Mood Music

When your current mood comes wrapped in ’80s nostalgia…

“If someone else is suffering enough to write it down
When every single word makes sense
Then it’s easier to have those songs around
The kick inside is in the line that finally gets to you
and it feels so good to hurt so bad
and suffer just enough to sing the blues

when all hope is gone
Sad songs say so much”


First Chapter, First Paragraph

This post is part of the First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros meme in which you post the first chapter of a book you’re reading. Here goes.

(from Freedom Song by Amit Chaudhuri)amit
“It was a solitary voice, saying Allah-hu-akbar and other familiar but incomprehensible syllables. Though it was coming from quite far away, for the nearest mosque was a mile northward, she could hear it clearly, as if it were being recited in this very lane, and its presence filled the grey area between sleep and waking. The singer, if one could call him such, seemed absolutely absorbed, wherever he was, in the unearthly lift of the melody, in his indecision between repetition and progression, and in the delicate business of now prolonging and now shortening a syllable. The city was still – the trams, the trees whose leaves were covered with a film of dust, the junctions, Lower Circular and Landsdowne roads, the three-storeyed houses on Southern Avenue, the ten-storeyed buildings on Ballygunge Circular Road. Soon that machinery would start working again, not out of any sense of purpose, but like a watch that is wound daily by someone’s hand. Almost without any choice in the matter, people would embark upon the minute frustrations and satisfactions of their lives. It was in this moment of postponement that the azaan was heard, neither announcing the day nor keeping it a secret.”

Since we’re here, for any one interested in my writing, I am writing and this past month I’ve had movement on several projects including the in progress sequel to my teen/young adult novel Musical YouthMusical Youth (a finalist for the inaugural Burt Award). So (mindful that this is only draft seventybillion and subject to change) in the spirit of First Chapter, First Paragraph, here goes:

(Musical Youth Two: Talented Teens – wip)
‘“I’m doing it,” Nicola declared with all the regality of Meghan Markle, her latest spirit animal. Zahara, sitting on the lily pad centred in the pattern of her friend’s bedspread under the giant canopy of the four poster, already felt like she was floating downriver. She knew what was coming and she knew she wouldn’t have the luxury of cheering from the bank.’

To read first pages of my books Musical Youth, The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Stories, Oh Gad!, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, click the book titles.

Happy reading…and for those of us who need it, keep writing, keep going.

Barbados, Guyana, and Bermuda Finalists for 2018 Burt Award

This post on underrated young adult novels had me reflecting on the underrated teen/young adult books from right here in the Caribbean and while there are much more than the ones to be found on this list, these Burt Award winning teen/young adult Caribbean novels, all of them teased here, including my own Musical Youth, has moved me to ask…so what’s your teen reading this summer?

Wadadli Pen

The Burt Award for Caribbean teen/young adult fiction is sponsored by Canadian non-profit CODE and administered by Trinidad and Tobago’s Bocas Literary Festival. The winner will be announced at this year’s festival, scheduled for April 25th to 29th 2018. In the running are Shakirah M. Bourne of Barbados (below right), Imam Baksh of Guyana (below left), and Elizabeth J. Jones of Bermuda (below middle).


Here’s the announcement making the rounds:

CODE and NGC Bocas Lit Fest are thrilled to announce the finalists for the 5th annual CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature. This year’s finalists were selected from over 30 submissions of both published books and unpublished manuscripts from around the Caribbean.

In alphabetical order by title, the 2018 finalists are:
A Dark Iris by Elizabeth J. Jones (Bermuda)

Jury Summary: “A sophisticated ‘speculative fiction’ story that reveals the realities of adolescence; crushes, family problems, and school…

View original post 1,361 more words

JWP: Notes from Around the Table

A friend asked me recently if I enjoy doing my Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Workshop Series, and I could honestly reply that I do. This Saturday’s session was an example of what I love about them.

There we were around the table, about to get going, when one of the participants announced that next Saturday was cricket. Now I know she’s a cricket fan-atic because the first time I met her (where she first asked me about my workshops) was at cricket, and I saw how much she loved the game and the atmosphere around the game. I figured I’d lost her. But she continued, no I’ll be here. Granted, I won’t know until she shows up or doesn’t (almost every time since I’ve been doing this, including this Saturday, there’s someone I expect to show up who doesn’t), but if she would give up a day with something she loves as much as cricket to come to a session, I’ll count that as a win.

There’ve been a few times since I restarted these creative writing workshops at the start of the year where I’ve felt genuine purpose and joy watching participants (sometimes just participant) lean in to the experience. There was a point on Saturday when we were doing a free writing exercise when I called time and told them to wind down …10 minutes later they were still writing…after a time I had to reluctantly call time again, just so we could cover some of what I had planned to cover. Later I would give them some time to share what they’d written and explore what they’d discovered in the process.

That’s one of the beauties of a workshop. I plan meticulously, of course, but my desire to make sure that participants are engaged and getting something out of the experience helps set the tone and means that I adjust as I need to. Though I have done workshops with participants numbering in the mid-20s, keeping the number of registrants to a manageable size is good. If I’m being honest, though, there’s manageable and there’s low and registration has been low since JWP CWWS re-started this year; I will need to attract more participants to continue to justify these workshops’ place in my schedule.

This is the fourth in the series of four week workshops since the start of the year, week three, and each week there’s been a sense of surprise on their part when our hour and a half comes to an end. Saturday, one said, “these go too fast… (they’re) so much fun.”

What’s interesting is we’ve been doing more practical exercises and more intensive critiquing of their writing this round; it shouldn’t be fun. But, yes, it is.


The Jhohadli Writing Workshop’s new series (i.e. the next set of workshops) will be announced shortly. If you want to be put on the mailing list to participate, contact me . It’s based in Antigua and Barbuda, but long distance participants can receive the material and participate in the exercises. So, if you want to dedicate some time to working on your writing, whether to improve your writing skills or to push forward on a project, contact me.


JSYWP, 2013

Also, at this point in the summer I had hoped to have commitments that would allow me to announce at least one week of the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project (first offered in 2013 and targeted at teens) for late summer (I’ll need to make a decision this week). So contact me if you would like to have a JSYWP this year and either wish to participate or sponsor a participant – and I’ll see.


Creative Space #7 of 2018 – Carnival


The Carnival schedule was the jump-off for this update to the CREATIVE SPACE series. The series is me jumping back in to something I’ve enjoyed doing over my many years as a journalist covering (reporting, providing commentary on – sometimes both), among other things, local art and culture across various media – TV, print, and online – but this time using my own platform (oh, look, I have one of those). To reach a bigger audience, I syndicate the series – so far to Antigua Nice. To enable me to continue doing the series, I am inviting local (Antiguan and Barbudan) businesses (and businesses with interest in Antigua and Barbuda) to sponsor a post, or two, or three…in the series. Boosting their Brand while boosting local art and culture.

Go back and read the posts about Playing to Inspire, the launches of Lovers Rock and Plantations of Antigua: the Sweet Success of Sugar, Tennis Antigua’s Labour Day tournamentopen mic, Barbuda’s Homecoming, and, of course, Carnival!

If you like the series share it, if you want to sponsor a post (and why wouldn’t you!), contact me.

What’s On Your Nightstand?

I’m tackling two questions in the What’s on Your Nightstand book meme.
What's On Your Nightstand
3.Tell about what you are reading and why. I love to read the backstory on books. Did someone give it to you? Are you trying out a new genre at the recommendation of a friend (or website)? Did you stumble across a new author in a used bookstore?

I recently cut my active reading pile down to four…by putting the other books back on the shelf. The four left standing are, in order of my closeness to the finish line (i.e. the end of the book) The Black Rose by Tananarive Due, Singles Holiday by Elaine Spires, Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal, Straight into Darkness by Faye Kellerman…and back-issues of comics featuring Marvel’s Storm (also a digital copy of Beneath the Lion’s Wings by Marie Ohanesian Nardin). Why am I reading them…a friend gave me The Black Rose – it’s a biography and like biographies, and for this and just the quality of the writing, it’s my favourite of the books I’m currently reading (at this moment); I bought Singles Holiday at another friend’s book reading; I received Without a Summer and all other books in the Glamourist series (I’ve read three others) from the author after doing some editing work for her; I bought Faye Kellerman’s book from the used book shelf because I couldn’t find her husband Jonathan Kellerman’s latest…sss at the local bookstore and needed a fix (I’d liked some of her  Peter Decker books as well but am in particular a fan of his Alex Delaware series) plus, though this wasn’t Decker or Delaware, it was WWll era detective fiction, I figured I couldn’t go wrong; Wings was sent to me by the author for review. The Storm books are a gift from someone who knows she’s one of my favourite superheroes. I just started on these today.

4.Fill us in on your reading habits. When are you reading these books? Is one reserved for bedtime reading? Does one stay in your car to be read while you are waiting? Do you read just one book at a time?

These days I’m reading on the bus and in lines; it’s rare for me to have a day or a night to just kick back and read…so it’s usually to pass the time when I’m out and about. Which sucks. I travelled recently and the plane ride allowed me to finish Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and make significant progress on The Black Rose but alas reading’s slowed again now that I’m back home. I read several books at a time, sometimes at random, sometimes depending on the move, sometimes depending on what’s convenient and within reach. ETA: Case in point, since drafting this last night, I’ve started another book Freedom Song by Amit Chaudhuri because the walk to the shop feels shorter, especially in this heat, if I have something to read or listen to and my active reading pile was further away than my bookshelf (there’s layers to laziness, folks…in my defense I’m operating in energy sapping heat on about two or so hours of sleep today) so I picked this …as to how it got on the shelf, pretty sure it was given to me by someone since it doesn’t seem like something I’d buy, but I don’t hate it so far.

So, what’s on your nightstand? and how’re YOU reading?

Since we’re talking books allow me to thank Kimberly and Tammi for recent reviews of two of mine – my picture books With Grace, which Tammi described on goodreads as “a delightful read”, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, which blogger Kimberly called “a charming, honest narrative”.

Playing With Filters

Current mood. #memories of #NOLA

OriginalI kind of like this picture because it takes me back to New Orleans, my favourite American city – even though it wasn’t actually taken in NOLA. I’ll just imagine that I’m dreaming of Anne Rice’s muse city, of riding street cars, of Louis Armstrong, and listening to jazz, and sucking on spiked sno cones along the river walk, and impromptu Mardi Gras, and in the Caribbean-feel of the place, in the cadence of the speech, in the spiciness of the food, and the bittersweet colour of the visit coming when it did in my life happenings, that I’ll always be a little bit sad when I think of NOLA, a city I’ve wanted to visit since foreverago but that going especially when I did was also joyful. Also, I like that everything is purple. One of my favourites in general, it seems the right colour for these reflections.

#current #mood … #mercurial


p.s. unrelated but happening right now, check out my new guest post on the Commonwealth Writers Blog, What is Voiceprint?