Another One of Those Round-up-y Posts

Promos

I received copies of the hard cover editions of my books Musical Youth and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and of the second edition of the former. So I did a giveaway on my facebook page to celebrate – shout out to winners Tiff Tyf, Sam Sam, and Merle Harris-Odlum. I did the announcement via my first facebook live which you can find on the page (click the screen capture for the link).

Also I was recently spotlighted at Ravishly.com in an interview discussing my book Musical Youth.

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On Being Read at Your Alma Mater

(me, with other 89ers)

Recently, I stopped by my secondary school alma mater and someone commented casually that my book Musical Youth is taught in the third form there (I know it’s on the national schools’ reading list but I somehow hadn’t considered that there were any more copies at the school than the ones I’d gifted to the library a handful of years ago when I was recruited to narrate the annual carol service). I was further informed that my first book The Boy from Willow Bend was (or had been) studied there as well (I know it’s on the national schools’ reading list but…). Since that day I’ve kind of fantasized a picture of me and the students all in our beige jumpers brandishing copies of Musical Youth and The Boy from Willow Bend. Short of that, when life unclouds (though I’ve had to cut way back on unfunded school visits) I may reach out to visit with the students reading my book in the same classrooms where I once read V. S. Naipaul’s House for Mr. Biswas, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Selvon, and Hardy, and Shakespeare. I just need a sponsor and a beige jumper.

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New article in APANA

APANA is a new Caribbean publication focused on sustainable development and social engagement. In the article I talk about the two major non-profits I’ve been involved with thanks to my passions for reading, writing, and creative expression.

Read the full issue here or visit their website.

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New or Updated Posts (In case You missed it), Plus Books I’m Reading

CREATIVE SPACE 14 – About a fresh staging of The Vagina Monologues in Antigua and Barbuda – has replaced CREATIVE SPACE 13 – Fashioning a Hit! Spotlight – Nicoya Henry which has been archived. For previous editions see CREATIVE SPACE 2018 an 2019. Some Blogger on Books updates via Quick Takes of two Scoular Anderson Big Cat books.

                Speaking of Books I’m reading, that’s expanded to a scary degree. I’ve recently received (and started reading) Another Mother by Ross Kenneth Urken and Death on the Danube by Jennifer S. Alderson and recently received (but haven’t started reading) Fireburn and Transfer by Apple Gidley. Of previously read books, I’ve updated my review of Inner City Girl (a Burt pick out of Jamaica), Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy which I found myself thinking about again after the section on female genital mutilation in The Vagina Monologues (Possessing goes in to excrutiating detail about this practice). Of the others, I’ve been actively reading (this past week or so) Marie Ohanesian Nardin’s Beneath Lion’s Wings which I received from the author some time ago, Greyborn Rising by Derry Sandy, a publisher arc I’m really enjoying but don’t have nearly enough time to read, and especially (finally!) Mary Robinette Kowal Antigua-set Of Noble Family (the last of the books I own in the Glamourist series and the one I worked on). I’m also listening to the audio book of Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage. Oh and I’m crocheting again for the first time since my grandmother taught me and my sister as children – I’m doing it mostly for anxiety relief but it is taking shape.

Also re updates and new posts, see my top Marvel films (and share yours), my updated media page, and  More November pics as well for some final Sharjah images (after my Scenes from Sharjah post) and pics of my long ago early mentor, famed Caribbean writer Olive Senior.


(Senior with my books The Boy from Willow Bend,  Musical Youth, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure)

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About the Golden Globes

Hm. They were announced on the day that I’m typing this and I have been known to write about films and awards here, but I may be too upset to be coherent just yet. LIke how the *&^&**^%U(^ does When They See Us get no nominations, none taaaarl. Make it make sense. I’m not going to do a breakdown. I don’t care. I won’t be watching. You can read my review of the Ava DuVernay mini-series here (it’s the best mini-series of the year as a work of art and as something that’s both classic and timely, and one of the few films I felt compelled to do a solo post about this year) though obviously not the only film or series I saw and liked (though honestly when it comes to series especially I’m behind on everything – so, no Watchmen spoilers). Two movies or series I did see were  Unbelievable and Dolemite is My Name on Netflix.  Both were great and I’m happy to see them in the awards conversation. Speaking of the awards conversation, it’s been dominated by The Irishman which… I think is overrated (OMG the hyperbole!…look, it was alright…it was alright) and the CGI’d de-aging was distracting. I am okay with the two acting noms especially Pacino who embodied Hoffa and good to see Joe Pesci again. I tried watching Once Upon a Time, the Tarantino film, and didn’t get through it. And I have liked films by Scorcese (e.g. Taxi Driver, The Departed) and Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds, Django Uchained) in the past. Talking movies, I also watched American Son which felt a bit plodding in its execution but still landed its gut punch at the end, and a film about colourism called The Wedding (an old film based on an older book) starring Halle Berry who is also in this year’s John Wick 3  which I watched in recent weeks (don’t judge me, I am part of the #foreverKeanu crowd). Speaking of Keanu and the Globes, “I punched Keanu in the Face’ sung by Randall Park at the end of Always Be My Maybe should’ve been nominated for best song.

Right?

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Music

What other music can I share with you? How about No Name? Tyler the Creator? both?

I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately because when it hits me I feel no pain (it’s great for anxiety) and because I’m trying to get caught up on all the Grammy nominees (you know, what the kids are listening to) – funny story, I asked my niece about some of them after listening (because we both love music, you know). Every Grammy nominated name I called, with the exception of Lizzo, she’d never heard of them, and started dropping names that the Grammys isn’t checking for… maybe she’d be as upset about the Grammys as I am about the Golden Globes. Anyway, I’ll leave my thoughts on the Grammy nominees for another day and until then, try to stay on my two feet. You too.

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Finally

Recent projects include a book edit and some athlete profiles. Thanks to Belizean author (Pengereng) Ivory Kelly for a recent shout out on her blog re my editing services – “I highly recommend a professional editor such as Joanne Hillhouse (jhohadli.wordpress.com/writing-editing-coaching-services/) or Virginia Hampton (hampton.virginia19@gmail.com) who have provided excellent service to me and other writers in Belize and abroad” – in a post on publishing.

Anyone needing my services, contact me via the link.

More November Pics

What is this post? I’m just clearing out some pics, I guess, and since they’re all pretty much related to #TheWritingLife, this seems a good place to share them.

These are from some time spent hanging with Olive Senior, award winning Jamaican writer and my first workshop leader, and local writer/book industry colleague and friend Barbara Arrindell. It was a fun lime, and fun to get to know Olive better on a personal level, and show her a bit of my island. In these photos we are at Fort James, Antigua – it’s one of the forts built with the labour of enslaved people from Africa to protect the interests of European powers (in our case the English against the Spanish and the French) in the West Indies/Caribbean in colonial times. It’s also the site of one of our more popular beaches.

This is a screen grab from video posted by Trinidad and Tobago author Lisa Allen-Agostini to her Instagram of her reading my book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure at a local school. So cool when writers share the love.  So let me share some back: go read Lisa’s Home Home if you haven’t already; the link is to my blogged review of it and I am not surprised that it’s landed a US edition due for release in 2020.

These are from the Alliougana Book Fest in Montserrat. Fun fact about Montserrat – it is a Caribbean island and British dependency which has a deep Irish influence and is the only country outside of Ireland where St. Patrick’s Day is a National Holiday. This is a testimony to Irish influence (notwithstanding it being made up primarily of people of African descent) on the island but also commemorates a 1768 anti-slavery uprising planned for St. Patrick’s Day. When Barbara, above,  took the ferry over to Montserrat for the festival, she sent me this pic. It made my day (it was after this that we arranged the lime with Olive when she was in transit in Antigua en route back to Canada where she lives). Olive is an esteemed Caribbean writer, Commonwealth book award winning author of Arrival of the Snake Woman and Other Stories, Summer Lightning and Other Stories, Birthday Suit, Dancing Lessons, Anna Carries Water, The Pain Tree, The Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage, Boonoonoonous Hair, Discerner of Hearts and Other Stories, Dying to Better Themselves: West Indians and the Building of the Panama Canal, Gardening in the Tropics, and other books. She is instrumental in me becoming the writer that I am. I did my first writing workshop (the Caribbean Fiction Writers Summer Institute) with her at the University of Miami and it was at that workshop that I started working on The Boy from Willow Bend (one of the books she is holding). These photos and especially the one where she’s holding The Boy from Willow Bend were a full circle moment for me. Other books of mine pictured are Musical Youth, Lost!  A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe.

These are from Sharjah – location is the lobby of the Sheraton with Margaret Busby (editor) and Yvonne Bailey-Smith (contributor), both from New Daughters of Africa, and their dinner companions; and a stairway at the Sheraton with the same group.

These are media engagements in Sharjah – one print-related, one TV (an Africa station, I believe) –

TBR Name Tag

Today’s just-for-fun post is my name in TBR books which I got hipped to over at Nicole @ BookWyrmKnits who used her avatar name Bookwyrm. To shake things up a bit I’ll use my full author name and I’m going to go deep cuts on this one (I won’t be mentioning any book I’ve mentioned before or any book I already have in my possession – rather those books I want to read but which seem so far away who knows if I’ll ever get to them). One unanticipated upside, I culled said TBR in the process because sometimes a book can be on there so long you lose interest in it, and that’s okay (life is short).

J-O-A-N-N-E–C–H-I-L-L-H-O-U-S-E

Jonestown by Wilson Harris

On Sal Mal Lane by Ru Freeman

Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks

Never far from Nowhere by Andrea Levy

Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie

Exploring Shadeism by Sharon Hurley Hall

Catch and Release by Ronan Farrow

How Long Til Black Future Month?: Stores by N. K. Jemisin

Intruders: Short Stories by Mohale Mashigo

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingslover

The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesy

One Day I will write about This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina

Untamed by Madeline Dyer

Doe Songs by Danielle Boodoo Fortune

Everyone knows I am a Haunting by Shivanee Ramlochan

 

Yeah, I know I cheated a little bit but *Kanye shrug*

I don’t have time to dig up all the covers, but real quick, why I chose them – Jonestown because it’s a crime that I haven’t read any Wilson Harris – the late Guyanese writer is one of the more experimental Caribbean writers and the Jim Jones saga remains dreadfully fascinating; On Sal Mal Lane because Ru has a strong and bold voice in the non-fiction I’ve read and she was cool when I met her, this one has been on my TBR for a while and either this or her other novel are overdue for a read; bell hooks is one of those activist-writers I should have read already and I love that the title references Sojourner Truth’s famous speech; Andrea Levy is a great one recently lost from the Caribbean, specifically British Caribbean literary canon, another one I’m past-due to read; Nudibranch, I like speculative fiction, and this one seems interesting, and, given my current attention span, short stories holds particular appeal for me; Intruders is on this list for the same reason – and both are out of Africa; and the Jemisin book, speculative, the author is African-American – and I’m still keen to read her novel trilogy; exploring shadeism – shadeism or colourism is an area of interest for me if Musical Youth didn’t give that away – and so many of us remain frustratingly in denial about it; Catch and Release is #MeToo related and digs in to the behind-the-scenes of breaking the story that (with Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s reporting and their own book She Said) changed the game – I was interested even before I knew these books were being written (these are right in my wheelhouse); Little Fires was firing up the blogosphere not so long ago – I don’t even remember what it’s about but I remember it; I don’t remember how The Lacuna got on my list but it is an Orange prize winner, so I’m keeping it there; The House on Fortune Street because Margot Livesy is one of those writers I’ve been meaning to read since I ‘discovered’ her during my time at Breadloaf; One Day and Untamed – I was mostly relieved to find titles starting with those vowels on my TBR – I don’t remember enough about how they got there to know why I wanted to read them in the first place but the Untamed synopsis is tempting and the One Day title intriguing; Doe Songs is by one of my favourite Caribbean writer people and illustrator of one of my books ; and Shivanee too falls in to that category of Caribbean writer people I’ve met in real life whose writing I’ve found to be quite potent and unpredictable – plus I love the title.

Whew! Every time I think one of these tags is going to be quick and easy, I’m proven wrong.

Jordin Sparks’s Husband Caught Hell From Everyone But His Wife Over A Close Photo With His Female Friend — MadameNoire

I’m Team Jordin on this one. I have no problem with a SO having a close friend of the opposite sex… friends with benefits is another story altogether (lol).

Source: Bruce Glikas / Getty Are you comfortable with your partner having a best or close friend of the opposite sex? If not, what is that about? Singer and actress Jordin Sparks is trying to figure that out after her husband, Dana Isaiah Thomas, received some surprising flack for a photo he shared of himself…

via Jordin Sparks’s Husband Caught Hell From Everyone But His Wife Over A Close Photo With His Female Friend — MadameNoire

Scenes from Sharjah

ETA: Sharing via the Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Post, which is about the week that was and all things books.

In November 2019, I travelled to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates as an invited author to the Sharjah International Book Fair (which, btw, now has the Guinness record for largest simultaneous book signing – an activity so crowded I had to squeeze through it to get to my second panel). The SIBF is huge by the way – more than 170 programmed/guest authors, from almost 70 Arab and non-Arab countries over 11 days (only some of which I was there for). Though it’s impossible to capture everything I tasted, heard, saw etc., I shared a lot of the journey on social media (my instagram and facebook) in real time; plus there was some media there and here at home (see my media page for some of it) – and a lot of re-shares and likes and such (all deeply, deeply, deeply appreciated). But I still have to do something for the blog (because, obviously); #sorrynotsorry (lol) to anyone who’s over it already. I am a #gyalfromOttosAntigua and this is the farthest I’ve been from home; it is an example of the writing journey taking me somewhere I never expected to land (there’ve been a few such times) at imperfect times in my life. This time was no exception. I embrace all of it.

What got me there

Well, Emirates Air (lol)

and this book (New Daughters of Africa)

I was invited to be a part of the panel centering the 2019 publication New Daughters of Africa. The publication includes over 200 women writers from the motherland and the diaspora. I feel blessed to be a part of it and, because of it (shout out Myriad publishers) to have had the opportunity to be a part of this.

This is a gallery of some of my Sharjah tripping.

School visits

Gulf Model School in Dubai.


500 6 and 7 year olds… but thankfully some teachers there to help.


I introduced the students to one of my picture books, Lost!  A Caribbean Sea Adventure.

Look forward to being on their Book-o-Gram one day and to a review of my books being hung among other student reviews in the school library.


While I’ve read Anansi stories at schools in Antigua (my go-to before I’d written my own children’s picture books), this school visit was my first attempt – EVER – at telling an Anansi story.


A gift from the principal (Dr. S. Reshma) who is herself an author.

Panels

I had two.


The first panel (with Noura Al Noman, “the first celebrated Emirati science fiction writer”) with its focus on reading patterns among young people, and also use of national versus universal language in storytelling, among other things, was picked up on several news platforms. Shout out to moderator of the panel above Dr. Lamya Tawfik and moderator of the panel below Mr. Abdul Karim – thanks to them both for steering the conversation in interesting directions.

The second panel (with NDOA editor Margaret Busby and contributor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey). Clearly we had a good time.

Book signing


This woman told me she is an aspiring writer while I signed copies of Lost!, Musical Youth, and NDOA.

Social interactions


Grabbing some dinner at the Sheraton, after my first panel with New Daughters editor Margaret Busby,  contributor Yvonne Bailey Smith (Zadie Smith’s mom), and her friend.


I had several escorts to make sure I was where I needed to be; this young lady, Roaa, is originally from Syria and she came along with me for my school visit. Shout out as well to my escorts at the Fair location (Zayna, Mamu, and others); and to the help desk and others at the hotel who tried to keep me pointed in the right direction.


With African-American author (w/Barbadian roots) Bernice McFadden in the desert. We first met (and clicked) in 2016 in Barbados where we were both guests of the BIM Lit Fest and co-facilitators of a workshop – so I guess technically we first met via email when I wrote, so how do you want to do this? We ran in to each other again in 2018 at the Miami Book Fair where we both had sessions. I’ve blogged a couple of her books (Sugar, Glorious) btw if you want to check her out – I know I’m eager to read more (Book of Harlan and Praisesong for the Butterflies especially).

Some Sharjah scenes

-on the road-


took these while driving, walking, or simply sitting; that last one is the hotel I stayed at.

-at a museum-


Illustrating what pre-historic people in that part of the world knew about animal/horse anatomy.


Pottery. Always an area of interest for me given my family history (see Oh Gad!).

Spotted these signs in most buildings including the Museum.

-in the desert-
One of our social outings was to Mleiha. In fact some of the museum images above are actually the Mleiha Archeological Centre which we visited before taking a safari in to the desert for sunset, stargazing, and a barbeque dinner. I saw camels, sand, so much sand…and Jupiter.


at sunset.

Twas fun


Strike a pose.

Plus, keepsakes

Bonus!video

Festivals or other platforms at which I’ve been invited to and had the opportunity to represent myself and Antigua and Barbuda literary arts have to date included Wadadli Stories, the National Literacy Festival, Independence (including one-time the A&B Independence celebrations in Canada), and the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival (among other community organized literary activities right here at home), the United States Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair, the Bocas Literary Festival (in Trinidad and Tobago), the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars conference (in Suriname), the opening of Greenlands Books and Things (in St. Kitts & Nevis), the St. Martin Book Fair (in Sint Maarten and Saint Martin), the Anguilla Lit Fest, the PEN World Voices Festival Literary Safari (in New York), the Miami Book Fair, the Caribbean Congress of Writers (in Guadeloupe), the Friends of Antigua Public Library Author in Residence series (in New York), the Nature Island Literary Festival (in Dominica), the BIM Literary Festival and Book Fair and the BIM Arts for the 21st Century Writers Symposium (in Barbados), the Brooklyn Book Fair, Aye Write! Festival (in Scotland) – plus readings that came out of workshops I participated in in Rhode Island, Barbados, Vermont, and Guyana. To this list I now add Sharjah. This writing life has been and remains bumpy but there are interesting stops on the journey; and I am grateful.

-by Joanne C. Hillhouse. If you haven’t checked any of my books as yet, I hope you do. If you have read my books, please consider posting a review here, at online retailers, or on book review sites like (but not exclusive to) Goodreads.  Thanks! Also, as needed, be sure to check out my writing and editing services.

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 —