Writing is Your Business is Back – Register Now

ETA: Want to pitch Writing is Your Business l and Persuasive Public Speaking to your boss or HR manager, here’s a letter explaining what it’s all about: Letter to businesses April 2017

I first offered this course in 2016. Engagement was successful and reviews were positive. It’s been a minute, but it’s back, still under the banner of Barbara Arrindell & Associates .

If you’re a working person in Antigua and Barbuda who wants to improve her/his written (and/or oral) communication skills, here’s where you start:

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To download registration form, right click above or download this: BA & A registration both 2017

 

BIM LIT FEST: IN PICTURES

BLF Poster 2016 03

Made my first trip to the every-other-yearly BIM Lit Fest and Book Fair in Barbados; taking place in Bridgetown – a city that still has the kind of unique architectural character I’d like to see more Caribbean countries, including my own, maintain. I got to see some of that character during a unique literary bus tour on the Saturday of the festival – while the children’s part of the book fair which kicked off with a Carnival complete with dancing, drumming, Anansi, and a stilt walker carried on in Independence Square. The literary bus tour around 350-year old World Heritage site Bridgetown city was a mix of historical stops such as the residences of literary luminaries Kamau Braithwaite and Frank Collymore and literary readings along the paths that inspired the literature being read. Really interesting; what stops would such a tour include in Antigua do you think – is Jamaica Kincaid’s childhood residence preserved? The bus tour and children’s fair was only a small part of a busy few days – that also included unplanned diversions like a morning stroll along the Richard Haynes Boardwalk. There were readings and more readings (or as they called them BIMrock Variations), a master class (led by Olive Senior), panels (including the likes of  Selma James, widow of CLR James and an activist in her own right), and workshops (I co-facilitated one on Memory and Fiction with Bernice McFadden, a renowned American writer with Bajan roots) and Jamaicans poet laureate Mervyn Morris and poet extraordinare Tanya Shirley, and more including the welcome reception at Sandals and the opening event at the PM’s official residence where celebrated and award winning Bajan author Paule Marshall’s son accepted a lifetime achievement award on her behalf. That’s just the tip of an ice berg of author and author events that included Karen Lord, A-dZiko Simba Gegele, Eintou Springer, Celeste St. Hill, Russell Watson, Esther Phillips, Robert Sandiford, Lynn Joseph, Hazel Simmons-McDonald, Heather Barker, Shivanee Ramlochan, Katherine Tafari, Adrian Greene, Christine Barrow, and event team members like Racquel Griffith, Theo Williams, and Linda Deane.

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I first read Paule Marshall in university – the book Praisesong for the Widow. In the years since, I’ve read Daughters and Browngirl Brownstones. I was looking forward to meet Marshall but she didn’t make it. Her son accepted the award from the Barbados PM on her behalf.

mervyn me

Mervyn Morris is the Poet Laureate of Jamaica. Back in the early to mid 90s, he was mentor to me during my time at the University of the West Indies, also instructor in my first fiction writing class. He recommended me for the University of Miami’s Caribbean Fiction Writers Summer Institute, facilitated by Olive Senior who told me on this trip to BIM that he told her then that I was going to be a writer. I appreciate the faith and I’m happy every time I get to run in to him. Here we are at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Barbados at the BIM Lit Fest and Book Fair.

Olive selfie

Selfie at Sandals during BIM Lit Fest with Olive Senior – recent winner of the Bocas prize for literature, past Commonwealth Book Prize winner, and former mentor.

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Ms. Senior added a note when she shared it on her social media.

sandals

Writers in Barbados for the 2016 BIM Lit Fest. The highlight of the night for me was catching up with Olive Senior, standing in front of me, that’s me in the back (my mom’s already chastised me for always seeking the back during a photo call). This was the first evening’s reception at Sandals where everything was lovely and everyone was new. I would get to know some of these people better over the next few days, beginning this night with talk of lemonade (hey, Bernice) and other historical, political, topical things.

 

Bernice McFadden

I love this photo. Me with two amazing writers. African American writer Bernice McFadden, centre. Currently reading her book Sugar and after hearing her reading on the final night of the BIM Festival at the Waterfront Café already eager to read more. Far right, Jamaican A-dZiko Simba Gegele with whom I feel forever bonded by our experience of being the first Burt Award finalists for the Caribbean in 2014 (she won!). Was good to catch up with her again (real talk). And if you haven’t read her book All Over Again yet, what are you waiting for?

 

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Each guest writer was required/requested to gift the PM with a copy of their book/s. This is A-dZiko Gegele of Jamaica giving All Over Again. I gave Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings.

 

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All guest writers (back row Cecil Foster, Bernice McFadden, Mervyn Morris; middle, Mrs. Foster and Esther Phillips; front Olive Senior, A-dZiko Gegele, Selma James, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Tanya Shirley, and Evan Marshall (son of lifetime achievement awardee Paule Marshall). We were melting (Barbados hot no wah!) but it doesn’t show …right?

 

with poster

It’s not every day you get to take a picture with a poster of yourself. Couldn’t resist. Wish I could have brought this home. #gyalfromOttosAntigua

Shakirah

Met Shakirah (Shakirah) on my trip to BIM – actually that’s Shakirah Bourne, playwright, short story writer, and screenwriter/filmmaker extraordinaire. We’ve been facebook friends for a minute; great to finally meet her and to finally get my hands on a copy of her book In Time of Need. Look forward to reading it. P.S. I’ve written about Shakirah’s writing before: check my series, ‘The Short of It’, on this site.

 

feedback BIM workshop

Participant review re my two-hour workshop bloc with Bernice McFadden – we took different approaches to our exploration of memory and fiction but it all came together.

 

No pictures as yet from my reading or the workshop. Will share if and when I get. NO more words; I promised this was a picture post. Well, just two more: THANK YOU.

To Appearances Page.

New Venture – Writing is Your Business

Barbara Arrindell & Associates has been running a series of public speaking courses. BAAAWhile doing a critique of her new website, it occurred to me that I had something to offer in a related area of communications training: written communications. I pitched it to her and she agreed, and we’ll be running parallel and complementary courses beginning April 19th 2016.

Usually, my workshops focus on creative writing

Workshop 2

CODE workshop on writing for the teen/young adult market.

but I do have experience teaching communications at the advanced level and creating content for a variety of clientele. This workshop will draw on that experience.

This is not the first time I’ve thought of this. I have considered and proposed in the past, for instance, that entrepreneurs and staffers alike in Antigua and Barbuda would benefit from a writing course that would empower them to create content to better market their business, product, or services. Internal memos, letters to project partners, company websites and blogs, newsletters, reports, media releases, reports, product descriptions, company profiles, and more are all things I’ve had to either write or edit for clients – some of which they could be empowered to do for themselves. There are still things for which they would need to hire a professional but there is no doubt that, if staff or small business owners, can create their own content it could save them money, long term, and increase their effectiveness.

It’s about building confidence with language, it’s about removing the intimidation factor  by doing and discovering that words are really not that scary.

As with some of my other ideas, it’s a matter of finding the right time to attract a receptive cadre of students – and forward thinking employers and entrepreneurs. Now is the time.
Are you receptive?

THE BENEFITS TO YOU are
Increased confidence and skill expressing yourself using the written word (from organizing your ideas to writing and editing business documents)
A professional, reader-friendly writing style
A skill-set which includes being able to edit your own and others’ business writing
Improved marketability
Heightened value in your business
Increased efficiency re sharing content-communicating ideas

In short you will be learning to communicate more effectively via the written word.

I am thrilled to associate my brand with public speaking consultant Barbara Arrindell of Arrindell and Associates.

The feeling is mutual. Barbara Arrindell: “It is one thing to have a nice looking web site with great content, but it is another to have edited content free of errors. Ms. Hillhouse’s web page editing service transformed my good website  into a professional advertising tool that is easy to read and understand.”

Our goal: effective communication within and without the business setting.

“No matter your profession—whether you’re the CEO or the mail-room clerk—understanding how to write correctly is important, because proper writing demands proper grammar and punctuation. And if you understand how to write, you will inevitably improve your communication (both written and verbal). Having the ability to communicate your ideas and communicate them well is a sure ingredient for success in any field.” – Shala Marks, Back to the Basics

Details: Best of Books, St. Mary’s Street, Antigua. Once a week for four weeks, starting April 19th 2016.  Course fee is EC$150. Limited spots available so register early by submitting registration form for written communication to me and oral communication to Barbara Arrindell & Associates.

registration Pubic speaking
registration Written communication
New Courses Barbara Arrindell & Associates Official Letter

News and such

Just came across this notice about my panel at the Brooklyn Book Fair at Poets & Writers (trippy)

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More news re book end events at the Brooklyn Book Fair courtesy Caribbean Cultural Theatre via St. Lucia Online

Programming note: I’m told my books will be on sale at Powerhouse (Saint Ann’s, Brooklyn Historical Library, Brooklyn Historical Society) & I’ll also be with CaribbeanReads (Musical Youth’s publisher) at the Caribbean Cultural Theatre tent (Booth 121 – Korean War Memorial Plaza at Cadman Plaza West – Downtown Brooklyn, NY 11201).

…and the St. Croix Source has an announcement re the next edition of The Caribbean Writer (check it out)

A Series of Literary Connections

Doing some ‘housecleaning’ (lol…not literally…but clearing out some files so I can get to some priority files…or something…anyway) the picture below popped up and before filing it away I thought I’d share it and share a bit of the connections not immediately obvious from the image.

The picture was taken at the Antigua Conference held last week (don’t blame me if you missed it, I urged and urged folks to go here and other places…seriously, I was a nag about it). This was the conference’s 10th anniversary. I remember the first one was 10 years ago and from that moment there have been so many ripples of personal significance.

I delivered (or attempted) an academic paper at that conference (I don’t do academic papers but there you have it) and that paper on media in Antigua after the change of government that had ended the 28 year run by the previous party was subsequently published in the CLR James Journal (yeah, me…yay, me). At that year’s conference, Edgar Lake delivered a presentation on Antigua and Barbuda’s literary tradition that sparked in part what would become the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books. Paget Henry, professor and chair of Africana Studies at Brown University, with whom I’ve formed a friendship over these past 10 years (wow), has been the driving force behind both the Conference and the Review, on both points, and an advocate for the University of Antigua, unwavering and optimistic on all counts. He wants to fill the void in terms of national critical self-examination left by the passing of Leonard Tim Hector and, through both these projects, he continues to do just that, albeit that the audience is perhaps a bit more niche-y (by circumstance not by choice) than Hector’s popular Fan the Flame newspaper series. Incidentally, several of those Flames are re-published in the 2015 edition of the Review. Email Henry (paget_henry@brown.edu)to subscribe.

The conference has moved around over the years. This year, one of its locations was the Youth Enlightenment Academy at Lightfoot where I’ve held some of my writing workshops as of 2015 (more to come). The Academy is a project of Lawrence Jardine, working with Mali Olatunji to create a space beyond standardized test for engagement with young people in different ways (e.g. I write so I do literary projects, Mali is a photographer, aesthetician, and footballer so he engages in those ways etc.). There’s a Leonard Tim Hector lecture hall at the YEA campus – sidebar: Jardine is part of the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Committee, in 2014, I received the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Award…so many connections.

And so we come to the ones in the picture. Brenda Lee Browne, the one looking like she’s just back from vacation on the far left, is a writer and an event coordinator and worker known for her work with sporting events at home and way, way abroad. At this point, my overlaps with Brenda Lee are too numerous to mention – suffice to say, we support each others’ projects (which over the years have included the Independence Literary Arts Award, Wadadli Pen, Just Write Writers Retreat, her prison writing programme, the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project, and numerous other workshops and activities formal and informal too numerous to mention including performing in the first local staging of the Vagina Monologues by Women of Antigua), we’re both passionate about the literary arts, and donate way more time than we’re paid for in service to these passions and the inevitable social activism that comes with it, and we’re friends.

In the middle is Althea Romeo Mark. I didn’t make it to any other conference activity this year, but I made it to this panel and she was a big part of the reason why. Hers was the panel with Lake, and he was another good reason to be there – his sessions are always don’t miss. In the case of Althea, we’ve been ‘knowing’ each other online for a long minute – a few years now, we’ve reviewed each others books, published each other in literary journal projects, conversed back and forth on literary issues, and been a part of a literary community born of the fact that though resident in Switzerland, she is, like me, from Antigua. This was a homecoming of sorts for her as she hasn’t been back since about two years before I was born. Wow.

with Althea Romeo Mark and Brenda Lee Browne

So all of those things are mixed up in this picture – the where, the why, the when, the who…the how…well judging by my windswept hair and tired eyes, the how was, with some effort; judging by the smile, happy nonetheless that we were able to link up…however briefly.

Just a reminder

…that when I’m not working on my own writing, I write for others; and I also coach and offer workshops. Whatever your writing or editing needs, wherever you are, look me up. I have no doubt we can work something out. Follow the links from this page for information on my services and, If you think you can make use of them, hit the contact me button.

If you’re looking for information on how you can support and/or register for the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project, here you go.

About Anguilla

UPDATE! You have to understand that I love Essence so forgive me while I squeeeeeee!!! at this shout out in the magazine black women love to love.

… for me with this and every lit fest I’ve been blessed to participate in, it’s all about the quality of the experience: not just how many books sold, how many new readers snagged, how many new contacts bagged, how much did you narrow the chasm between where you are and where everyone insists you should/could be (and between both and where you actually want to be)… and all the pressure that comes with allahdat! poolside It’s for this reason that the best moments at the Anguilla Lit Fest – a Literary Jollification come/came for me when I released the pressure of expectation (maybe if you’d done this instead of that, what you should have done is this) and just allowed myself to be in the Moment. Sometimes that moment will find you chilling and chatting with someone you couldn’t quite work up the nerve to NETWORK with earlier. I love the Moment. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s that sweet spot where stilted conversation turns to real connection, or at least the possibility of it. The Anguilla Lit Fest provided the opportunity for such moments, particularly outside of the formal panels and presentations, which is why a highlight of my time on the beautiful island only a few hops up from my own beautiful island of Antigua, was what I’ve dubbed the after party. A day which was all about seeking that tranquility wrapped in blue of which the island boasts. I ended up on the beach (two beaches actually) sipping beer, dancing to interpretations of Bob and Jimmy, mento style, and chatting with this or that fellow lit-fester – with or without the requisite exchange of cards/contacts as moved by the mood and the Moment. Without the pressure of agenda, I feel sweet-tasting promise coming out of the Moment- that one and all such moments in the extended after-party; from the evening’s cocktail to the open mic that followed to the shared journey back to our respective lives. Anguilla wasn’t all one big after party, of course. My work at the festival, because they bring us authors there to work, began with a visit to the Edison Hughes Teachers Resource Centre and Anguilla Public Library where Annie Potts (you’ll remember her from Designing Women: Season 1, Ghostbusters / Ghostbusters II (4K-Mastered + Included Digibook) [Blu-ray], and other Hollywood fare), J. Ivy (author of Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain), Yona Deshommes (the woman in charge of publicity for a who’s who of high profile Strebor/Atria/Simon & Schuster authors), Phillip Arnell (whose 34 year book project is entitled Fortunate Member of a Caribbean Diaspora), and I talked with students gathered from the various schools on island about our journey as writers and shared excerpts from our work.

That’s me (second from left) with other presenters: Philip Arnell, Yona Deshommes, Annie Potts, J. Ivy, a library staff member and student.

A Grammy Award winning spoken word artiste, J. Ivy was the MVP of this session (and, from what I’ve heard, of his breakfast reading the following morning) with his fiery poetic presentation on his relationship with his father; and, as someone who’s learned since venturing into picture book writing that the balance between the profundity and simplicity of the poetry/story can be a delicate dance when writing for children, I quite liked Annie’s story – a picture book about a local boy the proceeds of which go right back into a local charity. As I mentioned in a post from the festival, I learned early o’clock that the secondary school students were very familiar with The Boy from Willow Bend as it is required reading in schools on the island. I also wanted to introduce them to my latest teen/YA book Musical Youth as well though, so when it came time for me to present, I divided my time between both. library 3 The festival began fully on Friday and though some of the scheduled authors didn’t make it, we were not short of notables. Zane (Addicted (Unrated)) was there – my first time meeting her (and Yona for that matter) though Oh Gad! is published with Strebor/Atria/Simon & Schuster. She did two sessions – one on writing and publishing, and one teasing her forthcoming book.  Benilde Little (Welcome to My Breakdown: A Memoir) was there, as was Elizabeth Nunez (Not for Everyday Use: A Memoir), and A Tender Struggle: Story of a Marriage author Krista Bremmer (all part of a panel on memoir writing – which actually clashed with my workshop with the kids so I didn’t catch it; hate when that happens). Nunez also did a lunch time session on the writing of her memoir and on her writing and publishing journey. Leigh Haber was there; that’s right O magazine books editor, Leigh Haber, and she along with Writer’s Digest Jessica Strawser, Yona, and House of Nehesi senior editor Dr. Rhoda Arrindell were part of a very enlightening panel on the state of publishing and in particular the appeal of hybrid publishing. Hint: “Hybrid authors on average make the most money,” – Jessica Strawser. Dr. Arrindell and I, along with Marilyn Hodge, host of Positive Living, with chair Rita Celestine-Carty, were part of a panel on voices from the page which included a discussion on the use of dialect in life and art. Some of the students who’d read Willow Bend were there and they were loaded with questions. Given the topic though, I decided when it came time to read to read from Oh Gad! – a scene which moves between different language registers. Now I don’t know the numbers, but I do know that some books were sold, some books were signed, and at least one reader told me the following day that she was feeling it (and I’m feeling that!)

Yona and I engage with next generation Anguillan writers.

Yona and I engage with next generation Anguillan writers.

After my panel, there was sustained engagement with the young readers (blogged about the young people already here)

...and some adults as well.

…and some adults as well.

and, as mentioned, I also did a session on writing workshop with the kids alongside Yona. As I re-learn every year with Wadadli Pen, the imagination, unhinged from what is right and polite knows no bounds. There is still a need for diversity in publishing, and in the publishing of children’s books in particular, something Yona alluded to as she encouraged these young ones to write and send her their stories – changing that begins in moments like this. Shout out to the entire Anguillan literary community for the big Welcome, and for sharing your verse and its inspirations – especially enjoyed learning more about the revolution I grew up hearing Antiguan calypsonian Short Shirt sing about. Shout out to Anguilla’s Tourism Director Candis A. Niles, committee member Stephanie Stokes-Oliver and her husband Reggie (and in fact the entire lit fest committee and the library services team) who made all of us feel so welcome, my host hotel Paradise Cove (Sherille Hughes and her team), which was the conference venue (accommodating sessions and lunch, poolside – no character-less conference rooms thank you very much), host of the opening reception. Actually we had a little something-something every night, first night at Cuisinart Golf Resort and Spa, second night at Government House, which hosted the launch of the House of Nehesi published Anguillan anthology ‘Where I see the Sun’, and then the Paradise Cove poolside dance party. The last night’s cocktail reception, meanwhile, was at Ultimacy, beautiful property, beautiful location.

...the after party.

…the after party. Ultimacy.

And here’s the thing I’ll add about Anguilla, as a tourism destination it feels like a time out from the normal hectic rhythms of the world, even when the world is another Caribbean island across the way, an illusion that begins the minute you’re speeding toward it, across the water, aboard Calypso Charters, from neighbouring St. Maarten. Thinking on it, a direct flight might have been more convenient, but the boat ride begins the process of acclimatizing you to the tranquility in blue. Loved it. Almost as much as I loved those bacon wrapped plantains. I took more notes (because I’m a nerd and we do that) and have other impressions, but this is running long so I’ll keep them for now…besides (puts on freelance hustle hat) I do have to hold some things back; you know, in case, I  manage to sell an article (or two or three) somewhere. Meanwhile, here’re links to some coverage re lit fest in the Anguillan & and more from the Anguillan: from the Anguillan (Note: the picture immediately above was pulled from the Anguillan lit fest photo gallery – hope they don’t mind; the sources of other pictures used throughout this post were all mailed to me and they are varied; the phones were a-flashing. There was new gal pal Audrey, the Anguilla Public Library, Barbara who’d flown over from Antigua for the event, and others – any omissions are not intentional)