Tag Archives: writing



Spreading the word re another writing and reading opportunity, an alternative to my own Jhohadli Writing Programme, this one via the Best of Books.

summer camp primary 2014 Best of Books Teen Writing Camp 2014

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Jhohadli Writing Project Set to Begin

I’m in the process of preparing for the first session of the Jhohadli Writing Project, successor to last year’s Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project. Unlike last year’s programme, which was a one week camp free to teen and tween participants thanks to generous donors recruited by me, the JWP is a week to week, one session per week, pay as you go creative writing programme for writers at various stages and levels or for people who simply need to boost their writing skills for some other purpose. My expectation is that it will continue beyond the summer as  long as there is interest. That it is not sponsored/free probably accounts for the comparatively low registration. But I plan to press on with this project and anticipate that it will grow as time goes on.

It begins the first Thursday in July, continuing weekly thereafter, with the ‘teen stream  - creative’ programme (as that is where the confirmed registrants have come from). As explained on my Jhohadli site,

“This is for anyone in the teen bracket; into being creative, interested in learning more about craft and open to receiving constructive feedback on works-in-progress. As we work together, participants will hopefully become stronger artistes, and more aware of the great art in and beyond their world.”

As the synopsis suggests, we’ll be looking to other works, Caribbean and non-Caribbean,  classic and modern literature and art for instruction and inspiration, and participants will be encouraged to read, observe, discover and write, and will engage in discussion and receive feedback and guidance.

If you or any young person you know could benefit from this kind of programme, you can contact me at any time at jhohadli@gmail.com for more information or to register.

Feedback from last year’s camp:

“It was truly a help to me and this experience inspired / encouraged me to continue writing as well as share my writing with others.”

“You helped me on my path to being a writer. Thank you so much and I’d like to return next year. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“I’ve been slacking off on my writing and this got me on track.”

“I gained a lot of tips in writing to make it more realistic.”

“I also got a lot of healthy criticism to better my writing skills.”

“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.”

“I definitely gained more confidence in my writing and extra knowledge on writing stories, books, etc.”

“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.”

“The activities we did were very helpful in developing writing, reading , observational skills and more.”

The Jhohadli Writing Project is a writing instruction and mentoring project spearheaded by Joanne C. Hillhouse, author of several books including The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad! Joanne is also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach, and workshop facilitator who operates out of Antigua and Barbuda but is not limited to Antigua and Barbuda in her interactions with clients or her literary ambitions for herself and others with talent, potential and a strong work ethic. Joanne is passionate about the literary arts and hopes to stir similar excitement and confidence when it comes to literary expression in programme participants.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

An Audience with Elaine Spires

Elaine seated, with copies of Singles Holiday, its sequel Sweet Lady, and first book What's Eating Me? laid out before her and from left, me, Marcella Andre and Barbara Arrindell standing alongside.

Elaine seated, with copies of Singles Holiday, its sequel Sweet Lady, and first book What’s Eating Me? laid out before her and from left, me, Nia Comms founder Marcella Andre and Best of Books manager Barbara Arrindell standing alongside.

“I think as a writer, that’s all you can hope for, that you brought something alive for somebody.” – Elaine Spires during a conversation with other writers and book lovers at an event Saturday 7th June 2014 at the Best of Books on St. Mary’s Street.

I think we got caught up, put bibliophiles in a room and say talk books and it be like that. Elaine is a Brit who began her relationship with Antigua as a tour guide for tourists from the UK and now has a home here. Write what you know…her stories explore that terrain. I look forward to reading the first of the Antigua series, Singles Holiday, but Elaine is already readying book three which she says will be out in November.

The discussion went to some interesting places, beyond plotting, characterization, writing techniques and strategies (particularly interesting to me, strategies for writing humour that feels unforced), reading habits, editing, and publishing, to the challenges of writing the Other without stereotyping and of writing fiction that draws from real life without being too literal. I don’t think Elaine anticipated quite so many questions though I believe she rightly took it as a sign that we were all engaged, and certainly handled them well. Her readings, meanwhile, hinted at the humor to be found in situations where you take people out of their natural habitat and let them wander around and bump into things for a while. It also hinted at the allure of Antigua.

Elaine is a patron of Wadadli Pen, her gift, one of time to the winning writer, time to review works in progress and offer advice and direction, a mentorship which assists in fulfilling the Wadadli Pen mandate of assisting with the development of the literary arts. This year’s winner, Asha Graham, has already benefited from her session with Elaine.

It’s been a busy few weeks in Antigua for Elaine who has spent her time here at work on her forthcoming short story collection and the pilot of a TV series based on characters first seen during stagings here of When a Woman Moans, Maisie and Em. She returns to England where she continues work on the adaptation of Singles Holiday for the stage.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad! – also a freelance writer, editor and writing coach and instructor). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Wadadli Pen “gave me a voice”

Wadadli Pen has been alive and kicking for 10 years. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the time and energy to put into it, and to know if the impact is worth the effort. The enthusiasm of past finalists – Lia Nicholson, Latisha Walker-Jacobs, and Angelica O’Donoghue – in taking on the role of media ambassadors, volunteering to assist with launching the Wadadli Pen 2014 Challenge at the start of January with  appearances on various TV and radio programmes, was reassuring in this regard. And then there’s this note from past finalist Liscia Lawrence. It gives not only reassurance …it made me smile, and tear up. I want to thank Liscia for sharing. Have a read and if you know any boy or girl with a story in their heart, perhaps locked so deep they might not even know it’s there or are perhaps too reticent to let it out, encourage them to write and submit. The deadline is January 31st 2014. Joanne C. Hillhouse, founder and coordinator of Wadadli Pen

By Liscia Lawrence, special to Wadadli Pen

Before the Wadadli pen, I would have never thought that anyone would be interested in anything I had to say, I mean who would want to listen to the ramblings of a little child. In growing up I was always reserved, a shy kid I’d say who preferred to be on the sidelines looking in. I always felt as if I didn’t fit into this world like no one understood me, the world was such a confusing place back then. I’ve always had a very active imagination but was too afraid to express myself meaning I kept everything bottled up inside to a point where I felt as if my head would explode. At one point my reality and fantasy worlds became intertwined, I was overwhelmed by something I did not understand – my own brain. For years my mind never came to a comma let alone a full stop. When I first heard of the competition I got really excited and I remember thinking “wow that sounds great I should enter” but then I thought what would I write about?, Out of the thousands of students who would enter the competition what made me or my story so special that anyone would want to read it? Through the encouragements of my past English teacher I entered my first piece anyway. With my expectations very low, imagine my surprise when I found out I had gotten honorable mention and there I was thinking that I didn’t have anything to share that was worth sharing. By the next year I had more confidence and I entered again with my short story entitled “Misinterpreted” where I placed third.  Wadadli pen opened the door to my creativity, it inspired me to let go of my fears and speak out, and most of all it helped me to channel all the energy I had by simply putting pen to paper giving something a narrative shape and in so doing I began to believe in the shape of my life again, in beginnings, and middles, and endings. Thing is I was on a fast track to self-destruction, and when your mind crumbles to dust everything you thought you knew suddenly becomes something to question.  You have to build reality up again. And the bricks we use to shape our realities are called words.  The Wadadli pen competition gave me the opportunity to use my words and in so doing build my confidence, eliminated my fears, it gave me a voice and a whole new meaning to life. The world is a confusing place. Books are our maps. Without the ability to write, I’d quickly find myself very lost indeed.

Liscia’s story Misinterpreted won her third place in 2005; read it here 

Liscia’s story The Day I saw Evil won her honourable mention in 2004; read it here 

This is the photo call in 2004, the first year of Wadadli Pen - that's Liscia, standing, second from left.

This is the photo call in 2004, the first year of Wadadli Pen – that’s Liscia, standing, second from left.

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Wadadli Pen 2014, Wadadli Pen News

Reading Room V

Like the title says, this is the fifth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Four came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.


The Nakedness of New by Althea Romeo Mark is a haunting piece about what it is to be a stranger in a strange land trying to find your footing. It gives one pause re their sense of feeling encroached upon by foreigners, non nationals, immigrants, whatever you want to call them. We are them sometimes when we find ourselves far from home:

‘A “foreigner” is dust in the eye
and many believe I have come
to plunder their treasures.’ Read more.


Paper Boats by Trisha Bora.


The Call by Danielle McShine.


Etiquette for Fine Young Cannibals by Simone Leid


Where Mine by Hal Greaves


De Poem’s Birth by Opal Palmer Adisa


What is a Poem? by Althea Romeo-Mark


A Creed by Kei Miller


Street Violence by Oscar Tantoco Serquiño Jr.


Sliver of Light by Sanjulo


A Testament to the Cycle of Truth by Martin Willitts


Chameleon Thoughts by Danielle Boodoo Fortune. Read more of her poems here.


Don’t exactly know how to categorize this but it’s beautiful and poetic to me.


Ernestia Fraser’s My Caribbean Mother is rich in imagery and symbolism that’s a feast to the senses. Read it here.


Gaulin Child by Helen Klonaris, director of the Bahamas Writers Summer Institute (I really need to do some more research on that, btw).


Barbara Jenkins has won prizes from Bocas and the Commonwealth; this - Something from Nothing - is one of her winning pieces.


A children’s story about growing up from a new and fun perspective @ Anansesem by Latoya Wakefield. A good bed time read-along.


In this clip, the first story Kincaid reads in the audio ‘Girl’ is one of the stories we read during the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing project. I don’t think it read on paper to them “a bit like a horror story” as suggested in the commentary supporting the video; rather I think they recognized it as being the somewhat familiar protective and proprietary tension in the relationship between Caribbean mothers and daughters, albeit heightened and from another time. Perspective is an interesting thing. I like to use it as an example that form is not written in stone (form can in fact be formless) and that characters and place can be clear as day without being plainly stated. The story is 90 percent monologue about 10 percent dialogue; I first read it in Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction and it is one of my favourite Kincaid stories.


2012 Commonwealth Short Story prize winners.


A bleak and sobering insight to life in a Haitian ghetto; Ghosts by Edwidge Dandicat.


A Fish-eye Country by Ashley Rousseau


Kei Miller’s eulogy for dub poetry that interestingly had me thinking of calypso. Perhaps you too will see the connection.


An interesting encounter stirs a discourse on language, arwe language in this blog posting by Dr. Carolyn Cooper.


Less than Great Expectations by M. J. Rose is one of those hard truths about the business articles for those of you thinking of being writers. It says, among other things:

There are the occasional meteoritic rises to success. Every year, of the 10000+ novelists who get published, there will be five debuts that make the list because they were anointed and the system worked.

Those five aren’t worth analyzing. They are the lottery winners – the five with just the right book and just the right agent at just the right time to just the right publisher who has just the right line up with just the right foresight to make it happen.

The list of authors to pay attention to and learn from are the other 99% on the bestseller list who got there after 5, 7, 10, or 18 books. Jodi Picoult became a bestseller with her 8th. Janet Evanovitch with the her 18th. Carol O’Connell, who is one of my favorite writers, made it with her 10th.

It’s a rare author who gets anointed right off the bat.

I’m four books in, seven if you count the ones I’ve co-authored…and those are some daunting figures; but I’ve never been picked for anything so I continue working hard, learning, growing, hardening myself to the realities, while holding on to the dreamy girl who loves to read and still wishes on a star.


Life opens up when you do by Rilys Adams (Wadadli Pen alum)


I’m sharing this not because of the poster of one of my favourite movies that accompanies the post but because it’s a process and affliction any writer can relate to – the war within.


I’m not an exhibitionist but I do love playing mas at Carnival; I see no contradiction. This blog post by Brenda Lee Browne explains it all.


A charming, engaging, and thought provoking read on the danger and impracticality of a single story. By my old Breadloaf roommate and author of Evening is the Whole Day Preeta Samarasan. True Stories.


Every writer needs an editor, Maria Murnane asserted at Shewrites.com and she’s not lying. And I’m not just saying that because I provide editing services.


Insert writers (and perhaps every other type of artiste where it says singers and musicians) and the LA Times’ David Ackert speaks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


I’m sharing this one because hearing that someone wrote a great novel in six months or two weeks, landed an agent on the first try, and licensed film rights and re-publications in various languages before the book was even on the shelves can get discouraging. The truth for most writers can be a lot more bleak; but as my mother is always saying nothing happen before it’s time…yeah that and wha fu you is fu you. Anyway, read Randy Sue Meyers’ journey to literary success. It’s a reality check…but oddly encouraging.

This is one of my pieces, an article I did for Bookbird about Wadadli Pen.


This was a blog posting that caught my eye. It’s about the business of promoting your book (a business I’m still trying to master). Have a read.


“An alarm clock or a ringing telephone will dispel a new character; answering the call will erase a chapter from the world.” Isn’t that the truth? Try getting people to understand that though. In this article on writing, African American author makes a strong case for exercising discipline and prioritizing writing the way we do other things that matter in our life. But he makes clear it’s not about word count but about keeping the world of the story alive by engaging with it every day…as it can become like mist with time.


This article is about how Reagan K. Reynolds, a self-described “a white American in my early twenties, raised in a privileged home where education was never considered an interference of cultural ethics but a foundation for them”, engaged with the writing of Antigua and Barbuda’s own Jamaica Kincaid. She said, among other things: “Kincaid uses her pen to reach over and poke at my own social constructs built within the boundaries of gender, race, occupation and education. The floor beneath who I think I am and who I think others are comes apart in an earthquake of literary moments. These moments exist because authors like Kincaid are brave enough to create them…I have become addicted to the uncomfortable sensation that occurs when discovering a perspective that is unlike my own.”


Preeta Samarasan is the author of Evening is the Whole Day. She was also my roommate at the Breadloaf Writers Conference in 2008. Needless to say, I’m a fan of her writing and this particular piece is both touching and thought provoking. Also it makes me think about how I obsessed about main character Nikki’s eye colour in Oh Gad! – it was a tie to her father, to her sister – but as expected though I knew children, black or, I suppose, mixed children, with just that shade, and did the research just to be sure, some have questioned it, the probability of a black or even a mixed race woman having that eye colour. As Preeta said, though, discussing her daughter’s blue eyes, it can be complex and assumptions can be far off base especially when the person doesn’t really take the time to observe.


Thinking of publishing? Anthony Horowitz asks a thought provoking question you may want to consider first.


Garfield Ellis’ testimonial is the stuff inspiration is made of.


Bahamas-centric but Ian Gregory Strachan’s Columbus’s Ghost:Tourism, Art and National Identity in the Bahamas is an interesting read on tourism’s impact on Caribbean arts. Example: “Governments even attempt to take carnivals and other folk festivals, which have historically been sites of grassroots cultural resistance and commodify them as sources of exotic entertainment for the tourist. And when they are not producing the exotic, the natives are cultivating a colonial past that adds to the visitors’ sense of a quaint island atmosphere. They are keeping alive the Royal Police Marching Band, and preserving the plantation Great Houses. Private concerns occasionally purchase such relics of slavery and turn them into inns for tourists. Seventeenth-and eighteenth- century forts are refurbished and the exploits of long dead pirates are heralded.” It makes the point that the omnipresence of tourism is such that it begins to shape the creative imagination: “So pervasive and overpowering an industry must, through its physical presence, economic presence, social presence, and media presence, impose itself on the imaginations of Bahamians, impose itself in such a way that it begins to influence how Bahamians imagine themselves, how Bahamians imagine the landscape of their country, their community, and their world.” Like I said, interesting.


Reasons why you should not become a writer and signs that you already are in this Matt Haig article, Why You Should Write.


I wasn’t sure where to place this but I figure here’s as good a place as any and something all of us writers need to hear at some point. It’s about Processing Feedback.


I’m sharing this not because I’ve read this poet (I haven’t, yet, at this writing) but because I really enjoyed some of her responses, specifically:

I started trying maybe 1988 or so, started calling it poetry around 1990, then tried to write poetry a few years later, but really started writing poetry about 2000. And I say that because that’s when I started to understand my obligation to the craft…

“It’s difficult, not just because I’d like to do more writing, but because one intrudes on the other… a sort of identity disorder. I am beginning to resent this world and all its demands. It has no patience for reading and writing. It pulls at you…

“Just before the printing of it, I looked at the collection and couldn’t find one thing worth reading. It was all horrible compared to what I’m currently writing. Now post publishing, the opposite has happened: I adore them all and everything I write now can’t possibly be as good. I’m sure it’s a conceit! I’m waiting on the scales to lift from my eyes, to be balanced again…

“I have all sorts of great expectations and dread! I’m sometimes afraid of myself. Do people profit from receiving their hearts desire? Are they better off? Will it help or hurt my estimation of my work? Do I deserve it? I am a vat of questions. But all this is accompanied by a resounding sense of life being purposeful! Of being smiled on…”

These responses are from Jamaican poet Millicent Graham in an interview at Yard Edge.



Catherine Bain and Gayle Gonsalves talk In the Black.


Sharon Millar is a Small Axe and Commonwealth winning short fiction writer and this ARC interview reveals why. Some of us can only wish we could express so completely and incisively how our stories are born and grow into what they become, what their signatures are and where they fit into the canon. A really interesting read.


Proust questionnaire answers from Mansa Trotman, daughter of well known Antiguan writer Althea Prince and a poet in her own right.


Interview with dynamic and innovative Bajan artist Sheena Rose.


This is a story we should know (yet another indignity in the history of African people). I’m putting it here because the posting includes a film (a cringe worthy depiction of a cringe worthy but all too real episode in the intersecting narratives of African and European people); the story  of the so-called “Hottentot Venus”. Her name was Sara Baartman. Here is her story.


This is another one of those not quite sure where it fits things but since it’s a video interview (see, it could have been interview), I’ll add it here. It’s a little known fact that Spartacus was one of my TV addictions while it lasted. The New Zealand born actor in this vid was an actor on that show, one of my favourite characters as a matter of fact. But this isn’t about that. What appeals to me about this vid (actually a single story broken up into about three vids) is the reminder of how important the arts (and a good teacher) can be in changing a young person’s life. Here’s Part 1, Part 3, and my favourite, Part 2:

“Choices…making the right choices.”


sectionscene from Fish Outta Water by Zavian Archibald. Love her art work.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Workshop

What if?

So a publication asked me to submit a piece on writing tailored to kids to coincide with the release of Fish Outta Water. I was stumped but decided to give it a go. Just as I was submitting it, though, they said, never mind. Seems I’d missed the deadline I hadn’t been informed about. Needless to say I was pissed because time is not something I have a lot of; but then I remembered I have this blog for sharing things like this (and hadn’t had time to blog all week). So I won’t count it as time wasted but as the blog I didn’t know I was going to write. And you know what’d be really cool: if kids, especially kids 10 and younger, responded with their own response to the what if prompt in the comments section below.

How to Write Your Own Adventure

What if? …

That question can send the imagination on an exciting adventure.

What if an Arctic seal got lost in the Caribbean?

That’s the question that jump started my new book Fish Outta Water.


In the real world, we learned that this is not such a far-fetched what if when Wadadli, the Arctic seal, was helped home by scientists after somehow ending up in our waters.

But what if the stranded seal had been befriended by a creature from the Caribbean Sea? What kind of creature would that be? Would it be friendly? Would it help the stranded seal find his way home? What kind of adventures would they have?

For each question, I imagined answers until the world of the story was filled with characters; and how the seal got lost to how he got home became the challenge driving the plot, as surely as the growing friendship between the adventurous twosome.

As for the world of the story, before the illustrator (Zavian Archibald) could draw it, I had to imagine it. I refreshed memories of being on or under the water with online images of our vibrant Caribbean underwater life and the creatures that inhabit it. Plus, I found inspiration in unexpected places, like watching the sway of grass in a brisk breeze as I tried to write the fluid world of the sea.

Because it’s the world of your imagination, you can bend the rules. So yes, the seal and other sea creatures in Fish Outta Water do talk, just like Nemo.

As for how it feels to be lost, to make new friends or to go on adventures, I have only to search my own experiences; and use the echo of those emotions to imagine how the characters might feel.

Of course, in the story, the adventure eventually comes to an end. To find out if the seal who daydreams of dolphins finds his way home, you’ll have to read the story; I don’t want to spoil it for you.

But, know this, you too can write your stories; your story can take anything on any kind of adventure. You only have to ask yourself, what if?


Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS

Aaah so

grammerlySaw this on Facebook today …some of my greatest hits of pet peeves are in there. Misuse of affect/effect and your/you’re can turn me off of a story in a minute. And “could of”?!? Seriously?

I know, of course, that perfection does not exist but proofing and editing do.

Full disclosure, here’s one of my grammar faux pas. I almost always have to look it up …but that’s the point, I look it up.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Workshop

On writing dialogue

I’m not one for hard and fast rules (always, never…please!) but there are some good dialogue tips here

You know that part in your favourite show, usually the first 15 minutes or so, where characters are talking but they ain’t saying nothing (new) i.e. background and contextual overload in dialogue form …that’s what I think of when I read rule 1: Never use dialogue as an information dump (See what I mean about always, never… sometimes you’ve got to give a little something something through the dialogue …the trick is to keep it conversational).

My time as a reporter (where it’s all he said, she said with the occasional rebellion to something more descriptive) more than anything has taught me as much as possible to beware dialogue tags that get in the way of the actual dialogue which is rule 2: Use simple dialogue tags.

Having the characters do instead of or while talking is a good idea as well since that’s what we do in real life – see, I’m thinking and typing and listening to music all at once. Knew show don’t tell was gonna work its way in here some where. So, use the moments, reveal the characters, create forward movement, slow things down or speed them up, use the moments; rule 3: Use dialogue beats to help with story pacing and to convey information or emotion.

But it’s so pretty…. rule 4: Remember that often less is more.

Rule number 5 is Be careful when writing dialect.  Ok, here’s the thing, I try to write the characters’ voices as I hear them (not literally…exactly). In editing I read the dialogue out loud to hear it (for real this time). As the review process gets going I may nip and tuck here and there so that they still sound like themselves but can be understood…it’s not a science with me…but so far it works.

Read the whole article

I think my dialogue note, if I have one, is I don’t try to create my characters, I try to get to know them and be true to them in the telling. How they speak is a part of that. I am ever a student of this craft but reader response suggests I get it right (some of the time):

“… nicely managed dialogue that captures personality and mood.”

“The dialect is wonderfully written and rolls off the mental tongue while reading it.”

“I find myself caught up again in the complexity of the characters, in a fascination with a world with layers of languages I hardly know, with its sense of community.”

 “Even though the dialect wasn’t something I was used to at the end of the book, I felt that I could go to Antigua and carry on a conversation with the best of them.”

“The characters are so vivid, that I got this idea that when I will visit Antigua, I will meet them in the streets.”

*WARNING*Shameless plug alert* All reader reviews refer to my book Oh Gad! About which you can read more, here.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Links We Love, Workshop

Closed for Carnival

..not us but as a visiting writer from the US anxious to get involved in the local literary scene recently discovered, everything kind of stops for summer and Carnival in Antigua and Barbuda. Notably Expressions is on hold (not sure of the return date but sometime in September no doubt); and the Best of Books Wadadli Pen Open Mic is on hold until September 14th. Even the Cushion Club is on break. As I told our literary traveler, the next summer spark that I’m aware of literarily is the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project. That’s my baby. My second baby after Wadadli Pen (don’t get jealous, Wadadli Pen). Jhohadli is me (that’s a pen name of mine bestowed on me by a Trini-block-mate during my UWI days and happily claimed by me as my literary alter ego (so no stealing); Summer is when it is (specifically August 12th to 16th); Youth is who it’s targeting (I can confirm 10 successful applicants between the ages of 8 and19; with  four others still to be confirmed); Writing (that’s what it’s about; we’ll be reading and writing and exploring to feed the writing because it’s a hungry beast); Project (I call it a project because that’s what it became when I decided to take it from the idea phase. And the idea grew out of this urge to do more than an annual challenge but needing to find a way to make it self sustaining and targeted at those who need and want it whether they have the money to access it or not).

As I wrote in another post APUA does not accept thank yous and as a working writer I had to find a way to cover my time and material costs, so I asked several businesses to sponsor tuition for participants. Those who agreed to do so are:

Brenda Lee Browne
Townhouse Mega Store
Caribbean Water Treatment
Dr. Jillia Bird (couldn’t find a link to her business so this is a link to her major activist cause)
Shirley Heights Lookout

with the Best of Books, Koren Norton, Silston’s Library, and St. John Cooperative Credit Union kicking in support as well.

I am happy with the response though I have more participants than sponsors. I had some rough patches, some misunderstandings, some bad feelings, some I don’t need this @#$&! moments but I also enjoyed receiving the application letters and preparing the programme of activities. So I’m doing this, and hoping for the best and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the applicants…

Snippets from some JSYWP application letters, pulled at random

“I’ve always desired to be tutored and mentored by a published author and the fact that you are an local author makes it much more appealing.”

“When I write I write from my heart. I express the way I feel, think and my emotion spills over into my writing.”

“My other hobbies are drawing, writing stories and I am now working on a comic …hoping it would become a cartoon one day.”

“I want to learn more about the art of writing so that my compositions can improve.”

“This opportunity will give me the chance to take my writing to another level and put to paper the many thoughts that constantly invade my imagination.”

“In my spare time, I enjoy reading books by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Lemony Snicket. I enjoy reading books in general.”

“I am a thirteen year old Antiguan poet.  I have been writing poetry for a year and a half… In my spare time I like to read mystery books.”

“I have never attended a workshop like this and I am not sure what to expect.  One of my favorite things to do to pass time is read.”

“When I first began to write, my poems were scribbles at the back of all my school exercise books.”

“I am extremely interested in taking part in the jhohadli summer youth writing project, as I am very passionate about creative writing…”

“The thrill that I get when a new idea pops into my head coupled with my vigorous imagination are key factors that I believe that such a programme like this could benefit me tremendously.”

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus


So, I thought I’d share some of the feedback to the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge 2013 season. In part because I hope it’ll continue to spark interest among other young writers still hiding their light under a bushel, potential patrons, media and the general public (and I hope that interest will translate into more support for the programme). In part, because I just want to take a moment to celebrate another successful year of pulling this off against the odds. Thanks to all patrons, partners, and well wishers; thanks especially to our young writers, FOR DARING (it’s not easy putting your work out there as all of us who’ve ever written a word and submitted it somewhere or even asked someone for feedback know all too well). So go read the stories, okay?

Okay, comments, here goes…

Comments VIA EMAIL (scrubbed of identification markers, I hope):

From the mom of one of our younger finalists:

“(My daughter) would like to thank the sponsors who donated her gifts and rest assured she will be reading them.  She has almost finished reading Trapped (in) Dunston’s Cave. She is all fired up and is already working on two pieces for next year.”


From one of the teachers:

“I really wanted to say thank you for affording my students and me the opportunity to share our stories and drawings. We will definitely by looking out for the next WADADLI PEN COMPETITION …Now that I’m exposed to what is expected (the stories that won were awesome!!!) I will definitely have to put in some extra work!! Awesome job!! You are a role model to aspiring writers. Shine on!!”

From one of the finalists:

“Just want to let you know that I think that the Wadadli Pen Prize is a great initiative and hope to see it continue!”


Left to right, overall winner Asha Challenger, third placed Zuri Holder, and second placed Daryl George.

Left to right, overall winner Asha Challenger, third placed Zuri Holder, and second placed Daryl George.



One teacher said:

“Congrats to Joanne C. Hillhouse and Barbara Arrindell (of the Best of Books) for keeping reading alive, and more importantly, for encouraging our young people to tell our own stories.”


Comment re St. John’s Catholic Primary’s win of US$500 worth of books from Hands across the Sea as the primary school with the most submissions:

“I am so proud to be a part of this school family. Blessings!!!”

“Congrats to my Primary School, I am so proud.”


To the overall winners:

“Education is power, keep up the good work; you guys are our future. I like what I see.”

Re winning story Asha Graham’s Revelations Tonight:

“I really enjoyed this… the scenery was amazing!”

Excerpts from reader comments AT CARIB ARENA:

“ Really like ‘Ceramic Blues’….we really need to come to terms with things and hypocrites in our midst. The story must be told!”


“Great to see this competition for our island’s young people. Congratulations to all winners! Keep up the great work, Joanne Hillhouse and others!”

Me, with the youngest of the 2013 Wadadli Pen finalists - art and lit. (Photo courtesy Antigua Chronicle)

Me, with the youngest of the 2013 Wadadli Pen finalists – art and lit. (Photo courtesy Antigua Chronicle)


“The Wadadli Pen Challenge is the ONLY serious story competition for the young people of A&B. It deserves far more support, from both the private and government sectors.”


“CONGRATULATIONS to all……keep working on the next chapter because ‘until the Lion tells (writes) his story it will always be told (written) by the hunter’. We’ve already heard a million hunter stories. It is a crying shame that this project, ‘The Wadadli Pen Challenge’ does not get the public support it deserves.”

Comments right here ON WADADLI PEN:

“Giant congratulations to ALL………….keep on taking it to the next chapter.”

“Keep Writing and a big Congrats to all the writers and winners this year.”

“Congratulations on a very timely story Mr. George, one need not be a rocket scientist “to get it”. I hope it gets read by more than just the “usual suspects”…………………….”

FINAL THOUGHT: Okay so for the first time, I think, I’ve left the comment section beneath the stories open. In the past, I felt very protective of the writers because of their ages and so closed the stories off to comments. But you know what, feedback is part of the writing life, so feel free to comment; but be constructive – abusive statements will be deleted.

Thanks for reading…and thanks to Antigua Chronicle for permitting the use of their photos.

Leave a comment

Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Literary Gallery, Wadadli Pen 2013, Wadadli Pen News