Burt FYI

Huh! Didn’t realize graphic novels were now eligible (or had always been eligible?) for the Burt Award. But good stuff. [sidebar: I’ve been thinking it would be cool to do a Wadadli Pen Challenge graphics/comic strip (yes, I can hear the heads exploding at me conflating these terms but I said what I said) – not a whole book, of course, given the scale of the competition and Antigua and Barbuda, but a four or six panel page maybe. So] I was pleased to see that the Burt Award, a Caribbean prize for teen/young adult fiction, similarly recognizes the popularity of comics/graphic novels among the youth demographic. The Burt Award is also looking for fictional and non-fictional books. This post is really just a reminder to any Caribbean writer with a book idea to get writing, get submitting, and maybe get published.

For some background on the Burt Award and a look at past books coming out of this prize (the prize facilitates the publication of the top three books), check here.

And if you’re a small islander like me, here’s a reminder from Caribbean Reads publisher, Carol Mitchell, who has shepherded no less than two Burt books (pictured above) into the marketplace (because one of the cool things about this prize is that it works with exclusively Caribbean publishers helping to build the publishing industry infrastructure in the region in the process), to remember that we likkle but we tallawah and submit.

So, submit. Submission deadline: October 31st 2018.



From earlier this year

New image from a radio appearance earlier this year, which included a With Grace giveaway and a child’s reading from Lost! in addition to a chat about books and writing, was added to the Media page. Check it out.

with-grace-coverLost Cover Front 4

With Grace – reader review (read other reviews here): “I love this book for so many reasons. It’s one of those books that make you wish you had oodles of money so you can buy a copy for every child in your life and every adult book lover you know. I absolutely love the illustration; I love the depth of the story’s themes, especially the message about love; and I love the way each page exudes Caribbean cultural pride. With Grace is like any number of great Disney animated films in that it appeals to adults every bit as much as it does children, if not more so. In fact, I went back and bought a second copy for an adult friend after gifting the first purchase to my six-year-old niece. Di book deep. Smartly written and deep.”

Dropped in on a youth camp earlier this month and, as always, it was a delight to hear children sing the song from the book.

Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure – “Children will likely relate well to this story of getting lost while daydreaming and to the reassurance that kindly adults will look after strays. The book also gives them a chance to learn more about the work of environmentalists and Caribbean sea life. An appealing book, all the more so for being based on real life.” – Kirkus Reviews (All reviews)




Writing Prompt – The Mango Tief

It’s been a while since I did a writing prompt (I’ll link some of the previous ones at the bottom). This one comes via Writer’s Digest. You know how I am with these prompts, I try to be as pure as possible – writing right through almost without breath and sharing the draft in all it’s roughness. In this case, I’m even showing my side work. The 500 word prompt is actually to write about a situation trying to gently or modestly explain something illegal, outrageous, or lewd to someone who might find it offensive, disturbing or problematic. Mango stealing might be a stretch but it’s what comes to mind – it’s a familiar Caribbean trope. Just because it’s familiar though, doesn’t mean it can’t inspire…because, mangoes.

The Mango Tief

Every Caribbean person has to have a mango stealing story. Here’s mine.

First, it’s a stretch to call it stealing. When mango so plentiful, the birds will peck their share, the dogs will take their share – what, you didn’t know dog eat mango? Well now you know? And what of the knobby-kneed village children, they’re due a bucket or two for risking life and limb and dog bite climbing mango trees on smadee property. Doesn’t it seem like the best tasting mango trees are always on somebody else’s property?

Well, it’s been a while since I was a knobby-kneed anything. Not true. My knees kinda knobby these days but that’s arthritis. And the pain that was like a man that hug up under you whether you want him or not was the reason I knew my mango tree climbing days were behind me. But my spirit wouldn’t have it.

“You want me to take you where?”

That’s my niece daughter being all careful and proper. Sometimes you would think I had no influence at all.

“Country,” I said again.

“To steal people’s mangoes,” she repeated.

“Will you stop saying that? Picking mangoes isn’t stealing.”

“It is when the tree isn’t yours.”

“Gyal, where you think you be, America or something? Antigua dis. Nobody can eat all dem mango that drop. We actually helping out.”

“Helping out huh? Tell that to the vendors in the market.”

I choopsed.

“When I was a little girl,” I started.

“You didn’t even buy mango; yes, I know,” she finished.

I cut my eye at her. Fresh pickney.

“Plenty things weren’t for sale in the dinosaur days,” she teased.

That was an old joke.

Back when she was my little shadow, “Aunty Bee, I can come with you? I can come with you?”, she would tease me about being from before time, dinosaur days. Actually that teasing was a feature of her teenage years but by then we were so solid that even though I was then entering middle age, I didn’t mind the that she was a too-mouthy teen.

Today, though.

“Look,” I said, vex with myself that power had shifted so much in our relationship that I had to explain myself to someone I couldn’t help but think of as a child. A 33 year old child. Which made me old, too old to be climbing mango trees. The very reason I wanted to.

“I won’t get to climb a mango tree probably again,” I explained.

And something in her posture gave. I hated pity but I’d take it.

“Okay,” she said.

She even gave me a boost up the tree when we got there instead of trying to talk me out of it, and kept a lookout for dogs and anyone else who might be irate over a few stolen mangoes, all while catching the mangoes I dropped and dropping them in to the bucket we’d brought.

Yes, a whole bucket. As we knew when I was little; if you’re going to go tief mango, you might as well go all in better make it count.

Written by Joanne C. Hillhouse whose also written a few books and prompt responses like In ShadowToo Strange, Original Sin, A Bad Day in the Imaginarium, The Death of Mr. Richardson, Colin and The World Beyond, Empath, Springtime Friends in September, This is not a Eulogy, The Snake Monster, The Wafer, In War, Music, Love is Magic, Lamplight, Clear, Sad Clown(unnamed), Pieces of the Past, and, wow, I did more of these prompts than I realized. Well, I hope you enjoyed.

Feel free to leave your prompt response – i.e. your own response to the prompt and/or your response to my response to the prompt.

I’m going to go-ahead and Meme this for First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros though it isn’t technically from a book … though it could be. See my last book-ish post here.

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

The writing on the wall more than anything. But as far as books go, I can report that I finished a book today, and started another one – Althea Romeo Mark’s The Nakedness of New, a poetry collection that came in the mail all the way from Switzerland to Antigua a few weeks ago. I’ve also been reading a bit more of the Faye Kellerman book I’ve been reading Straight into Darkness.

nakedness kellerman.png

That’s what’s new on the reading front. No new reviews posted but you can check out my previous reviews at

Blogger on Books 1, Blogger on Books ll, Blogger on Books lll, Blogger on Books lV, Blogger on Books V, and Blogger on Books Vl.

posing With Grace 5My picture book With Grace picked up a couple of new reader reviews – so yay the readers who take the time to leave reviews. You can read the reviews in full here but two of my favourite things I read this week were…

“I love the depth of the story’s themes, especially the message about love; and I love the way each page exudes Caribbean cultural pride. With Grace is like any number of great Disney animated films in that it appeals to adults every bit as much as it does children, if not more so.”

“I adore this Caribbean fairytale! It’s a wonderful story about love, greed and selflessness with unexpected twists, full of Caribbean culture and gorgeous illustrations. I wish a book like this was around when I was growing up.”

One of my favourite things today, meanwhile, speaking to my very soul, was the inscription to me in The Nakedness of New:

“Without dreams we are nature in a drought, dried souls falling into dust.”

And so we dream.


This post is linked up with the Meme It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

JWP #CantStop #WontStop

Riding the momentum of the fourth Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Workshop Series since the start of 2018, we will be moving in to Series 5 later this month. Yes, we will be overlapping with Carnival when life as we know it typically pauses in Antigua and Barbuda BUT a pause is not a full stop. That said, if you’re a Carnival lover like me, you know I won’t be doing anything to interrupt the Carnival. I’ve checked the schedule and we can do this. We will do this. Onward.Promo July August 2018

Read more JWP and other workshops here.
Read about other services here.
Read Performance reviews here.

Read CREATIVE SPACE – an opportunity for Antiguan and Barbudan businesses and businesses operating in Antigua and Barbuda to boost their brand while boosting local art and culture.

Read about my books.
Read reviews of my books.

Lots more to discover on this site; like I said, can’t stop, won’t stop.



This Just in

The latest edition of the Commonwealth Writers newsletter includes a tease and link to my article on the Commonwealth Writers website – What is Voiceprint?

Hope you’ll check it out.


It’s a good issue to jump in on as it’s the one with the announcement of the regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story competition – the regions in question being Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Canada and Europe, and the Caribbean. The stories are being shared on Granta so, in addition to the announcement, there are links to individual stories.

There’s also a link to a story I’m hoping to check out on Adda – the Commonwealth Writers platform for creative works – Good Manners. A link to an article coming out of the Festival of Commonwealth Film rounds out the issue.

Happy reading: Here’s the link.

Funny Women Talking Serious Issues

I always enjoy watching these roundtables…this one is likely to stir up feelings re your own struggles with negotiating, speaking up for yourself, being heard, not coming across as difficult… just me? LOL That’s cool.

Cool discussion though and Tracee Ellis Ross said a word! – “I also have to say, I think it’s okay for men to be uncomfortable. I don’t agree with tearing anybody down but I think it’s okay for people to be uncomfortable and for things to be brought to people’s attention that they’re not aware that they’re doing or aware that they’re doing that need to be pointed out. That we’re in a different time… I think part of the systemic issue is that women are trained to worry so much about a man’s feeling or another person’s feelings that we put ours aside.”

I would like to have seen another woman of colour at the table – a Latina, maybe, maybe America Ferrera. Why America (she is American born of Honduran descent)? Why not? I mean, I haven’t watched Superstore in a minute but I understand the ratings and reviews are still good, and she’s certainly been vocal on the (American) national stage on issues of the day – the politics, #metoo, the anti-immigration policy of separating children from their families (who does that?). She’s an actress and producer, a vocal activist, and she doesn’t get nearly enough mainstream press (compared, say, to her Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants co-stars). I mean, I’m not an America-stan, though I have liked her since Real Women Have Curves, and she was in that hit show that won her both an Emmy and a Golden Globe, Ugly Betty, she’s just the first non-Black woman of colour in a comedy on US TV to pop in to my head in this instance. It could just as easily have been Constance Wu of Fresh off the Boat  or Sophia Vegara from Modern Family or (because why does it have to be one black woman) one of the women from Dear White People or Insecure or Rashida Jones (she was on critical darling Parks and Recreation and has been in a whole bunch of other stuff including currently Angie Tribeca), or, hell, Tiffany Haddish (sure she’s a movie star but she’s also done the Carmichael Show and she’s on that new show with Tracy Morgan). It wouldn’t even be a quota thing, these are all women who are popping enough to be at that table on merit. Plus, roundtables need diversity for different perspectives, more nuanced discussion, and deeper understanding. I even know who I would cut but I won’t say because I’m not here to trash anyone. My cut definitely wouldn’t be Frankie Shaw though, her show (as in she created, wrote, and directed it) SMILF is a fresh, messy (yes, something can be fresh and messy) take on single motherhood, dealing with your past, and chasing your dreams, so it’s good (and surprising) to see her at the table.

Anyway, my alternate casting notwithstanding it was a (mostly) good discussion.