continue Of Noble Family, maybe pick back up Greyborn Rising, or the other one I’m close to finishing Wartime at Woolworth‘s…could be something else. Play it by ear.

F – Favorite quote of the week/day

-I don’t have a favourite quote but I like what Tyrese said in one or more of his interviews (referenced above during his promotional stops for Black and Blue) about not giving up even at your lowest because you don’t know what life could be preparing you for…don’t give up. I need to hear that over and over and over again.

F – Five things you’re happy or grateful for this week.

-the new Musical Youth review I woke up to on booktube last Sunday – sharing again in case you missed it

– this plus the instagram posts referenced above
-that a friend and I did a night lime to check out the Independence visual arts exhibition (linked above in CREATIVE SPACE), also our ice-cream and beer run because it’s the little things (which brings me to)
-bobby from a corner shop (M and Ms has nothing on this sweet cheap chocolate ball that takes me back to a happy place from the best parts of my childhood nestled inside of me)
-conversations with my father – and that he is my rock and something both soft and solid I can lean in to when I waver
-I would like to say Regina King winning is always a win (she is so dope in Watchmen, the only show I watched this week) but Dolemite (with Eddie Murphy) drops this week and I am pre-emptively thankful for the laughter

Real Quick – Top Five (or Seven) Tuesday

Didn’t think I’d be participating in a meme so quickly after It’s Monday! What am I reading and Tell me Something Tuesday (I’ve got stuff to do!!!). But thanks to Rebecca at Bookishly Rebecca, here I am: Top 5 Tuesday (actually top 7 since I’ve ‘read’ exactly 7 audio books). Didn’t think I’d read 5 audio books much less 7 but here (in order from least to most favourite – though I enjoyed them all).

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (Baldwin has deeply revealing insights about race and Black masculinity in America in deeply evocative language; the only reason this is so far down the list is I’d rather read Baldwin than listen to his words in someone else’s voice – this is why Sonny’s Blues is also a DNF)

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (glad I finally ‘read’ this – she is a classic horror writer, she built the house a lot of horror writers now live in – it might be slow for modern readers and more subtle than the modern appetite might like but for me, as delivered, it was appropriately spooky – the narrator is male and males doing their version of the female voice is always…entertaining)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (not sure who the narrator is but I found the story compelling and was only now and again distracted by the delivery – it did underscore for me one reason I prefer reading and hearing the story in my own voice – if it makes a difference, I liked the audio book better than the movie)

Animal Farm by George Orwell (I’m not sure if it’s the writing or reading but this was extremely vivid and disturbing – the fact that I can’t get it out of my head might have a bit to do with the politics of our times though)

Born a Crime: Stories of My South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (narrated by the author – felt just like him telling us stories of his childhood; very engaging)

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton (this was just full on nostalgia for me as I am of the Brat Pack era and was in love with this movie as a kid)

World War Z: an Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (this was soooo good! With multiple actors, I imagine it plays like one of those pre-TV radio plays must-ve and I can see why they were so gripping that when War of the Worlds ran on CBS radio in 1938 people really thought they were in the midst of an alien invasion)

Monday and Tuesday Book Blog Memes (October 21st 2019)

I think I’ve still got time to get in on Book Date’s It’s Monday! What are you Reading? literary lime; so here goes.

What have I been reading?

So far for October, I finished Dreamland Barbuda, a book about the communal land rights issue in Barbuda –sister island to my home country Antigua. It’s been a contentious issue going back more than a century but got even more contentious in the wake of hurricane Irma in 2017 when the island was completely evacuated after being decimated by the storm. In this book, a Barbudan makes her case for the traditional communal land rights over the free hold land ownership preferred by the central government. This book review is written up in my Blogger on Books series and is also the first installment in my #bookchat #unscripted booktube series.

I also watched I know why the Caged Bird sings, a 1979 TV movie based on the book by Maya Angelou, the first book in her compelling series of memoirs.  I know why the Caged Bird sing was an instant favourite when I read it so many years ago. Yet, I didn’t even know this film existed but it was pretty good (the timing was great too, watching it felt like a great way to pay tribute to the late great Diahann Carroll who featured in it; it just had so many of the giants of Black entertainment from that time in it too – Esther Rolle (of Good Times fame), Ruby Dee (of too many classic films to mention but let’s start with A Raisin in the Sun), Madge Sinclair (of Trapper John MD), and a number of other familiar faces from the late 70s/early 80s film and TV. Co-written by Angelou it was really faithful to the book and as such really well done. Also viewed this October and worth checking out the Sam Cooke documentary on Netflix, The Two Killings of Sam Cooke, another stumble upon.

I have also been digging through my active reading pile depending on interest (most to least interested): Greyborn Rising by Derry Sandy, Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal, Wartime at Woolworths by Elaine Everest, and The Secret (still). Greyborn is an ARC I wish I had time to just sit and read because it’s really interesting, action-packed and different, I’m almost done with Wartime (women at home during WWll) and The Secret – the former I’m moving through at a fairly good clip, the latter considerably slower, and I actually just started Of Noble Family. I’ve read it before (before it was published) and the author explains why – I didn’t even realize she’d done this.

She breaks down why she brought me on board to assist with language editing on her book: “I hired Joanne Hillhouse to translate the dialogue. I also rewrote sections because she made suggestions about places where the communication would be nonverbal. Language is complex and not simply what is say, but also what is not said.”

You can read more re books finished in my last round up.

Meanwhile, I want to shout out a vlogger who finished my book, Musical Youth, Giselle Mills – listen to what she had to say:

If you’re in a reading mood yourself check out my latest CREATIVE SPACE, Research Matters & the Archive Digitization Project (this is the edition), which ropes in one of my recent client projects, research, something I don’t normally do unless it’s connected to my reporting; two poems written recently for blog prompts – The Moon’s Mistress, linked on my poetry page, and The Wedding Project, posted to my Wadadli Pen blog; also at the other blog, a write-up I did on the Canadian non-profit CODE and the Burt Award which has made such a difference in the Caribbean and in my own publishing journey – producing 18 books which you really should check out.  Speaking of my Burt book, shout out to Felicia for sharing it with her readership. BURT AWARD POST from my other blog, and thanks to Felicia again for sharing Musical Youth with her readership for #freestyleFriday.

As for what I’m about to be reading …why same thing I read last week Pinky…lol. I’m slow, distracted, stressed, and busy, I’ll be on my active reading pile for a while. But reading does help lift my spirits which I need whenever I can get it, so I don’t mind the slow.

I did get in two new books this past week, one from an editing client who said “I’m so excited to announce the launch of my novel.   Thanks for all your help. Digital version should be out soon”, and one a graphic novel August, from a fellow local writer; looking forward to reading that one – I think it just might be the first graphic novel from Antigua.

How about that.

It’s already Tuesday as I write this so how about I link it up with Rainy Day Ramblings’ Tell me Something Tuesday, because I think I said a mouthful.

ETA: This week’s Tell me Something Tuesday asks if you would stay in a haunted house for money…Joanne’s answer, no.

#FreestyleFriday “Musical Youth” by Joanne C. Hillhouse

Shout out to Felicia at Nesie’s Place. Thanks for sharing.

Nesie's Place

Musical Youth cover


~ Award winning title ~

2nd place in the 2014 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.
#12 in Amazon Hot New Releases – Teen and Young Adult Performing Arts Fiction – in its first month of release

Featured in Essence Magazine February 2016

Music, Discovery, Love. Can one summer make the difference of a lifetime?

Zahara is a loner. She’s brilliant on the guitar but in everyday life she doesn’t really fit in. Then she meets Shaka, himself a musical genius and the first boy who really gets her. They discover that they share a special bond, their passion for music, and Zahara finds herself a part, not just of Shaka’s life, but also that of his boys, the Lion Crew. When they all get roles in a summer musical, Zahara, Shaka, and the rest of the Lion Crew use the opportunity to work on a secret project. But the…

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