Tag Archives: short story

Story Time

This story by Tay-Jah Beazer was the summer 2018 winner of the Friends of Antigua Public Library Short Story competition.

Ma Conie 1Ma Conie 2Ma Conie 3

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, and author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Oh Gad!, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All rights reserved. Subscribe to this site to keep up with future updates.

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Mailbox – Commonwealth Short Story Prize

I have opened two rejections in my mailbox in the past hour. That acknowledgment (after several books and more than 10 years as a published writer) is made in the spirit of commiseration with anyone feeling discouraged today as they navigate this writing life.

The first rejection “yada yada yada” ended with “Your work came very close! Please try us next year.” And I will. I joke that it’s because writers are masochists but I think it’s because a commitment to the writing life means picking yourself up, skinned knees and all, and walking on until your legs give out … or maybe until you find something that pulls you as much as the writing life does.

And so, turning to that other entry from the rejection file, to the 1476 5182 short story writers at all different stages and levels of this writing life from all over the Commonwealth who didn’t make the cut for this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize, I want to take a moment to say (to all of us, because rejections are a part of the writing life but they still suck) be encouraged, keep writing, keep striving to be better writers, stay on that road. And put some iodine on those knees.

Now shake off the dispiritedness and any badmindness you may be feeling (let’s be real), and join me in saying to the writers of the 24 shortlisted stories, big up yuh chest!

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You’ve earned it.

Big up especially to the Caribbean writers making the cut Jamaicans Marcus Bird (An Elephant in the Kingdom) and Sharma Taylor (Son Son’s Birthday), perennial finalist of this and other Prizes (and published author) Trinidad and Tobago writer Kevin Hosein (Passage), and Breanne McIvor, also of T & T (The Boss). Caribbean to the World!

The regional winners – i.e. winners from the Caribbean, Canada and Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific – will be announced in late June, and the overall winner in late July.

Here now is the shortlist.

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,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Mailbox – Who’s Judging You?

Did you submit to the Commonwealth Short Story Competition? I hope you did, I posted a reminder in Opportunites Too. Are you anxiously awaiting the results? Exhale, nothing to be done now but wait…and keep writing. Are you curious about who’s judging this year’s entries? That I can help with as the judges’ bios landed in my inbox this week.

“The 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize judging panel is chaired by Sarah Hall. The international judging panel comprises a judge from each of the five regions – Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific.”

Of the chair, the correspondence said, “Sarah Hall received a master of letters in creative writing from Scotland’s St. Andrews University and has published five award-winning novels and a collection of short stories, Beautiful Indifference which won the Portico Prize for Fiction 2012 and the Edge Hill short story prize. In 2013 she was named one of Granta’s ‘Best Young British Novelists’, and she has won the BBC National Short Story Award and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has judged a number of prestigious literary awards and prizes including the Man Booker. She has tutored for the Faber Academy, The Guardian, the Arvon Foundation, and has taught creative writing in a variety of establishments in the UK and abroad.”

You can go here to read about the judges from the other regions, including the Caribbean’s Mark McWatt, a Guyanese national and past Commonwealth and Casa de las Americas prize winner.

Fingers crossed, right? I mean, the only thing that’s up for grabs is “a total prize money of £15,000. The overall winner receives £5,000, one of the highest amounts for an international short story prize open to unpublished writers. Regional winners receive £2,500” – and the distinction of winning the Commonwealth Short Story Competition.

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, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, 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 and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

 

 

 

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Go for it!

I’ve never met or even spoken to Maggie Harris

Maggie Harris.

Maggie Harris.

outside of the virtual world of social media, but she feels like part of the Wadadli Pen family, having contacted me well into the 2014 season to offer a copy of her book Kiskadee Girl as part of the prize package.

Kiskadee Girl.

Kiskadee Girl.

The book promptly came in the mail all the way from the UK where Maggie, Guyanese by birth, lives; and it’s since been added to the library of Ariel Dunnah who was third placed overall, in addition to being second placed and honourable mention in the 18 to 35 age category of the Wadadli Pen 2014 Challenge.

All of that preamble to say two things.

First, big up big up big up to Maggie Harris for being the regional winner of the prestigious and highly competitive Commonwealth Short Story prize. As we did a few weeks ago when Diana McCaulay another former prize donor and Wadadli Pen associate family member as a result claimed the Hollick Arvon Prize at Bocas, we feel in a celebratory mood, like we’re celebrating one of our own. Congratulations, Maggie, and fingers crossed that you’ll take the big win in Uganda in June.

Second, to all Antiguan and Barbudan writers reading this, this is a prize you need to go for. True confessions, I’ve gone for this prize several times, and I persist in going for it because I will not be undone by my failures, and because it is a significant prize in the doors it can open, the validation it can bring, and the sense of personal satisfaction that it will give…and that’s before you even get to the purse. The truth is, as a writer while you are your only real competition, it’s important to keep pushing yourself, challenging yourself, and step into those fields that can cause you and your writing to flourish. One of the reasons we do Wadadli Pen is to encourage this mindset, and one of the reasons we give short-listed writers the opportunity to benefit from the judges’ critique is to reinforce how essential craft is, and as a part of that, revision. One of the Commonwealth winning writers mentioned revising her story 12 times; for some writers that’s on the low side. You wrestle with the story, trying to get it right, and you try always to put your best effort forward. And the not making it the first two, three or ten times is no reason to give up, that too is part of the writer’s life; it’s not always easy but we pick ourselves up and we persist. I mention this here because I’m disappointed to learn how few Antiguans (too often none) actually take a shot at these prizes – prizes like the Burt Award for which I recently claimed second prize in 2014, prizes like Hollick Arvon for which another Wadadli Pen family member Brenda Lee Browne was long listed in 2013, and yes prizes like the Commonwealth Short Story prize which afforded me though not a finalist to be picked as one of only 13 writers from across the Caribbean, and the only one from Antigua, for the recently published Pepperpot collection, which also resulted in me being offered opportunities to read in Glasgow at the Aye Write! festival and in New York at the PEN World Voices festival. I mention the only one from Antigua not to suggest that I’m special in anyway because there are people as or more talented than me from the 108 by 62, the only difference is that, in spite of the hurts and set backs, I persist, I work at it and I research and reach for the opportunities. We need to try to swim in bigger waters, people; submit to those journals, go for those prizes, seek publication, access, and opportunity. You know why, because we have the talent here in Antigua and Barbuda, and while it takes more than talent – things like discipline, skill building, networking, and more – there’s no reason we shouldn’t reach for every opportunity.

Brenda Lee has a tag line, “just write”; how about we add “…and go for it”. Sure you might get rejected but you could turn out like Maggie Harris: “overwhelmed and thrilled… (and) very grateful”.

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, 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 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.

 

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Commonwealth Writers Short List

I hope lots of Antiguan and Barbudan writers submitted to the Commonwealth short story contest and I hope lots of us will continue trying. As I discovered when my story Amelia was subsequently picked for Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean, there is sometimes a second act….and there is always room to keep working and grow as writers. These let downs are part of the process but not the final chapter.

Big up, meanwhile, to the three Caribbean writers who did make the cut among the 19 finalists from all parts of the Commonwealth – effectively all parts of the globe.

Those Caribbean finalists include 2014 Wadadli Pen Patron Guyanese writer Maggie Harris, Trini Charmaine Rousseau who I am acquainted with through social media, and Bahamas writer Helen Klonaris. Read the full run down on these and other finalists here.

CONGRATS TO ALL.

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, and Oh Gad!), founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. 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. 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.

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Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014 Deadline Approaches

There are less than four weeks left to enter the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Entries close 30 November 2013.

The prize is free to enter, and awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000-5,000 words) in English. Regional winners will receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. Short stories translated into English from other languages are also eligible.

The 2014 judging panel will be chaired by Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize, and previously Deputy Editor of Granta and Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House. The judges are: Doreen Baingana, Michelle de Kretser, Marlon James, Courttia Newland and Jeet Thayil.

“My hope is that writers from across the Commonwealth will be encouraged to send us stories that bring us news of wherever they are, in the wide variety of voices and accents that make up the English language. It would be wonderful to see submissions from bold stylists and stories that experiment with the form as well as more traditional approaches to the short story. This prize celebrates the power of the short story to spin a tale that concentrates experience and character in such specificity that the local is transformed to significance far beyond its borders. This is the magic of good writing, and this is what I hope we will find.” Ellah Allfrey, Chair, 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Commonwealth Writers is continuing its partnership with Granta Magazine to give the overall and regional winners of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize the opportunity to have their story edited and published by Granta online.

This year we are pleased to announce a new association with the London-based literary and media agency Blake Friedmann, who will work with selected writers identified through the Prize.

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Road Trip to Paradise by Ayoka (Angelica) O’Donoghue

[2006 – Young Explorer Wadadli Youth Pen winner]

 “Cuckoo doodle doo…cuckoo doodle doo…”  
 
You don’t have to tell me twice, I’ve been waiting for this day for one whole week, seven whole days…and now it’s FINALLY here! I sprung up instantly energized and stretched. For the first time this week I was enjoying the feel of the cool breeze and the warm rays of the rising sun on my body. I ran over to my older brother to wake him.  
 
“Get up, get up, it’s today. Today’s the day, Dee. Today I get to go on the big road trip that everybody talks about! Yippee!” I all but shouted as I jumped up and down circling him.  
 
My enthusiasm was thrown back at me as Dee grumbled a snide remark, rolled his eyes and turned his back to me.  
 
“Awwww, come on Dee! Aren’t you the least bit happy for me?”  
 
“Just leave me alone Jay…please just leave me alone!”  
 
“You’re just jealous,” I grumbled as I turned away.  
 
Dee wasn’t going on the field trip today. Grandpa Joe said he wasn’t coming this time. Dee was disobedient, he wouldn’t eat his supper or take his vitamins, and only the obedient ones who ate their supper and did as they were told were taken on these special trips as a reward. This week, only a few were chosen for this trip and I felt just GREAT that I was among them! “Dee is not going to spoil this day for me, no way. This is going to be the most memorable and happiest day of my life, I just know it!” I grinned to myself as I skipped outside to look for Emm. Emm is my best friend, has been ever since I can remember. We were born just days apart, and we were both really excited about this trip.  
 
The place was buzzing with excitement when I got outside. Everyone going on the trip was excited, well…most of them were. Those not coming along were whispering amongst themselves. “They all must be so jealous,” I thought to myself. “Soon,” I whispered softly as my eyes searched for Emm, “very soon we’ll be on our way.” I spotted Emm and ran over to meet him.  
 
“Hey Emm! Ya all set an ready fu go?”  
 
“How ya mean, Jay. Ya tink a you wan cyan’t wait?”  
 
We both laughed, jumping up and down, as our excitement soared to yet another level.  
 
“EVERYBODY IN!” boomed Grandpa Joe’s gruffly voice.  
 
Emm and I were the first in line, well… I was first and Emm second. We were placed in the back of Grandpa Joe’s old pick-up and at last, the long awaited journey began. The old pick-up grumbled to life and began to move slowly down the old dusty road.  
 
“KFC! KFC! KFC” I kept saying that over and over in my head just so I wouldn’t forget it… as if I could. I had never been to KFC, but I sure heard a lot about it. That was all we chickens ever spoke about.  
 
KFC is chicken’s paradise, the land of milkshake and honey mustard. Many have gone before and none have returned. They say once you go Colonel your stay is eternal, but who would want to come back to Joe’s Chicken Farm after you’ve made it past those red and white gates of KFC.  

“I can’t wait to be at KFC”. I smiled again to myself, and as I looked back at Dee, he was grinning.  
 
“That’s the spirit Dee; you’ll make it to the other side eventually. Just be obedient and do as Grandpa Joe says. Eat your meals, take your vitamins, go to bed on time and one day you’ll join me on the other side. Till we ‘meat’ again my brother, till we ‘meat’ again.”  
 
To be continued…

THE END

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Copyright of the winning Wadadli Pen stories and/or art work featured on this site belongs to the creators of the individual works and are used here purely for promotional and educational purposes. Other blog content, except otherwise noted, is created and/or maintained by Joanne C. Hillhouse. Site content should not be copied, distributed, transmitted, used for commercial purposes, altered, transformed, or built upon without the consent of the copyright holders.

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