A Tuesday Meme (a Brand New One for Me)

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings where the Meme-mother discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging and invites others to weigh in and join the conversation .

So, okay, the conversation seems to be about horror movies as America-land gears up for Halloween. I’m in the Caribbean and though Halloween seems to be catching on here, it’s not exactly my bag. I mean, the last three movies I sorta-mostly watched are

Quincy – love Quincy Jones’ music, read his autobiography years ago, so (his recent health scares aside) not a lot new here for me…but point of view adds something, and with his daughter, Rashida, in the director’s chair and sometimes behind the lens, it is a more personal and touching portrait of an admittedly flawed and undeniably talented human being. The man who from his jazz days to his Sinatra days to The Wiz to Sanford and Son and other TV and movie themes to Michael Jacksons’ Off the Wall, Thriller,michael-jackson-thriller-e1535549330442-700x355and Bad, to The Colour Purple to We are the World to Back on the Block to the Fresh Prince of Belair to Vibe … is responsible for some of the most enduring musical and pop culture moments of our lives. I know Netflix is presumptuous (and racially stereotypical) with those algorithms so you may not even be aware of this one but it’s worth a viewing.

Nappily Ever After (also on Netflix and based on this book I haven’t yet read 41osWiEC9sL__SX322_BO1,204,203,200_)- the latest Sanaa Lathan starrer – with a side of Lynn Whitfield. These two women were staples of ‘Black’ film throughout the 90s and aughts (The Women of Brewster Place, The Josephine Baker Story, Stompin at the Savoy, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Eve’s Bayou etc. in the case of Whitfield; The Best Man, Disappearing Acts, Love and Basketball,  Brown Sugar, Something New etc. in the case of Sanaa) and honestly I was going to watch for the two of them alone. Throw in some social commentary vis-à-vis Black women and our complicated relationship with our hair  in world where Eurocentric beauty standards (including straight hair) are the default (for more and deeper takes on this topic read Althea Prince’s The Politics of Black Women’s Hair 41fcMlIvaVLor watch Chris Rock’s Good Hair51D76G05XQL__SY445_), and what’s not to watch. I saw a lot of criticism of this one before I actually saw it. Folks felt it was light fare and too cliché from what I’m gathering, and they’re not wrong. But it’s also a romantic comedry (sic) and they do that – see every Meg Ryan film ever. So I take it for what it is and enjoy it as such (and it was entertaining) and hope that we get more and more opportunities to tell a wide range of films so that one film won’t be expected to carry the burden of telling our many stories (especially when it’s not exactly the genre for it).


That first big chop can be scary…scary liberating…as Sanaa will find out when the tears dry (still from Nappily Ever After)

Leave no Trace – the last film I managed to see (mostly) beginning to end. I saw the trailer sometime ago on youtube and it seemed interesting so when I needed to give my brain a rest, I thought, why not. It’s the story of a father who has opted out with his daughter into the wilds of…some wet, cold part of America…until they are drawn back in to life because it turns out you’re not allowed to opt out of life with your teenage daughter. He tries to play along so he won’t lose her but in the end the restlessness gets him; the heartbreaking part coming when she discovers she wants to stay while he can’t quit moving.

I liked all three in different ways for different reasons (but didn’t love any of them…probably taking the most joy and insight from Quincy). But, obviously, no horror here. I did catch the season 9 premiere of The Walking Dead which jumped the story forward a couple of years to something approximating what passes for normal in a zombie apocalypse, walkingdead-season9-blogroll-1538446518768_400wand it did have some scary moments – not the zombies but the death that’s always imminent. I said a while ago that I was over The Walking Dead (and did check out for a while) but I can’t seem to quit it (though it isn’t appointment TV for me like it used to be). Ezekiel almost falling in to a pit of zombies is about as horrific as it got (and with a couple of near death experiences last season in the face of his insistent optimism), it did feel like the leader of the Kingdom was on borrowed time and that that rope might snap. But… *spoiler alert* it didn’t. Though I do know due to casting news that we can look forward to two major character deaths this season…I mean, “we” assuming I keep watching. The freelancing life is hectic is as hectic does, and I’m still about a season behind on every other show I’m remotely interested in – Atlanta to The Americans…but someday!

Speaking of Someday, I did mention that I have a new story Evening Ritual in The New Daughters of Africa and here’s a meme-ish-related tidbit, it actually began as a sorta ‘ghost story” (or an attempt at historical fiction, or something) inspired by women in a  photo I saw at a lecture I attended on the old sugar factory transport system (the locos). For the longest while I tried to make these two stories which existed in two different times fit together but they didn’t, and when I untangled them I discovered I had one story that with some work (and some helpful feedback), an editor thought worthy of publication in this seminal publication – and as for the original story, in that other time, I may find a way to dig that out yet. The other-other story I mentioned The Night the World Ended was inspired by last hurricane season in the Caribbean which was its own horror show. As I mentioned that’s forthcoming in The Caribbean Writer. Another tidbit, that story was one of those out of body writing experiences, so much so that when they sent word that they’d be publishing it and even as I was re-reading it, I couldn’t remember writing it, though I remember that I wrote it…if that makes any sense.

Most recent book finished is Faye Kellerman’s historical murder mystery Straight into Darkness which didn’t scare me (well, not in the way intended but given that it’s set at the pre-birth of the Third Reich more in the this is what can happen to a democracy if we don’t pay attention way) but did hold my interest.

I feel like I should end with favourite horror films or something to play this game right…but I’m not sure I have any. Does Michael Jackson’s Thriller count? No? Okay free associating off the top of my head, I’m going with Rosemary’s Baby, Cujo, and The Omen – none of which I’ll be watching this October – and leave it at that.

If you’re here for the first time, my name is Joanne C. Hillhouse. I’ve authored some books – I hope you’ll check them out (and if you already have, I encourage you to post a reader review to Amazon or Goodreads, or even here); and I offer freelance services – look me up if you need any of the listed services. Thanks!



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.

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”.