The Best Advice I Can Offer

This is the text almost verbatim sent to a writer who contacted me blind from several continents away re getting their book published. Given the distance, and some combo of my experience and my own limitations, this was the best advice I could offer. It might prove useful to others.

*

Make sure the manuscript is in the best shape possible, research agents and/or publishers who handle material like yours (e.g. look for comparable publications and see who has represented and published them, visit their websites, review their submission guidelines, and submit, and, if you believe in your work, keep submitting). Don’t rule out independents in your geographic area as that’s a way to get your work in to print and does not necessarily preclude you getting published internationally later on – plus the artist development tends to be more hands on (though the resources are less). I don’t have any other formula – though, obviously, self-publishing is also an option. [This wasn’t in the email but I’ll add that I still come across submission guidelines for writer opportunities – literary awards, residencies, fellowships, festival invites, critical reviews that can help place your published work in the literary canon – that do not consider self-published, vanity, or hybrid published works as published. So while there are more and cheaper paths than ever to self-publishing, and many great and successful self-published works, many reasons why either path is a legitimate one in its own right, there are still quite a few barriers; so when considering your path to publication, it’s worth it to consider your publishing goals.] (If self-publishing), you will need your own money to cover the cost of every stage of the publishing process including pre-press (editing, design and layout, cover art etc.) to marketing and distribution. You will need to have your manuscript professionally edited and do your research re the right platform for the roll-out – I provide editing services if this is something you wish to discuss commissioning.

I’m copying below some links to resources for writers that I have posted online [at the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize platform]:

Resources [which includes information on how authors get paid for appearances and the like, copyright information, tips for freelance writers, book publishing information, information on publishing in journals and anthologies, promotion information for authors, writing, and xtras for the stuff that doesn’t fit in any of the other categories]

Opportunities [which links to deadlines related to opportunities for artistes, i.e. opportunities with pending deadlines, Opportunities Too, as sometimes contests can be a route to publication and some published or award winning short stories have been known to go on to get published (see my own Musical Youth ), also some that were submitted, didn’t win, but caught someone’s eye anyway – e.g. The Boy from Willow Bend and ‘Amelia at Devil’s Bridge’ published in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean. Some short stories have even become feature films as my agent reminded me when we discussed the rights I was being asked to give up for inclusion of one of my short stories in a particular anthology. The Opportunities post primarily though gives a rundown of ongoing and recurring opportunities to submit to contests and awards, markets, programmes, publishers, ways to seek project funding and opportunities to pay it forward by supporting another writer’s journey]

[Let me also add these guidelines for not just getting published but building a career as a writer by award winning Trinbagonian author K. Jared Hosein and me (Antiguan-Barbudan author Joanne C. Hillhouse)]

That’s the best advice I can offer.

*

And these are my books

 

Archie — Deadline

That’s Prince Archie the First to you. LOL. Respect the hustle.

EXCLUSIVE: When happens when news of Prince Archie’s birth in England finally reaches All-American teen Archie Andrews? No surprise, Andrews quickly becomes the red-headed royal pain of Riverdale High. That’s the plot of “Name Fame,” a five-page story in Archie Jumbo Comics Digest issue no. 302 that playfully reacts to the royal newborn who shares both the…

via Archie — Deadline

Judith Krantz Dies: Best-Selling Author And Journalist Was 91 Years Old — Deadline

I don’t remember the plot points but I remember reading I’ll Take Manhattan (probably others) back in the day. I remember the mini-series on TV starring Valerie Bertinelli. I remember there was one for Princess Daisy as well. Most of the books I got back then – the teen years, the 80s – were borrowed from friends or left behind by guests at the hotels where my parents worked (so my reading tastes were at least in part influenced by the beach reads of tourists on their Caribbean vacation) – a flurry of Sydney Sheldon, Jackie Collins, Danielle Steele, Harold Robbins, Colleen McCullough, and more romances and thick dramas than I can remember, and in the midst, the glitz and glamour of the Judith Krantz experience. My reading tastes have changed and I haven’t thought of  that reading time in years. Sure they were kind of soapy (I was, also, very into the actual Soaps back then) but they brought me much reading pleasure back in the day. And that’s a book’s first job.
RIP, Ms. Krantz.

Judith Krantz, whose novels have more than 80 million copies in print, has died. She passed away from natural causes on June 22 in her Bel Air, California home at age 91. Krantz was born Judith Tarcher on January 9, 1928 in New York City, the eldest child of an advertising executive and an attorney.…

via Judith Krantz Dies: Best-Selling Author And Journalist Was 91 Years Old — Deadline

Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2019

I’m doing it.

As long as there’s interest and I have had some expressions of interest which hopefully will turn in to actual registrations.

I’m working out the details but I’m looking at one week long session in July and another in August. One of the things I’m working out is budget, ergo fees, while simultaneously reaching out to prospective sponsors so that I can keep the fees as low as possible and hopefully offer some scholarships as I did in the first year of the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project (2013).

The JSYWP prioritizes exploration and expression, as much as education and growth – I want participants to have fun (this isn’t school!)

Anyway, there’s still time to send an expression of interest (whether to participate or to sponsor/support) – email me at jhohadli at gmail dot com

Shout out to Antiguanice.com (which as readers of the blog know syndicates my CREATIVE SPACE series on their platform) for sharing. For more on the Jhohadli Writing Project as a whole, go here.

When They See Us (A Response)

This post, which I’m calling a response, not a review, because it’s not, is about the Ava DuVernay Netflix mini-series When They See Us.

whentheyseeus3.jpg
(Marquis Rodriguez as young Raymond Santana learning his fate in When they see Us)

As a Black person, even being African/Black Caribbean not African American, there is certain content you have to steel yourself to take in. 12 Years a Slave was one of those for me – I had to work my way up to watching it and it sit in my spirit for a long time after (particularly the character played by Lupita Nyongo, her experience during the course of the film and the life you imagine for her after the main character steps back in to his life leaving her and others like her behind, in bondage).

As a Black person, I have a love-hate relationship with these tales of black misery which seem to be the only type of story of Blackness Hollywood wants to tell. I love that the truth is being ventilated, I hate that already traumatized people (by which I mean Black people – several of whom I know can’t even watch these films) are being re-traumatized. Plus too often Hollywood Green Books it.

But having ridden a wave of bewilderment, anger, and… just tears and tears and tears, while watching When They See Us, I do hope all people will see it.

When-They-See-Us
(four of the five incarcerated boys in When They See Us)

The story Ava tells of the five Black and Latino boys (literally boys, 14-16) incarcerated for years after being branded the Central Park Five for the brutal 1989 rape of a white female jogger needs to be known – and the villains of the tale need to be outed. In the latter category are, by my count, the person who actually perpetrated the vicious assault; the media with its usual rush to judgment; the current president of the US who before there was a single conviction took out a full page ad calling for the death penalty for the boys (something for which he has still not apologized notwithstanding that they were fully exonerated thanks to a confession and DNA evidence, and subsequently received a settlement from New York City); the police who leaned on the boys with violence and intimidation for more than a day without food, bathroom breaks, legal counsel, or even their parents present (not in an accidental way but deliberately); all but one of the prison guards (one of the most vicious a Black man) who went out of their way to make life hell for Korey, the one boy sent to adult prison; but especially the prosecutors – Linda Fairstein (who has since become a bestselling author of crime fiction I’ll never read) and Elizabeth Lederer (reportedly a law professor), not for doing their jobs (which would have been fair) but for not being fair in so doing. They knew the ‘confessions’ were coerced out of boys who were confused, didn’t understand their rights, and just wanted to go home; they knew the physical evidence didn’t hold up and that the ‘confessions’ contradicted the facts of the case e.g. re where the jogger was attacked. They didn’t care – some still don’t.

images

We often talk of the system (when it comes to race) – I do it too – but sometimes we forget that people work within those systems who either through their own agendas, latent racism, or just failure to see the cases that come before them as people, represent the worst of the system – a system that is acknowledged to incarcerate Black and Brown people at a higher rate (see DuVernay’s Oscar nominated Netflix documentary, The 13th).

These boys are victims of that system. #fact

niecy
(harrowing prison visit involving Niecy Nash, the mother, and Jharrel Jerome, the son)

But they are also complex, flawed, human survivors of that system. The story Ava tells doesn’t begin and end with their identity as the Central Park Five. She shows their familial relationships, their dreams, their loves, their stumbles…and especially, heartbreakingly, their youth. This film is well cast – there is no other way to see the boys we meet in the first episode than as boys, boys  the age of the boys in my own family. The pain these families go through, lacking the resources to properly help their boys is palpable. These families are not perfect, nor are they carbon copies of each other – not economically, not in how they respond, nor in the support they are able to offer while their boys (one of whom was incarcerated in adult prisons where he was routinely abused, when he wasn’t going crazy in solitary) are locked up. And when they get out, because getting out, the series reminds us, is a trial in itself, especially when you’re required to register as a sex offender.
Screenshot-2019-05-30-at-07_13_34
(one of the boys, grown, trying to move on in a scene from episode 3)

The easiest episode for me emotionally was episode three wherein I actually found myself laughing at some of the lighter bits – like the sister who tells her brother about a new beau on a family visit as a way of encouraging him to find his own hope, his own something to look forward to.  There are periods in that episode of the four boys who went to juvie trying and flailing (sic) to catch their lives when they get out. There is love but there is also hate and lack of understanding or compassion even in their own families. Notably absent from this episode is Korey Wise, the boy who went to adult prison and there is reason for that as the final episode, episode 4 – the hardest episode to watch – is entirely his story.

Jharrel-Jerome-plays-Korey-Wise-in-When-They-See-Us-1896289
Thing is he was the most innocent if there’s such a thing. He went to the precinct to support his friend who was hauled in by the police, and for his efforts got a confession beaten out of him, and was perhaps more confused than anyone as the system worked him. He was completely abandoned except by the apparitions he conjured in his mind, like his high school girl friend (with whom he fantasizes a different outcome and has a perfect fantasy date – in his mind), and his trans sister, another outcast, murdered while he was in prison. What this boy goes through doesn’t seem real and yet we know it is.
If I have one criticism of this film, it’s that it’s too real. But that’s necessary – and the way it’s shot unflinchingly capturing the boys’ emotions as their world shifts around them, without pausing to explaining itself to them, the moments it takes to remind us that they are just boys – capturing their innocence in very poignant ways is … beautiful. A heartbreaking beauty but beautiful nonetheless.

dims.jpg
(the film touches on the impact on families and community of the incarcerated)

Kudos, Ava (you got the characterization right, the era, the music, the flat tops, the tone, the pacing, the story beats, the mood, you got all of us with any heart out here in our feelings). I actually wish this film could be in Oscar contention though I understand why it worked better as a mini-series where it could be unrushed in telling its five stories. But short of that I call Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG nominations for several of the actors but especially Jharrel Jerome who played Korey Wise, the boy who took the brunt of the punishment, the actor who convincingly played him as both a boy and a young man while the others had two actors for these two phases of life.

WTSU_102_Unit_00544R-1-46d70e8.jpg
(Kaleel Harris as Antron McCray with his legal aid lawyer played by Joshua Jackson)

And I urge you to watch this series, if you’re reading this, so that when activists say #BlackLivesMatter you’ll understand (hopefully) that they’re not saying all lives don’t matter but that within a system that sees some as animals (a term used to describe the boys in the film, more than once) and treats them as disposal, they must assert their humanity in order to be seen. The title of the series #Whentheyseeus underscores this point and puts the onus on the viewer as much as anyone else to see better.

Site Updates (end of May 2019)

I haven’t participated in a meme in a while and a Sunday Post longer still. So I’m doing The Sunday Post by Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer and The Sunday Salon at ReaderBuzz just to sum up some of the recent (May-June 2019 only) activity on the blog.

Updated/Tweaked (in case you missed it!) –

My Bio page
My page of published Fiction and Poetry
The CREATIVE SPACE series with a new post reviewing a local youth production of Nobel Prize Winning Caribbean poet and playwright Derek Walcott’s Ti-Jean and His Brothers

Shared/Liked (from other blogs) –

The PBS blog’s discussion re harmful (and grossly incorrect) stereotypes
Author Elaine Spires new book news
A Caribbean blogger’s art-related post which though it focused on Jamaica and a Jamaican artist in particular I felt had resonance vis-à-vis the Caribbean art scene

Posted about –

Two Netflix shows I planned to check out – one ‘Always be my Maybe’ I’ve since checked out (it was fun). ETA: The second – Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us about the Central Park Five is breaking my heart as I type this.

Books I’ve posted about since my Blogger on Books series moved to this site – which I subsequently edited to add Animal Farm by George Orwell (an unexpected audio book listen). I’ve since finished another unexpected audio book listen The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton (which was really a nostalgia kick since I saw the movie when I was a kid) and the first two books in the comic book series Ororo: Before the Storm (another take on the origins of my favourite X-Men). I hope to finish up the rest of the series shortly. Meanwhile, though, my most active read of the past week has been Brenda Lee Browne’s London Rocks (which has been my bus ride-a-long and as such is almost done); I’m still inching along with Fire and Fury by Michael Wolf and The Unbearable Lightness of Being by by Milan Kundera (less and less interested in the former as I read on, while the latter continues to be a complex and interesting). The only new review added to the site have been Animal Farm and a quick take on The Outsiders

Three Caribbean women writers who had major breakthroughs recently –for poetry lovers reading this, you might want to check out Bocas Poetry Prize winner Doe Songs by Danielle Boodoo Fortune

Two posts spotlighting my own writing – my creative piece Zombie Island – here’s an excerpt

“Run,” my mother shouted, pushing me, and I hesitated.

“Run,” she shouted, throwing herself into its path, and I took off, through our back door, over the back fence, past the date palms and the lemon trees out back, past the mango tree that was just coming to come, and the soursop tree that never would in this perennially thirsty soil. I ran and ran, my mother’s dying screams like a siren in my ears, fear and guilt heavy in my heart.

– (leave a comment if you read it); and Sally, a climate change series I did for a client a little while ago and finally posted in full online linked to my online portfolio (share my services to those who need it)

And thanks for reading.