What’s Up

It’s been a minute so I thought I’d come through and update about what’s new in #TheWritingLife and #onthehustle… maybe #justlife and, of course, right here #ontheblog. I’ll be linking this up with the Caffeinated Reviewer’s Sunday Post.

On the blog, in case you missed it.

I’ve added a post announcing the Cushion Club Summer Read Challenge. Sorry, international readers, this Challenge’s prizes are just for Antiguans and Barbudans. Doesn’t mean you can’t read along. The Cushion Club, you may remember, is a children’s reading club I’ve volunteered with for many years – most of those years as a regular Saturday reader and mentor; more recently, from a distance (e.g. assisting with promo of the Cushion Club Summer Read Challenge). A Challenge like this is a fun way to beat the summer slide while discovering new worlds.

I’ve added a post sharing my response to a writer-in-progress (like myself) re writing and publishing. I’ve since received a query from another writer also seeking something that I tried to give in the best advice I could and, somewhere in there, responded to a third writer with some critique re a manuscript I was asked to endorse. I can’t always read the things that come in nor give the time others might require. I am, myself, a working writer trying to create my own material, strike out at my own opportunities, work on these projects (Wadadli Pen, Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project, etc.), attract clients, deliver for my clients, network and promote (my books and my services), pay my bills, and somewhere in there practice some self-care (about which I remain a work-in-progress). So there’s that – if I have to set boundaries sometimes, please understand that I’m doing the best I can.

I’ve updated the Blogger on Books series with Brenda Lee Browne’s London Rocks. It’s dope (the book); check it out. Other recently completed reads are George Orwell’s Animal Farm (audio book), and S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders (audio book), and Mark Sumerak’s and  Carlo Barberi’s Ororo: Before the Storm comic mini-series. If you’re looking to read more black books here are a list of recommendations I gave on facebook in response to someone who was looking to do just that.

I’ve updated the CREATIVE SPACE series with coverage of the Antigua Dance Academy’s 2019 production Earth Rising. Also dope; sorry you missed it. But I have video! (It’s also uploaded to my youtube channel – subscribe, if you haven’t already). The CREATIVE SPACE series has continued longer than I thought it would given the non-response re direct appeals for advertising dollars (via sponsored post) from businesses operating in Antigua and Barbuda. In fact I had no follow up to the previous CREATIVE SPACE (another theatrical production) planned. But when ADA founder Vee issued an invitation, there was only one answer. Because from my experience of past productions, I knew I would have a good time and I largely did. Thanks to some housekeeping you can catch up with all the CREATIVE SPACEs of 2018 and of 2019 by clicking the links.

Shifts within the Writing Life have included.

New writing, new submissions – but you know that. Older writing like Ah Write! has popped up. I’m about the new writing, though. Thanks to a Commonwealth Writers mentorship that I participated in for the first half of the year, I was able to revise several pieces (with the aid of critiques and edits from my mentor), learn some new things about my writing, and, unexpectedly, because life has been sapping my creative energy, write and complete some new stories, re-engage with a work in progress, and make some submissions I didn’t expect to. A lot of that came together for me when I was doing my participant report and while there has been no huge breakthrough as yet, things are shifting and will, I hope, continue to do so. Because I need it.

You know what else I needed but my soul didn’t know it? Middle school New York City kids preparing a meal inspired by my book Musical Youth in an Iron Chef style competition.

I bumped into this on twitter – my book alongside Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street Gary Soto and Ed Martinez’ Too Many Tamales, and Ann McGovern’s Stone Soup…what!… in a Children’s Aid NYC event (Iron Go Chefs 2019) … shout out to the kids from Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School for selecting Musical Youth. What an unexpected find. You have to understand, I’m from Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean, and my book is out there doing things! Go book! I looked up the Children’s Aid Go Chef’s programme as well and it’s pretty dope – it’s an extension of GoHealthy which promotes nutrition based education. The annual competition “brings together youth from across Children’s Aid sites to challenge their peers in making the best-tasting and healthiest dishes in front of a panel of esteemed judges.” I edited a recipe book earlier this year (the second recipe book edit I’ve done throughout my time as a freelance editor), and reading about GoChefs, the same thought crossed my mind as when I was reading about all these culinary creations, they need to invite me to taste these recipes next time. I love this.

Musical Youth is the book about which Buxton Spice author Oonya Kempadoo recently said “I first recognized the weight of her work by the response of the teens to her book, Musical Youth , in the Grenada Community Library. It remains one of the most popular books with teens, despite their tendency to shun Caribbean literature when they have a choice because they are required to read it in schools.” A bookstagrammer recc’ed it recently as well, saying,

insta 2.jpgThese reviews and recs have been added to the Musical Youth reviews page.

Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary and Other Writings and Oh Gad!  also picked up new reviews, and I’ve also added a review to the Reviews – Other page, where you’ll find reviews and reactions to my other writing (i.e. stories, poems – not the books) including Zombie Island, published 2017 in Interviewing the Caribbean and shared recently on this site.

On the promotional front, I reached out to a couple of people I would normally be reticent to reach out to for reviews, and joined the Ministry of Tourism’s summer promo (after partnering with a local bookstore for discounts on my books Musical Youth and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). Tourism through their platforms gets us more looks and the books hopefully gets more readers.

On the hustle.

Actually an overlap between The Writing Life and being On the Hustle, I did a workshop on STORY with the Ministry of Education. It was my second time doing this (I first did the Summer Institute – which is the annual training programme for teachers – in 2016) and it was nice to be invited back. The participant reviews were positive

“I’ve learned some new ideas to make my class more enticing”

“I got the chance to colour, role play and I enjoyed the first exercise we did. I’m gonna use that as an exercise at school”

“I learned that storytelling can describe the school and cultural activity of sharing different life stories and more”

“I got a whole lot and I wish we had you from the beginning”

etc.

‘There were some unexpected things said in their evaluations – one educator said it was a good memory “to have an Antiguan writer read her story to me”. This participant is referring to my story share – my picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure – which left one, per her evaluation, “heart-warm(ed)” by the outcome of the story.

More fun still was seeing them unleash their creativity, beginning with a Lost! inspired colouring activity which led in to story writing and story presentation and story discussion and analysis (thanks to Lost! illustrator Danielle Boodoo-Fortune for the colouring sheets).

Looking forward – always – to getting to do more of this type of activity.

I also create my own opportunities to do more of this type of activity. The Jhohadli Summer Youth ‘Writing Project, the first or one of the earliest offerings of my Jhohadli Writing Project, is a writing camp for teens that first took place in 2013. My model back then was to get businesses to sponsor scholarships for participants. I’ve had some bumps and yadda yadda yadda this year JSYWP 2019 participants have to pay but I have extended the invitation for those who can’t pay to still apply and will offer spots to one of those applicants without the ability to pay for every two paid up registrants. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll need to spend time between now and July 22nd, when the first of two summer sessions is set to begin, planning (I’m behind where I hoped to be but I’m working, and hopefully it will all come together in time).

Seems like a good time to mention that I provide freelance writing, editing, coaching, and course/workshop facilitation services, among other things (like CREATIVE SPACE, and more). Peep my portfolio and check my performance reviews (for workshops, editing, coaching, articles etc).

Just Life.

Like the sub-head says, just trying to make life. Too busy to do much reading – for my book blogger folks reading this (I’ve even had to pass on a couple of review and/or endorsement requests, though I did at least one in recent weeks). Though surprisingly I just did a count and I’ve completed 22 books so far this year, compared to 20 overall in 2018. So not too shabby. To be honest though 11 of those are comics, 3 are misc. (children’s book, journal, tourism), 3 are audio books, 1 is a poetry book; so I’ve really only read 4 novels (plus I have 4 DNFs which is high for me) – but I enjoyed them all (except for the DNFs obviously – except not really – 1 was an audio book and I’ve reported before on my struggles paying attention to audio books, though I’m reading another one now, but I’ve added the print edition to my TBR; and 1 is a text I passed on to one of my kids after reading the parts I wanted to). See Blogger on Books 2019 to read my reviews. My reading pile (with New Daughters of Africa being my most active read this week) is too damn high and my TBR keeps growing but life don’t care – I will say this, though, reading and writing is one of the things that keeps me buoyant through the storms. It is for me one of my happy places and I need that.

We’re coming up on Carnival in Antigua-Barbuda and Grace’s Merrymakers, 2017, my mas inspired by my children’s picture book With Grace, is one of mine (happy places) in recent memory and I had to share with my mas collaborators – one seen dancing here

when someone on social media declared it one of theirs as well: “This is incredible!! The detail on the wings alone…wow. How long did it take you to make the costumes? I’m going to look up With Grace, too. Thank you so much for sharing — I have a huge smile on my face seeing this — and now I must go to Antigua for Carnival.”

I agree.

Now, what’s up with you.

6 thoughts on “What’s Up

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