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I have successfully worked with new and experienced writers; published and unpublished writers; writers looking to break out of a rut and writers looking to make progress on a project; not to mention students, non-writers, publishers, and corporations.

But don’t take my word for it:

“Joanne’s coaching has been practical, resourceful and supportive.  The feedback she gives is amazing in the way that she makes strong suggestions while allowing me to maintain my voice. As a writing newbie, working with Joanne has been a great boost to my confidence and she challenges me to explore styles and perspective that I would never have tackled on my own.  She is also very flexible with my schedule to keep me on track.” (coaching)

“I wanted to ensure not only the document complied with all the rules of the English language, but more importantly the look and feel was friendly and ‘light’, yet at the same time educational.  Joanne helped in achieving that goal, and gave some  very useful suggestions to ensure the relevancy of the product. I particularly like the fact that she goes the extra mile.” (editing, non-fiction)

“The editing was done in a timely manner, let’s just say that this is the beginning of a new relationship.” (editing, fiction)

“I am pleased with the work you did on the manuscript. I have made good progress with my review.” (editing, memoir)

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Remember, we are living in a world with fewer boundaries and more connectivity; you don’t have to live in Antigua for me to work with you.

If you’re not ready for a manuscript review or individual coaching, but want to be in the loop re future writing and/or editing workshops, connect.

Follow the link for more (and all my services) and to contact me —>Source: Writing, Editing, Workshop/Course Facilitation, and Coaching Services

Blogger on Books IV

My take on Closure: Contemporary Black British Short Stories.

Click the link below to read but remember to comment here (on this post) if you want to comment as the Blogger on Books main page changes as I read other books.

ETA (May 24th 2017): See what I mean, it’s moved. You can also go here if you wish to comment on my review of Closure. & now at Blogger on Books lV is my review of Go de Ra*s to Sleep.

Source: Blogger on Books IV

Wadadli Stories

Reblogging because so much of my week has been tying off the loose ends from Wadadli Pen (spoiler alert: there are still a few loose threads but I’m trying to…unclench about it). Plus I had some new pictures to share, so, here goes.


I wanted to share this candid because for me it captures what Wadadli Pen is about. If you’re not familiar, Wadadli Pen (the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize) is a project I started in 2003 in response to what I felt was a lack of a nurturing environment for young writers (as I was at the time, having just published my first book The Boy from Willow Bend) within my environment. The purpose was – and remains (though the scope has broadened) – to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. We launched our Challenge (a challenge, not a competition) in 2004 – and except for a three year hiatus (2007, 2008, 2009), it’s been on every year ever since. So, yes, it’s technically a competition where we ask young people (the definition of which has changed several times over the years) to submit entries (this, too, has changed from strictly fiction to fiction and poetry, to fiction and poetry and creative non-fiction – and have we had a time trying to explain that one, to visual art now and again). In fact, the main consistency (because even the word count has changed) has been that the entries have a Caribbean aesthetic (I know, I know, what does that even mean – but what I go back to is what one judge cautioned against, i.e. anywhere, nowhere stories; and it becomes necessary to insist on this because growing up on a small island, a former colony of Britain and in the shadow of American influence, you’re exposed to so much beyond your lived reality that overshadows that lived reality so that, as one young writer confessed and as I myself experienced, when you first start writing you’re mimicking what stories are supposed to be, based on the stories you’ve been exposed to, the lives of white people, blonde blue eyed white people because your black-skinned, brown-eyed, bushy-haired self is not yet, not even in your own imagining, worthy of her own story, and that’s why #diversitymatters particularly in children’s fiction like my own With Grace, –  and while every Caribbean person is not black-skinned, brown-eyed, and bushy-haired, we come in all shades, cultures within cultures, Wadadli Pen is trying to step in to that gap and say tell the stories only you can tell, it’s not about regurgitating Caribbean clichés, and please don’t limit yourself genre wise, in fact go wild, but let what comes out come from the soil of your unique Caribbean-bred imagination, surprise us, better yet, surprise yourself). Damn, I should have typed long sidebar alert – I didn’t see it coming. But, anyway, in my mind at least, the prizes we hustle to grab for the selected winning writers, are not the point of the Challenge. Incentive, sure; reward, yes; but not the point. The point is for writers and non-writers to challenge themselves, use their voice, express themselves, and to develop their crafting of their message (for non-writers) and simply their craft (for writers). So, one of the things we do is once we’ve culled the list of entries down to a longlist of finalists, we return their entries to those few with edit notes, giving them the opportunity to revisit their story and re-submit before a final evaluation. We don’t command changes – some writers have opted not to edit their stories, and that’s their right – but we’re saying, take a second look, consider this; sort of our way of introducing them to the editing process, and also the kind of self-interrogation you do during the re-drafting phases (yes, phases, plural). So, I like this picture because the girl in the picture (2nd placed in the 13 to 17 age category) showed up at our partner bookstore to collect her prize and the guy in the picture, one of our 2017 judges, was chatting with her about one of her pieces (she submitted three). This kind of mentoring (yes, I count it as a moment of mentoring) is consistent with what Wadadli Pen is hoping to do developmentally – we don’t just want to give out prizes, we want to aid in the development of not just our young writers but our young people. So, moments like this unscripted, unplanned are priceless.

with students

This is me with two of the winning students from the 12 and younger age category. Their teacher grabbed me for a quick photo with them right after the awards and encouraged them to keep writing. The one on the left, she said (and I’m paraphrasing poorly), was into sports not writing and didn’t think she had anything to write about – well, guess what, she wrote about her favourite sport and earned second place in her category. Will she write more? I don’t know. But hopefully she’s learned that she does have something to say. Also, this picture amuses me as by this point in the evening I’d been wearing the mask and the pirate hat (both from old Carnival J’ouvert costumes) all day and didn’t even remember I had them on – not that I would have taken them off to take the picture…if you’re going to dress up, you’ve got to commit! p.s. the earrings are by Saadie Christian, at Earthly Instincts in the craft market, in St. John’s City, Antigua. She does good work. Check her out.

Floree with Kaeiron2

This is the overall winner (on the right) – it hit me this week that as a 23-year-old teacher, she would have been 10 years old when Wadadli Pen launched. Seriously, wtf!!? Have we been doing that this long? Crazy. If I’ve said it once…if only I’d known what I was getting myself in to when I said, let me do this thing. Still, no regrets. Well, one regret, I regret the forever absence of one of the people who was there with me at the beginning. I remember that first year just the two of us (and my infant niece) trying to get the awards space ready even as people were coming up the stairs expecting us to have our sh*t together. In those early years, she did everything I didn’t do – except for judging – and she was also my ear to bitch to and my shoulder to cry on (actually, scratch that, she probably would have laughed her belly full if I tried to cry on her shoulder, but she was such a pillar to me in those years that her calling time out on her involvement was just as much a reason for our hiatus as the burnout I was feeling). Well, she died in 2015 (and two years later I’m still trying to make sense of that because she was my age and my sista-sister-sister-friend and I wasn’t ready). Re-naming the Challenge plaque in her honour in 2016 was a small gesture toward honouring her contribution to Wadadli Pen but also memorializing her life. So, whenever I see pictures of it, like this one, I think of her.

Untitled This one I wanted to share (though it’s not the best picture) because of the folks in it. The girl on the right won the 12 and younger age category and placed third overall, and the chief judge legit had to check with me to make sure her entry was written by an 11-year-old – but I’m most impressed with how she’s grown with the Challenge, placing a little higher in the finals each time since first submitting in 2014. And speaking of young people growing with the programme, the young lady on the left (co-hosting the awards) is a college student who, in the midst of exams and all that, served as our first ever intern assisting with media and admin tasks and picking up some new skills along the way. She is also one of our past finalists, having first submitted to Wadadli Pen in 2012.

Group photo Had to put in a group shot – this is what makes it worth it. Go here, please, to see some more pictures and other Wadadli Pen stuff; read the stories, please, and show these young writers some love.

So, this has been my week. I’ve done very little reading (inching closer to the end of Closure – ETA FINISHED! Click to read my review –  and the middle of All the Joy You Can Stand)  and took some time from reading, work (my adult education class, client projects), writing (okay, so I wrote one story but in my defense it’s one story more than I’ve written in too long), and Wadadli Pen yesterday to go searching for mangoes (because my own tree nar gwaan wid nutten). No luck. Hashtag sadface.

Linking to Sunday Salon, Sunday Post, and Mailbox Monday and I will say that while I haven’t started any new books or acquired any new books, my wish list continues to grow, so thanks Repeating Islands (for mentioning David Layton’s The Dictator) *shakes fist at Repeating Islands*. In book-ish news, I’ll mention that if you’re in New York or nearby, I shared an upcoming lit event that you might be interested in on my other blog – Word! Also, as a fan of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea (which is by Caribbean writer Jean Rhys and tells the story of the wife in the attic), I couldn’t resist sharing on the blog this review of Mr. Rochester. Not a flattering review but I appreciated the discourse. What else, I watched the last two eps of this season of Supernatural – I didn’t hate it (this season having somewhat redeemed the show from epic rants of Supernatural past); and I watched the first ep of Legends of Tomorrow – which I kind of did (hate); and tonight is American Gods – which I’m really kind of liking.


I am tired today, and as the week-ahead and its many demands loom, I kind of just want to pause the world for a while. Unfortunately, that’s not my superpower. So, I’ll just lie here a while longer and reflect on the yesterday that was. The book/lit nerd in me is very happy. Wadadli Pen came to an end (mostly, there are still some loose ends and, ugh, I HATE that but so it is) and the Wadadli Stories Book Fair was the bomb. Here are some visual highlights:

18450249_10154295929136148_316219101_n How committed was I  to my pseudo-pirate get-up? It was hot as a summumma and I was in all black. No the book I’m holding, my children’s picture book, With Grace isn’t about pirates…but I don’t have my tree faerie costume yet *wink*

At Wadadli Stories 3 Forming de fool as we say here ’bout. #WithGrace

At Wadadli Stories 6 Okay, one proper one, with my flag in the…

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The Antiguan

Hard work. Little reward. Grasp the ones that come up behind you firmly, then nudge them a little further down the road than you were able to go. Story of the life of many working class (black) Antiguans; not just my parents.

But let me talk of my parents for a minute. I saw them work hard to make way and “cut and contrive” as we say to make ends meet. They (both, but I have to say my mother here especially for reasons very personal to her) prioritized education because they believed that that would open doors for us that they couldn’t, even if it meant they couldn’t go through those doors with us. My siblings and I, we took in the lessons, we studied hard, and today we work hard, and we try to build something that the next generation can stand on, and try to push them a little further down the road even if it means we won’t be able to go there with them. And so when I think of my parents, my siblings, and myself, and many other people I grew up knowing in Ottos, Antigua, people who still inspire a certain kind of rooted and hard working Antiguan ethic that pops up in my literary works, it bugs me to hear (or read) as the case may be, that Antiguans (black Antiguans, say what you mean) want easy money and/or don’t want to work. Because while the rising crime rate certainly suggests that there are those among us – local and imported – who fit that profile, it is not the profile of every Antiguan – and many hard working Antiguans are just as disturbed and turned off by the bad behaviour of louts and criminals. We question how certain things have come to pass, we mourn the soul of our country, we do what we can to change the story through our work, through our activism, through our volunteering, through our contributions to the public discourse, through  the messages we pass on by our word and example to the young people (biologically our own or not) who we mentor. In fact, any one who wants to question the work ethic (and enterprising spirit) of the Antiguan needs to read To Shoot Hard Labour and Journeycakes first, read about where we come from and who we are, then come talk.

Tanty in The Boy from Willow Bend cared for children who weren’t her own and sucked salt to make sure that they didn’t have to; Mama Vi in Oh Gad! didn’t know anything but hard work and made the ultimate sacrifice of sending her youngest daughter away from her so that she would know something different, knowing that it would mean losing her; her daughter Audrey, her daughter Nikki, and her son Fanso are all entrepreneurs in their way; Pappy in Musical Youth drives a taxi every day well in to retirement and mentors his grandson.

The Boy from Willow Bend - COVER.p65Oh Gad covermusical_youth_nov1-e1415925946338

These people come from my imagination but they are not plucked from thin air. They are my reminder to whomever would use the worst of us to define all of us – the worst of any group (but especially any group that has had to fight to overcome physical realities meant to break their backs and their spirit, and stereotypes) to define the whole, when at our core we are the offspring of people who worked hard to reclaim their humanity and rebuild themselves, to build us in to smaddy.

Do we need to look at the ways our society is becoming unfamiliar to us and pull it back; hell, yes. A great many of us know that; and we do as much as we can, while continuing to work hard in a world where (economic and political independence and empowerment remain works in progress and) for us nothing has never, ever, never ever ever come easy.

Wadadli Stories

I am tired today, and as the week-ahead and its many demands loom, I kind of just want to pause the world for a while. Unfortunately, that’s not my superpower. So, I’ll just lie here a while longer and reflect on the yesterday that was. The book/lit nerd in me is very happy. Wadadli Pen came to an end (mostly, there are still some loose ends and, ugh, I HATE that but so it is) and the Wadadli Stories Book Fair was the bomb. Here are some visual highlights:


How committed was I  to my pseudo-pirate get-up? It was hot as a summumma and I was in all black. No the book I’m holding, my children’s picture book, With Grace isn’t about pirates…but I don’t have my tree faerie costume yet *wink*

At Wadadli Stories 3

Forming de fool as we say here ’bout. #WithGrace


At Wadadli Stories 6

Okay, one proper one, with my flag in the background.

Okay, enough of that. Wadadli Stories was a book fair organized as a community event by a team of volunteers and contributors, corporate and private/individual. It included readings, reading testing, spelling bees, panels on writing, cosplay, erotica, and more.

cushion club at wadadli stories

The Cushion Club, a project I’ve volunteered with (and a patron of my other major volunteer project, Wadadli Pen) was there to read to the kids in the person of our long time chief, Cedric.



Do you recognize any of your favourite comic characters? They came to play.


This tent used the event to give a visual history of Antiguan mas and to promote in particular the skellihoppers, who will be on the road this Carnival (late July-early August), our 60th anniversary of Carnival, during the opening parade and J’ouvert. The lady in the middle, meanwhile, is wearing a headwrap and trimming made of the madras that makes up our national dress. #local


Just some of the books on display including new author Claytine Nisbett’s Life as Josephine and my books Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, Oh Gad!, and With Grace. All available online by the way, so though you couldn’t be here with us, you can still get these and other Antiguan and Barbudan books wherever you’re reading this from.

I was busy much of the day with readings and sessions, and in the evening with the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize 2017 Challenge Awards Ceremony. Obviously, that was my highlight – it’s a project I started in 2004 to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, and, in spite of the challenges, I am happy to say that it is not only still here but continues to grow.


2017 Challenge winners – prizes are across three age groups 12 and younger, 13 to 17, and 18 to 35, and then the top three. The person in the middle holding the Alstyne Allen Memorial Challenge plaque, sponsored by the Best of Books, is this year’s winner.

For more images from the Wadadli Stories book fair, check the the Best of Books on facebook. For the full breakdown of the 2017 Wadadli Pen Challenge results – who won what and to read the winning pieces, go to the Wadadli Pen blog (well, as I write this, everything isn’t yet uploaded but some of the stories are and more will be throughout the day or maybe the next couple of days; so check back::reasons for the delay? See opening lines of this blog).

This is my Sunday post. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.