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Editors are Essential

By Caitlin Kelly Although you might not assume so, this post has been multiply edited, if only by me — albeit a career journalist, writing teacher and writing coach. (Here’s my professional website, if of interest.) The point of a real live human editor is to have someone smart do this to your copy […]

via Why editors matter more than ever — Broadside


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A literary agent, per Wikipedia, is “an agent who represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers, film producers and film studios, and assists in the sale and deal negotiation of the same.”

A little while ago, I came across an article on Poets & Writers entitled We Mean Business: Twelve Literary Agents Who Want to Read Your Work. Thought I’d pass it on. Here’s the link.

Also, don’t forget to check the Opportunities and Opportunities Too page and go for yours. Also the Resources page for links to navigating writing and publishing.

Good luck.

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The Short Story: an Opportunity to Experiment and Dare

‘Just as Steadroy finish mek up he bed under de Big Head, smadee call he name. He freeze … “Papa?” … … … he shiver, looking up de nose-hole of the stone statue, before turning pan he side and resettling heself. De plastic flower an’ dem wha dem lay last Labour Day rustle when he shif’, but after dat, dead silence.

Smadee call he name again.

He tun back pan he back; stare hard pan Papa stone lip an’ dem, looking for even a quiver … … … he choops to heself. Only picknee believe in jumbie. Dead na speak an’ Papa dead long time.’

Excerpt Papa Jumbie by Joanne C. Hillhouse, published in Akashic Books’ Duppy Thursday series


This is an online series and I submitted to it really just for so. As with when I submitted The Cat has Claws to Akashic’s Mondays are Murder (noir) series, I approached it as a writing exercise – a prompt if you will. It was an opportunity to experiment with genres I had never tackled before, noir, and a jumbie/ghost story. While this wasn’t my first attempt at a ghost story, it provided other challenges – one, writing the anti-ghost ghost story (i.e. a ghost story that maybe sort of wasn’t); two, writing the entire story in the Antiguan vernacular(narrative and dialogue both – not that I’m the first to do this but as I typically use English for the narration even when the dialogue is some variation of our Caribbean creole/s, a first for me, I think); third, submit it to a non-Caribbean market. My beta reader (the writer I asked to give me some feedback on it before I revised and submitted) said that while she liked it she wondered if it would be understood and accepted by an editor not steeped in the culture. Only one way to find out. Either it would be rejected, or accepted with edits proposed to make it more crossover, or accepted as is. It was accepted as is, pretty much; they said there would be minor edits but I don’t notice any discernable difference from what I submitted. And the reader response has been positive.

Of course, Akashic, a Brooklyn based independent press, is well familiar with Caribbean authors as it’s published a fair amount of them before, including several of us from various countries in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean.  So you could argue it had an ear already tuned to our various Caribbean accents. Still. I’m going to count this experiment as a win. Of course, I counted it as a win before it was accepted anywhere; as with each key tap I continue to claim the validity of my voice as an Antiguan writer. Can you hear us without us having to iron out our tongue? Maybe you can, maybe you can’t; but should it inform how we write (and if you say, yes, if you want to publish, well, how much). I believe in being true to the piece I’m writing (to my characters especially but also place) so it doesn’t consciously inform how I write. But, in playing with this piece in particular, I did want to consciously erase that divide between the colourful character voice and the more neutral narrator voice, and twist up my tongue little more, as in my poem Tongue Twista. Mission accomplished.

Another reason it was a win before it was accepted is because there is a certain victory in submitting because #facts writers receive more rejections than acceptances; so you submit knowing you face the crushing blow of rejection. “Crushing blow” is not hyperbole by the way; it’s like swinging a demolition ball and waiting for it to swing back in your direction. When rejection hits, it hurts. Hurts bad. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing this. But if you want to be a writer publishing, you don’t let that stop you. You meet the challenge and you work to get better.

But what’s the point of submitting short stories to what may or may not be a paying market? Pay is vital (to living) and it does largely inform, especially these days, where I’ll submit, but it’s not why I write nor the only reason I submit. As I said when I posted and as I continuously add to the Opportunities and Opportunities Too, do your due diligence, decide for yourself why you’re submitting and if the market (for whatever reason) is worth it …to you. Only you can decide that, but this article (Don’t Fall Prey to Publishing Scams: 7 New Writer Mistakes to Avoid), underscores that for those who want to write, it’s good practice to try your hand at shorter pieces…and submitting: “Getting your work vetted by contest judges and journal editors gives you the credibility you need to get a legitimate traditional contract or a successful self-publishing career. Don’t spend years writing a novel and then expect it to make a big splash. Start small and build your portfolio and reputation. That’s the way other ‘overnight sensations’ actually did it.”

I write short stories because I enjoy it. Even though I’ve published several books. And especially when the work on longer pieces is dragging. Because it means I’m still writing. I submit because I want to – for reasons as varied as getting paid, cracking new markets, and challenging myself. I research and for my own reasons submit. My research is part of what allows me to continue sharing market information on Wadadli Pen, but it’s primarily researched for my own purposes. I am happy to share the market information and other resources because doing so takes nothing away from me and adds to the growth of our literary community.

And so I suppose the moral of this story is continue to challenge yourself, experiment, and submit – because then even if you receive a rejection, there’s a win already in the daring.

p.s. Here are some links to Antiguan and Barbudan writers who have dared:
A & B Writing in Journals and Contests (A – M)
A & B Writing in Journals and Contests (N – Z)

p.p.s. make use of the links in this post – click and read; I didn’t put them there just for style.

As with all content on, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, Oh Gad!,With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). 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, my books, and my freelance writing-editing-coaching-workshop services. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Cushion Club Back in Session

The Cushion Club reading club for children in Antigua is back in session.

It meets Saturdays between 10:30 a.m. and 12 noon, at the University of the West Indies Open Campus (Antigua and Barbuda). Children on island from Barbuda are invited to come out as well.

Anyone can come (including adult volunteers). There is no fee. No special books are required. Age range, let’s say 5 and up (though some younger ones are accepted as well, depending on level of independence).

For more on the Cushion Club, go here.


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From the Mailbox – Concerning Barbuda

Ben Rainey contacted me shortly after the passage of hurricane Irma and its decimation of Barbuda. He wanted to do something; a feeling all of us can relate to at this time – especially factoring how many of our neighbouring islands and countries have been hit between Irma and Maria (and the conflicting feelings of urgency and helplessness this can induce). As a related sidebar: remember this post linking ways you can help Barbuda and others affected this hurricane season (another sidebar: let us as Antiguans extend continued compassion to the people of Barbuda, empathy, and our ears and support re their future and the history and future of their land). Okay, sidebars over; back to Ben and the initiative he has taken to help our sibling island. After some back and forth with Ben, I decided to share it here because of its arts-driven nature (given that Wadadli Pen is and remains a community-focused arts project, here to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda…and on this occasion an opportunity for the literary arts to step up and help Antigua and Barbuda). Read on.

Ben Rainey

Ben Rainey.


From Ben Rainey:

‘A humanitarian crisis’ – so PM Gaston Browne has said is developing in Antigua, with the entire population of Barbuda forced to seek refuge on the larger island. The prime minister’s rhetoric has become increasingly fiery over the weeks since the hurricane (hurricane Irma), as he travels from the UN (United Nations) to music festivals in the USA, seeking to raise both funds and awareness. Climate change is real, and needs to remain at the very top of the agenda.

The authoring of crises to serve the wealthy is already endemic in the Caribbean. Structural adjustment programmes, such as those offered by the IMF and World Bank, are often predicated on debt crises themselves originally manufactured by the same organizations – hence PM Browne’s heartfelt plea to the UN. Barbuda, however, represents a real challenge to the consensus of debt-as-freedom – an island which is one of the longest running modern projects in genuine mutual aid and common ownership in the world, and not to mention a pioneer in climate change research, given the Blue Halo initiative and all it represents. To allow these achievements and insights to be overwritten for the sake of quick dollar would be a grave mistake and a travesty.

If there is anything we can do from London to effect and help the people of Barbuda with preserving what they have, with not losing it to prospectors and investors, then we owe it to them. To that end we are starting a journal, ‘Reef’, aiming to feature poets, writers and thinkers from both the Caribbean and London – of the diaspora and beyond. Barbuda needs the solidarity of all who refuse to consent to erasing the future, and who believe in the power of poetry, art and words to effect change. If you would like to submit any poetry, writing or thoughts, please send them to:

As this is a grassroots effort we are aiming to keep overheads minimal, and will be printing on Risograph; so a few guidelines:

● 300 words max for poetry/500 for prose
● Feel free to submit multiples, but we may only be able to accept one piece per writer
● First rights are unimportant, we welcome poems previously published
● We cannot offer payment, but will provide all contributors with a subscription to the journal as it develops
● Deadline October 5th.

We’ll also be having a promotional night in Clapton, north-east London on the 6th of October, to present the project and more importantly show our support for the preservation of Barbudan life for the Barbudan people. Poems submitted to the journal will be read out on the night.

Pending investigation, all profits from both of these efforts will be sent directly to the Waitt Institute’s Barbuda fund – you can find details, as well as a full transparency statement, at:

Please join us – to speak, sing, dance and most of all shout our support for those who have lost their homes and who we will not allow to also lose their way of life.


About Ben Rainey: Originally from Antigua, Ben Rainey is a student in Linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, UK, with an interest in creole studies and pragmatics – specifically, metaphor and reality and where they meet – and where he also works on Grambank, an international project documenting grammar in languages from around the world. When not studying he co-runs the art night and radio show ‘voice of god’ , looking at ways to talk about the invisible in art, as well as producing music as äkeä and playing in punk band Business Lunch.


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Congratulations, Moondancer

This just popped in to my social media newsfeed so I had to pause to big up Floree Williams Whyte who now has her own publishing imprint, Moondancer.


Floree Williams Whyte is part of the Wadadli Pen team: she’s been a judge since 2012 and, in 2016, became a part of the core advisory and action team as we move toward becoming a formal non-profit and solidifying the foundation we’ve been building since we launched in 2004. Floree with Kaeiron2So, we had to take a moment to shout her out and big her up for this major milestone on her publishing journey.

Per Moondancer’s facebook page: Moondancer Books is a small press, publishing Caribbean based books. This ever expanding brand, owned by Floree Williams Whyte, encompasses anything that is creative, inspiring and literary.

She’s also announced on the page that this book is coming soon: Yohan book

Per us: Floree is a talented writer who first hit the market with Pink Teacups and Blue Dressesfloreebookcover, a book of sometimes quirky and always authentic vignettes of growing up, Antiguan. Her second book was Through the Window.Floree book launch

While Floree has self-published before (Through the Window), setting up an imprint is a different level (a level at which you’re a business woman with an independent publishing house). Kudos to her for taking that step.

And you can be sure we’ll be trying to grab her for a  guest post or Q & A about this new step here on Wadadli Pen soon.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, and With Grace; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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Lamentations by King Short Shirt

Sung by Mclean ‘Short Shirt’ Emanuel
Written by Shelly Tobitt

See also our song lyrics data base; and our song writers’ data base. All lyrics are transcribed from the song recording. Errors and omissions are my own; feel free to help me correct or fill in the blanks. – JCH, blogger

Lament oh my soul (x2)
I crying for this cruel world
Mankind can’t find no solution
I say, we reaping the sour fruits of retribution
And I’m now convinced we are violent, Lord
Vulgar animals
And is we who say we intelligent
We superior
We civilize and we wise
Yet we making all kinda bomb
Blowing up everyone
Killing one another with gun
And who ain’ got gun
Use knife

Lord I say
That the time has come
For us to get on our knees
Lift our head to the trees
To the very sky above you
(Oh Lord, Oh Lord)
Let there be happiness in our soul
(Oh Lord, Oh Lord)
Let there be love not hate in our world
Oh for the day when he come down
In all he glory and say
Let there be peace
And all them fighting cease

Peace, peace, peace
Everybody shouting peace
Oh lord
Love and happiness is what we need
No one no one
Will stretch that loving hand
Everyone sitting down on their ass
Watching the other man
While war and crime and violence
Gone rampant in every land
Yes, he said he made us above the animal
Destiny to hold
The galaxy’s in our hand
But dog and pussy stop fight
They living and unite
Is only we human wantonly destroy life


Female liberation
Even women wants their freedom
Rioting, demonstration
Where will this end
If it keeps on
I can only visualize annihilation
With them bombs and guns
And constant improvement on modernized weapon
Yes, he gave us eyes to see and ears to hear
But wha me eyes perceive
Lord a trembling in fear
Bombs falling from the air
Shooting everywhere
Rebellion far and near
And every day is more talk bout revolution I hear


Power madness has come
Every land in raw confusion
Poverty and starvation
Lining the street
Hand in hand with man
Grasping at the throats of the poorer ones
Pounding and grinding him in to oblivion
Hatred, injustice, greed and vengeance
Corruption and treachery
So very eminent
It’s the order of the day
You cannot get away
No matter what you do or say
Unless we kneel and let the nation heel



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