JWP #CantStop #WontStop

Riding the momentum of the fourth Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Workshop Series since the start of 2018, we will be moving in to Series 5 later this month. Yes, we will be overlapping with Carnival when life as we know it typically pauses in Antigua and Barbuda BUT a pause is not a full stop. That said, if you’re a Carnival lover like me, you know I won’t be doing anything to interrupt the Carnival. I’ve checked the schedule and we can do this. We will do this. Onward.Promo July August 2018

Read more JWP and other workshops here.
Read about other services here.
Read Performance reviews here.

Read CREATIVE SPACE – an opportunity for Antiguan and Barbudan businesses and businesses operating in Antigua and Barbuda to boost their brand while boosting local art and culture.

Read about my books.
Read reviews of my books.

Lots more to discover on this site; like I said, can’t stop, won’t stop.

 

 

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Linking up

I’m linking this post up to Talk of the Town at Jera’s Jamboree.

ETA: Post name change as I’m also linking this one up with the Caffeinated Reviewer’s Sunday Post which gives me the opportunity to remind you to check out my last posted review – Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers
– [review excerpt: ‘ Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is a damn good read…glad I stuck with it.’] 

Outliers

Got some story writing done today (finished one story, did some plotting on another) and made little little progress on other reads, namely Elaine Spires’ Singles Holiday and Tananarive Due’s Black Rose (been reading the former way too long but finish line in sight, and the latter I’m into it’s just time, man). Final update of the update, the post after this is a bookish one – a share re one of my childhood favourites Charlotte’s Web (check it out).

CharlotteWeb

(end ETA)

It’s been a weird week, the week of catchup  and trying to catch the rhythm of life, in as much as the freelancing life has any steady rhythm, after even a short trip usually is. Balls were dropped. But also writing was done (I do give thanks to the workshop I recently blogged for stimulating new writing and new focus); and overall the dance between being productive and being had its moments (even if I was somewhat very scattered).

Here’s a moment. A new review, this one from the Caffeinated Reviewer’s Nonna’s Corner which called my picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (audio book version) “a charming, honest narrative about friendship and adventure.” Thanks, Kimberly! Read the full review at the Caffeinated Reviewer and this and other reviews of this particular book here on Jhohadli.

NFF2018_Kids zone_Danielle Boodoo Fortune_Lost_2

Here’s another moment. An interview I did with the Caribbean Literary Heritage website has gone live. Among other things I was asked about books. Here’s a sample: in response to the question about what writers I wish I knew more of (which I interpreted as which Caribbean writers I wish I knew more of), I answered: “No single writer in particular; just continuing to ‘discover’ the canon – classic and contemporary – in general. I’ve recently read or re-read, I’m not sure which, and reviewed Wide Sargasso Sea* and given that I’ve liked the other two Jean Rhys books I’ve read, and find her life interesting and mysterious, and her writing in some ways very modern and feminist for its time, I’m game to read more. I think Caryl Philips has a new biography of her, A View of the Empire at Sunset. I’d be interested in reading that.” Read the full interview.

rhys

New book-ish announcements (Talk of the Town being a book blogging meme and me doing next to no new reading this week – only a little peek in to one of my reads in progress, Faye Kellerman’s Straight into Darkness) on my other blog included announcements re Marlon James’ new book Black Leopard Red Wolf (which, okay, take my money!), awards for Edwidge Dandicat and Earl Lovelace (two writers I love; read everything!), and Zomo: the Rabbit (it’s not a review but the children’s book features  in one of my week’s experiences and this blog)… oh and a reading buddy teased the new (or new to me) Lestat/Anne Rice (so add that one to the TBR).

lestat

I have had to make peace as far as TBRs go with the fact that the journey not the destination is the thing – I will never finish every book (as a conversation just last night, reminding of all the Chimamanda Ngozie Adichies I haven’t yet read, reminded me) but I will savour every book I finish. Hope readers have the same relationship with my books.

And finally, congrats to the comic book duo Gambit and Rogue. couple

I haven’t read this one (as far as X-Men goes, I still have to get to the Storm collections I recently acquired first) but you can read my review of GamRog’s Ring of Fire mini-series here.

It’s weird, whenever I start one of these book meme posts, I’m sure I have nothing new to report (I just don’t read as fast as the rest of the community seems to – I mean my deepest read this week was a participant submission to the Jhohadli Writing Workshop Creative Writing Workshop Series, which I facilitate) but there you have it, looks like I had a word after all. Now hopefully more words will spill unto the page (not here, off line) as I keep writing.

The Sunday Post (March 25th 2018)

This is my Sunday Post, shout out to the Caffeinated Reviewer. The Sunday Post is weekly which provides the opportunity to recap and look ahead, re books, blogging, and life. ETA: Also making this my post for the meme It’s Monday, What are You Reading?

This Sunday I’ve mostly been reading through submissions to the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize’s annual writing challenge, which is part of its mandate to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. I’m not the main judge – she’s at work, but several members of the team, including me, spent some time over the past month or more benched by the flu and other illnesses – but I will be singling out some submissions for mention/encouragement, it being a winner-take-all year (normally, the prize breaks down in to categories along age lines and then a top three overall). We’re doing this in part because we just couldn’t cope with taking on the full scale challenge this year but didn’t want to shelve it and have it lose momentum. We’re behind our usual schedule but in addition to the late start re planning and illness, there’s work, life, and growing pains…there’s probably even some election hangover (it was election week in Antigua and Barbuda); but we’re working toward having the results out as soon as possible (Wadadli Pen not election, those results are already out). We’ve already started to receive follow-up queries.

As I write this, I’ve got to get ready to leave shortly for an event. More about that another time…maybe. ETA: Read about that event on my other blog.

And that’s my Sunday.

Last week on the blog

I did the 50 Questions you’ve never been asked Tag

The Boy from Willow Bend - COVER.p65

A Study Guide (Author Edition) for my book The Boy from Willow Bend (which is read by students in the Caribbean)

Speaking Intention (which I described in my reply to a comment as the scariest post I’ve done in my blogging life)

And though written a year ago, a poem that fits right with my mood, post-election, Antigua

I also added some throwback reviews from my My Space days (now back online) to my Blogger on Books series – most recently With Silent Tread by Frieda Cassin

Cassin

Around the Blogosphere

The posts by other bloggers that caught my interest (well, there were a few but especially) were:

The Merchant of Venice as a Once Upon a Time Book set in Venice at Definitely Lorna

Zeezee with Books post on The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark

Art Exhibition: Jacqueline Bishop’s “By the Rivers of Babylon” at Repeating Islands

And *shameless plug* Protest magazine published my article Where’s Storm’s Movie?

Other stuff

Be sure to check out my services, my books, my media page, and other things.

I’m still reading all the books I’ve been reading, most actively this week A Brief History of Seven Killings, All the Joy You can Stand, Outliers, and Nobody owns the Rainbow. Fingers crossed I finish one soon.

Lost! Now Available as an Audio Book

Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure has become my first book available in audio format. In fact, it’s available in more formats than any of my books to this point –

books 2018

The Boy from Willow Bend (published with UK independent with Caribbean roots, Hansib) is paperback only

Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings (published with Canadian press, Insomniac) is available in kindle and paperback

Oh Gad! (published with Strebor an imprint within Simon & Schuster in the US) is available in kindle, paperback, and mass market paperback

Musical Youth (published by independent Caribbean press CaribbeanReads publishing, also the publisher of Lost!) is available in paperback and kindle

With Grace (published by US based independent with Caribbean roots, Little Bell Caribbean) is available in hardcover (not counting the special paperback edition done for the 2017 USVI Governor’s Summer Read Challenge)

Lost! meanwhile is available in paperback, hardcover, kindle, and audio.

Go here to listen to a sample and hopefully buy, read, review, share.

Go here for information on all my books #onthehustle #TheWritingLife

 

A Book Back

books 2018My novel Oh Gad! will be six years published this year. If a book was a child, she’d be a first grader. Damn. I had high hopes when it came out too. It was my second act and my first full length novel after two earlier releases. My first to crack the US market. Hell, yeah I had high hopes. You would think I’ve since learned to manage my expectations, right? Nah, son, I still have high hopes. Against the odds. I’m hard-headed like that. #TheWritingLife ETA: Shortly after I wrote this, this happened (the author specifically referencing Oh Gad!) – 10 Female Caribbean Authors You Should Know And Add To Your American Lit Syllabus – life (and publishing) is full of suprrises.

Here’s an excerpt:

Before Nikki was a motley crew – curious expats mixed in with home-grown Rastafarians, academics mixed in with area farmers, grey heads and chinee bumps, and the odd politician. It was not only a larger, but a more diverse crowd than she had anticipated.

A part of her dared hope, as she glimpsed some of the Blackman’s Ridge project’s staunchest opponents in the crowd, that this could be the bridge between the warring factions. That was the goal, anyway. She’d tried to get Cam to come, but he’d scoffed at the very idea. “Make mosquito nyam me up all night,” he’d laughed. “For what? I don’t hold to all that ancestors crap.  Black people hang on to slavery too much, if you ask me. Is that keeping them down. I’m a practical man. I live in today. Anybody who know me, know that. For me to go up there would be a bold faced lie; and I never lie.”

The night’s programme consisted of a drum call and dub poetry. At midnight, the dawning of Emancipation Day, August Monday, when Antigua’s enslaved Africans got their first taste of freedom back in 1834, plastic cups were passed around, and libations sipped and poured out ritualistically in honour of these survivors and the many more non-survivors. Tanty had insisted on that and mixed up the “bebbridge” herself.

Everyone got a chance to enter the dungeon, in pairs and threes; some emerged quickly and unscathed, others were visibly moved by the experience of being stooped and confined in the small space.

As Sadie began her oral history of the dungeon, of slaves imprisoned for infractions, imagined or real, a reporter from one of the local stations, ignoring the mean look she shot him, stuck a recorder in her face.

“…many died here sick with their own fear as it come through their skin and full up the air ‘round them ‘til they were breathing their own stink,” Sadie said. “Not a lot of new air could get in ‘round the heavy door they had barring the entrance. Only tiny cracks leave back for insects to crawl through and torment them to the last. As for them that survive, there was madness or relief, relief that sucked at their fight and spirit…”

Nikki found herself seduced by Sadie’s words and her voice, as she spoke with previously unheard serenity and authority.

A noise cut through the night: A bone deep, belly full moan. It was Tanty, swaying, eyes tightly shut. Nikki reached an arm toward her, then hesitated.

Tanty’s moan cut through her. Not like a knife. Like waves, curling beautifully in and into her, relentlessly. Nikki sighed and even cried a little; the moment, the long moments, overwhelming her, filling her with both sadness and joy. She felt like she was being filled and emptied at the same time, like she’d eaten too much and yet not enough.

The scent of roasting cashews, which Tanty had insisted on, perfumed the night air.

Nikki had been concerned about fire spreading but then Audrey had, unexpectedly, donated a couple of coal pots which allowed them to contain the fire. And as the scent now wafted out, the moaning swelled, continuing to fill the gaps; a chorus for Sadie’s chronicle which ended with a roll call of Antiguan martyrs and heroes from King Court to V.C. Bird. Here and there, there were tears. As Sadie’s voice, hoarse now, faded, the drums once again took over, taking on the timbre of Tanty’s unabashed moaning.  The drum talk took them into fore day morning, as the Antiguans called those hours just before day break. It was then, in that in-between time, that Nikki came back to herself as if from a blissful dream. She caught snatches of it, of being inside the dungeon, of not being afraid, though shadows and light, ancestral spirits, danced across the jewel-like stones along the cave wall, Tanty’s voice reminding her that she was from their blood and they wouldn’t do her no harm. As even memory faded, Nikki opened her eyes to the sight of pale light now spreading across the sky, and discovered that she was leaning against Belle’s shoulder as her sister sat still as a rock.

*

Related Oh Gad! posts

Launch gallery
First pages
What the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books had to say about Oh Gad!
Oh Gad! Presents a Compelling Slice of Island Life (NPR)
Reviews
Antigua and Barbuda historical spaces in Oh Gad!
(Another) Oh Gad! excerpt
All Joanne C. Hillhouse Books

What’s New, As the Year Winds Down

Promo Flyer correctedI launch a new creative writing workshop series in the new year and for the first time you can participate from anywhere. Contact me to find out how. For background on my past workshop experience, go here, and for performance reviews re workshop and other writing services, go here.

I’ve launched my newest book, children’s picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, a launch highlight being this past week’s book signing at the Best of Books.

As you can see, it wasn’t just about Lost! – people left with signed copies of With Grace, Lost!, and Musical Youth. These are essentially the children’s and teen/young adult portion of my …of the books I’ve written. Thanks to everyone who came out. For more images, check the gallery.

We’re now in to the busiest part of the holiday weekend. I hope the year has been kind to you and the new year is even kinder. As a working writer, I hope for more opportunities to continue doing what I do. You can support the journey by, of course, buying the books, writing a reader review, sharing book news, and, in my case, news of my workshops. The thing writers need most is time (including a time out now and again) and a boost – at times a promotional boost, at times a motivational boost, at times a financial boost; because hard as we work, as much passion as we have for what we do, it doesn’t always balance out. So, boost a writer if you can.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Top Ten Favourite Reads of the Year

This meme asks for Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017 but I’m doing Top Ten Favourite Books (not including literary journals/periodicals even if I’ve blogged my reviews of them) I’ve read (to completion) in 2017 – none of which, as it happens, were actually written in 2017. Now what do I mean by favourite? This is not strictly speaking about literary merit, though that’s in there too, but also the books that were enjoyable, engaging, got me talking, talking back, and which I don’t have to stretch to recall or recapture as I prep this list.

10. See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid See now then
Before I read reviews of this, I saw reviews saying you either love this or hate it, no middle ground. Not true. I didn’t love it or hate it; but I appreciated it. And, as usual, the flow is quite seductive. Link to review.

9. Glorious by Bernice McFadden Glorious
I enjoyed the beginning sections of this and the end, but there were times in the middle where I just didn’t care that much; overall though it was the feelings on the bookend that stuck, that and an overarching appreciation for the larger purpose of the tale beyond the individual woman’s story. Link to review.

8. The Fountain and the Bough by Elizabeth Hall Hall
Something stole Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird’s (a book that reminds that as writers we’re all a bit crazy but take one thing at a time, take it bird by bird, and we can probably muddle through) spot on this list and this poetry collection might be it. I mean, I liked it but top 10 liked it, I’m not sure…but it was just such an exciting discovery for me as an Antiguan reader and writer, I couldn’t not share it on this list.  Link to original review.
7. Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal Shades
I like books that feel experimental and this does – regency era fic that intermingles fantasy/sci-fi (in that magic is a normal and seamless part of that world) is certainly experimental without being clunky and ridiculous; a compelling main, female character and adherence to the rules of the world grounds it. I also liked the second in the series Glamour in Glass (which is a more ambitious historical re-write) but I liked this first one better. Link to original review.

6. Closure: Contemporary Black British Short Stories by Jacob Ross closure
Story collections are good, especially if your reading time is limited – it’s like snacking as opposed to sitting for a full multi-course meal. If this book was a snack, it’d be healthier snacks – a vegetable platter but with a nice, tasty dip – by which I mean it’s not easily dismissed fluff, it takes a while to digest and it’s enriching, well-crafted insightful stuff, but not always fun. Link to original review.

5. In Time of Need by Shakirah Bourne Time
By contrast, this single-author story collection is pure fun even when its dealing with some unbearably painful stuff. I’m not sure what kind of snack that would be because it’s not empty calories but like with potato chips or fries you’ll go through it without realizing it and you’ll want more when you’re done. Its placement on this list ahead of Closure really adds up to which snack you’re in the mood for and that depends on the mood obviously. Link to original review.

4. The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly Lizard Cage
I was so anxious as I read this, particularly in the last third, because I had come to care so much about the characters, and because it is so unflinching and unrelenting in its telling of a brutal story set largely in a prison in Burma/Myanmar – that somehow manages a redemptive arc (though not, strictly speaking, a happy ending). It wasn’t fun but it was good. Link to original review.

3. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Seth Grahame-Smith Abraham-Lincoln-Vampire-Hunter
This was by contrast my swiftest (with the exception of Go De Raas to Sleep) and most fun (also with the exception of Go De Raas to Sleep) read (so why isn’t Go De Rass to Sleep on this list again?) of the year. It’s just such a ridiculous premise and anytime I mentioned I was reading it people got very judgey but dammit books are supposed to be fun and ridiculous sometimes too…and this was that (much more so than the movie which kinda sucked) plus, with unexpected depths. If Twilight fan fiction can become the bestselling 50 Shades (and I’ve read neither, by the way), I’m not going to feel shame for liking a mash-up of historical biography and vampire fiction. I like what I like. Plus this book got me through the literal dark days of the worst days of this hurricane season. Link to original review.

2. The Known World by Edward P. Jones edwardpjones_theknownworld1
I kept bugging a friend with details about this as I read it, so much so that she ended up borrowing it and reading it after I was done. It settles the reader in slavery era America but doesn’t allow anyone – white or black or indigenous/native – to sit easy in a familiar narrative; you might say it unsettles the reader in slavery era America and has an unfamiliar narrative take on a story we thought we knew. Link to original review.

1. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys Sargasso
Part of what makes this classic interesting is the way it fills in the blanks re another literary classic, Jane Eyre. And Rhys’ story (covered somewhat in the intro) is also interesting. These things make the reading richer. But as a standalone, even without knowing about the author or the book’s place as anti-fan fiction, it’s still just really good, really well written…really infuriating in its probing at issues of race, class, and gender in ways that can still get the blood hot. Link to original review.

This is not science obviously; these lists can change minute to minute…and I’m reading at least one book now that I’m sure would be among my year’s best if I finish it before the end of 2017. But for now, dey e dey.

Since we’re talking books, as a reminder, these are mine  (pictured at the top of this page) – please consider adding to your Christmas shopping list.