East Coast Sunset

On the West Coast, the sky explodes like a five alarm fire; all showy reds, oranges, and yellows parading across the sky. Like Revelers storming up Market Street Carnival Tuesday. You feel it in your chest. Beauty too; too beautiful to be true. And new every fucking time, like the Great Artist saying, hey, check me out. No cliché, no two Caribbean sunsets are the same. And Antigua westward facing sunsets, they’ll make a believer out of Bill Maher. Because as the sun dips toward the horizon, some contemplation on life – its endings, the tomorrows after the endings – is inevitable. Not always as conscious thought maybe but somewhere in your soul where truth lives.

Sunset as viewed from the East Coast though is hazy like movie magic. Unreal. The East Coast is the place of sunrises. So at twilight it enters its dreamy phase. First you notice the moon phasing in, an apparition, like new love. From Here to Eternity. The waves at Half Moon are a raucous riot, all urgent and loud. But the sky is quiet. Moon hanging there like a night light turned on too early. Colours slide in, soft; the shy side of all those showy reds and oranges and yellows. Moon might be full but you feel a half smile coming on. As the wild waves and the quiet night sidle up to each other and the world slows its spinning. Not ready to go to sleep yet, but heavy in its bones as the burden of being lifts.

Now how do you capture that?

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Neither West Coast nor East, but an Antiguan Sunset.

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Happy New Year!

I started looking at pictures when a friend asked us to share some of our favourite pictures of the year in the comments of her post on facebook, so you have her to blame for this photopalooza. Happy New Year!

January 2017 – promoting With Grace during an appearance on Good Morning Antigua Barbuda

GMAB

February 2017 – My story ‘The Other Daughter’ published by the Commonwealth Writers’ Adda literary platform

Adda header for the Other Daughter

April 2017 – World Intellectual Property Rights Day Mini-Fair

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May 2017 – Wadadli Pen – the awards ceremony was pushed back but it meant that we could be a part of the Wadadli Stories Book Fair

Group photo

August 2017 – Grace’s Merrymakers on the road

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September 2017 – starlites with one of my kids not a kid anymore

Aaliyahs 18th

November 2017 – Meeting up with the publisher of With Grace, Mario Picayo of Little Bell Caribbean and collecting copies of the special edition from the USVI’s Governor’s Summer Read Challenge

meeting with Mario Nov 2017

December 2017 – Promoting Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure on ABS TV’s Good Morning Antigua Barbuda (full circle)

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Also in December – book signing

the table

…and Christmas Day

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For more moments, be sure to check out A Year of Grace

Going in to 2018, I’m setting up my new workshop series which launches on January 13th, I’m in the market for new/more work, and I’m pushing these books. Thanks to the follows and subscribers of the page for journeying with me through this writing life and just life. Blessings to us all as we continue on.

Jhohadli Writing Project – Time to Commit

Happy Almost New Year.

Just a reminder that the Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Series – my first creative writing workshop in more than a year – starts on January 13th 2018. To participate, you need to register by January 5th 2018. Contact me at jhohadli at gmail dot com for registration details.

A few firsts.

For the first time I’m opening up one of my workshops to remote participants – this means you don’t have to be based in Antigua, where I live, to participate.

For the first time I’m focusing in each series on one area of craft/ing fiction. The focus this time around is SETTING.

Over time, since I offered my first writing workshop (to prospective Wadadli Youth Pen Prize participants) back in 2005, I have had the opportunity to grow as a writer, as an editor, and as a writing coach; to improve my craft through reading/studying, workshop participation, and simply working; to publish several more stories, books, and other types of writing; to teach (not only writing but also media and communications) in classroom and workshop settings; to design and offer my own courses and workshops. I offer these workshops in part to monetize what I do (sure) but also, as I grow, to share what I know, to continue doing what I love and pass it on. Anyone who knows me knows that my commitment to the literary arts runs through both my personal and professional life.

I started offering workshops under Jhohadli Writing Project with the 2013 Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project. I hope to continue building this brand, which is itself built on writing and writing-related services, on creativity and professionalism.

Whether a new or established writer, or even a student, these workshops are an opportunity to flex and strengthen your writing muscles, your ability to creatively and critically engage with not only your own writing but the literary arts, and your efforts to advance a work in progress (as I have myself been able to do through workshop experiences).

I’m happy to be starting this as a new year begins as what better time to commit to personal and professional growth than at the start of a new year? Contact me if you’re ready to commit.

Promo Flyer corrected

A Year of Grace

It’s been a challenging year. The year that is is the year that I felt too often like just sitting down in the middle of the road because I was too tired to keep going. But I am here. And still on my feet. Too stubborn, I guess. Whatever the reason, 2018 looms and I am here. My birthday’s coming up too. And when I griped to a friend about shuffling on down that rode, she reminded me of the alternative. And she’s right. Whatever the challenges, give thanks; we’re still here.

And, through it all, there are reasons to celebrate. With Grace and Lost! – two books bookending my year – are two of mine, even in a most challenging year.

Here’s hoping that whatever the challenges, you weathered the year with grace and have cause to celebrate as 2018 looms.

Raise Your Glass

The best part of my day (Christmas Eve) was a note from the Best of Books bookstore, with which I did a December 21st book signing, and which has hosted all Antigua launches of my books (The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, and With Grace just last Christmas), that Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure was tracking as the fastest seller (at their outlet) among my books (and one of their biggest Christmas sellers ever). The Best of Books is a local independent bookstore. I don’t know how this tracks worldwide though I do hope it’s a positive sign – the fact that my publisher was reporting that the book had sold out online, and that the same local bookstore above was reporting the same and had placed a second order within days of its November 30th 2017 release; and that on Amazon it is, as I type this, #18 among Bestsellers, #13 most wished for, and #1 in new releases all in the category Children’s Latin American Folk Tale Books give me reason to hope. well look at thisNot putting my cart before my horse (don’t even have a horse; barely have a cart); ultimately, the sales report and royalties will tell the tale but I am encouraged. By the positive critical reviews (looking forward to positive reader reviews), by this sales news. It’s a good Christmas present.

While I’m here though, don’t sleep on my other children’s picture book With Grace posing With Grace 5. This book is a Caribbean fairytale – the Caribbean fairytale by the way that bred Grace’s Merrymakers (yep that’s the mango tree faerie from the book in de Carnival 2017 thanks to sponsors Townhouse Mega Store, Titi’s Rent-a-Car, and Pink Mongoose).out dey

It’s been a year of challenges and tested resolve but it hasn’t been without its moments. The release of With Grace in December 2016 and of Lost! at the end of November 2017 – my two picture books back-to-back – are appropriate book ends, a reminder that I am a writer journeying. And within that there are – though it’s sometimes hard to see the tree for the forest – moments of celebration and triumph. So, raising a glass to those moments.

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Actually, that image is from my book promotion appearance on Good Morning Antigua Barbuda, earlier this month but tomorrow today is Christmas; I’ll raise another glass then. Meanwhile you enjoy your day and the day after (Boxing Day), too, eh, and toast to the moments.

Oh and sometime before mid-January, remember to boost a writer and vote for your favourite Antiguan and Barbudan book of the year.

JHOHADLI Writing Project – New Sessions (Register Now from Antigua-Barbuda or Abroad)

I have been offering courses and workshops in Antigua and Barbuda for some time. In 2018, I open up my sessions to participants from other places. While you won’t be in session benefiting from the interactive nature of my workshops, you will receive course notes and individual written feedback – a service not afforded to live-in-session participants. In this way, you can be a part of the workshop experience while benefiting from individual coaching. This series will be ongoing with fresh content designed by me drawing on my own expertise honed over more than a decade and six books of being a published writer, and the expertise of others. I remain an avid student of the craft and continue to pull lessons from multiple sources. You will benefit from this.

Each series will focus on a different aspect of the craft of writing; so that while past sessions have been more general, this series will allow you to hone in on areas in need of strengthening and build your writing muscles.

Each series is only four weeks and you work on your own time. This allows you to set realistic goals and better manage your schedule, while being committed to series goals, getting out of it what you put in.

First series focus – Setting.

Contact me for registration details.

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Antiguans and Barbudans, this, of course, remains open to you as well. You will benefit from weekly sessions to be held, beginning January 13th 2018, at the Best of Books.

Contact me for registration details.

the table 3ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

ABOUT HER BOOKS

PAST WORKSHOPS (JHOHADLI WRITING PROJECT)

ABOUT OTHER SERVICES (EDITING, COACHING, WRITING, TUTORING)

TESTIMONIALS FROM PAST CLIENTS AND WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS

“Joanne is a great editor. She is thorough and delivers in a timely manner. Her notes are valuable, which helps flesh out the story one is working on. I can’t recommend her enough.” (fiction editing client)

“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.” (writing coaching client)

“I would recommend this course to someone else because it is educational and our tutor is very knowledgeable and likes to be challenged.” (participant, written communication course, offered in partnership with Barbara Arrindell & Associates)

“I learned something new each day.” (participant, creative writing workshop for teachers at the Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Education Summer Institute)

“I gained insight into different techniques and styles of writing, and an appreciation for the technical ability required, as well as guidance in replicating these styles. I was also able to gain constructive criticism on several original pieces and works in progress.” (participant, Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2015)

“The workshop was excellent!! I have been to workshops before but Joanne and Bernice used unconventional ways to access creativity. The exercises were very novel and generated a lot of new ideas. Great learning experience for me and I will use the techniques going forward to get story ideas.” (participant, creative writing workshop at BIM Lit Fest, jointly facilitated with Bernice McFadden)

“I learned a lot from this camp. I can honestly say that my writing has improved from this experience and because of it I’m sure I will get better. Highlight of my summer.” (participant, Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2013)

“I gained courage to share my work with others, I learned to look beyond/deeper than what’s on the surface and to show the readers rather than telling them, which makes the piece much more interesting. I also learned that detail is very important.” (participant, Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2013)

“The activities we did were very helpful in developing writing, reading , observational skills, and more.” (participant, Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project 2013)

“Informative, interactive, educational and funny……learnt some tips re: review: rewriting and editing – sharing painful, funny editing sagas and sharing story ideas…” (workshop participant, Jhohadli Writing Project)

“Being my first writers’ circle it was just a breath for fresh air, generally. Enabling, me to look at writing for a new aspect, and just keep writing…as a young writer it is realized that I’ve a lot to learn.” – (participant, my first Express Yourself! writers workshop, subsequently rebranded as the Jhohadli Writing Project)

“The information I got from the workshop was priceless…I thrived in the environment you created.” (participant, CODE-sponsored writing workshop)

“(I learned) how to construct and edit and how to ‘back up my chat’.” (participant, Department of Youth Affairs media training workshop)

“The one on one was very good I was able to get a candid opinion on my work from a writer …(whose) work I respect, It was very helpful to have both strong points of my pieces and my issues highlighted and be given suggestions on how to make my work better.” (participant in one-on-one tutorial during Just Write Writers Retreat)

New sessions of the Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Series begin on January 13th 2018.

Contact me for registration details.

Lost! Interview

signingI’ve added my interview with the Feathered Quill to my Media Page. Here’s an Excerpt:

FQ: As I mentioned in my review, I love the illustrations for your book – they’re so bright and lively. Would you tell our readers a little about the process of working with your illustrator? Did you go over details of each illustration before she set to work, or did you discuss the overall feeling of the book and let her get creative? What was the process?

HILLHOUSE: Aren’t they beautiful? Thanks for the positive review, by the way; I’m happy and relieved to read it. Believe it or not, Danielle (Boodoo-Fortune) who is located in Trinidad in the southern Caribbean while I am in Antigua in the eastern Caribbean, literally several plane hops away, worked primarily from the story…and from one or two reference images I provided to the publisher from my research, for example, a picture of Wadadli. I recommended her to the publisher, because I not only knew and loved her work but thought her aesthetic would be a good fit for the world of Lost! She was contracted by Caribbean Reads and given her instructions by them. My involvement beyond that was limited to offering feedback when invited to do so, which I have to say was fairly often as this or that character was drawn or this or that scene realized, by the publisher. So Danielle and I had no direct interaction during the creative process and it was only on launch day, during a live chat, now archived here https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com, that we got to talk some about our creative processes. Quoting from Danielle, during that chat, re how she approached the project: “Dolphin’s daydreaminess really helps define him, I think. It was the first thing that struck me when I started doing concept sketches of each of the characters. It set him apart from his friends…aside from his nose of course. In the illustrations, I wanted his eyes to always be wide and filled with wonder…I wanted to get a feel for all the characters’ personalities, especially Dolphin. I wanted to bring out those qualities of curiousity and playfulness that make him so endearing in the book. It was a joy to illustrate because the underwater setting made it the perfect fit for watercolours, my medium of choice.”

Read the full interview here.

See interviews and more on my Media page.

See the Lost! review page.

See Lost! first page.

See Lost! gallery.