Tag Archives: Writers

Author Invites – A Checklist

Author invites here refers to invites to authors to present in public and/or group settings including, but not limited to, educational institutions, conferences, arts events, meetings, etc. It’s a mix of things both authors and event organizers need to keep in mind and pulled from various sources (linked). TL, DR discuss expectations and what you can reasonably do up front, value each others’ time, follow through on what you agree to, and have fun.

This is something I’ve had to learn by trial and error to navigate and so many years in, I am still learning. Sometimes people come correct, sometimes people balk at the idea that you are a professional and should be treated accordingly. Either way, it’s good to have some idea of best practices and as I learn I try to share. This felt like a good place to share this given Wadadli Pen’s commitment to nurturing and showcasing the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, and I would say beyond in the case of the various Resources, I’ve tried to share in this space over the years. Be mindful though that there is no one size fits all, size up each situation based on its particulars (e.g. commercial v. non-commercial) and adjust accordingly.

For Writers

This post actually has a pretty decent checklist, so why re-invent the wheel.

Be direct in your response (whatever your decision y/n)…(and if you have decided to accept the invitation) accept the invitation with pleasure. Confirm the necessary information, like location time and datediscuss the need for any special equipment and other relevant details (you will also want to ask if the event plans to record and redistribute, and discuss terms)…ask about the interests and attitudes (and I would add, age group and group size) of your audiencediscuss your fee (it’s not gauche to attach value to your time and ideally you shouldn’t have to be the one to raise it but often you are; yes, sometimes there’s no budget for it and you can decide then how you wish to proceed – we’ve all done events for free or for “exposure” – but what you do has value and writers have bills like everyone else; so, negotiate, agree to the the amount, payment schedule, payment method, and possible recourse for payment delays)…confirm all important details (which can include travel, lodgings; depending).

LettersPro, including sample letter. Link takes you to letter for book club invites but in the left margin are variations for different types of events. Parentheses in the quoted segments above are my inserts.

This post from an author dealing primarily with virtual sessions suggests.

Let people know you’re interestedpost this on a website or your social media (e.g. see my Appearances page)…make sure the technology works on both ends (this is the zoom era version of ‘discuss for the need for any special equipment’ for location visits)…choose a nice, quiet (clutter and other-people free) spacea glass of water (i.e. as with an in-person event, keep to hand whatever you need, including water, your books so that you don’t have to go off-camera for them mid-stream; is this a good spot to mention dress appropriate to the event?)…be flexible and go with what they have planned (best to discuss said plans ahead of time)…be prepared for anything (questions, critiques etc.) …set a time limit (and for book clubs, at which point in the meeting you’ll be joining).

The Author’s Experience: How to visit with Book Clubs by author and publisher Jill Santopolo. Bolds and italics are mine.

For Book Clubs, Educational Institutions, State Institutions, Commercial Entities, and Other Event Planners

Make sure the author is a good fit for your event and audience (e.g. age group). Do your research, including reviewing their catalogue/books. Check for their interest in doing book club or other events which may be indicated on their website. Approach them with an invitation, preferably via the contact method identified on their website. Consider your budget and if you have no budget be upfront about that – so that the author can make an informed decision. Purchase their books (if a book club), or arrange through publisher (or author if invited author is self-published) and/or local bookstore to have their books on hand for sale and signing (if another type of event). Decide on meeting date and method (i.e. in person or via zoom) – consider the budget, logistics, and other implications; be flexible during the negotiation process (e.g. the author may not be available on your preferred date or the author may have a specific time of declared availability (e.g. Tuesdays only at 2) but with flexibilty the meeting could still happen unless it’s a hard no).

This next section leads off with some of the tips mentioned above (re checking the authors’ website, being flexible on dates and time) and has some other tips.

Get in contact way ahead of time (i.e. not 9 days before your event) and have a back-up option.

On the time issue, (and I can’t stress this enough!), check and be clear on the time zones…and make sure to send the link at least a few days ahead, with a reminder on the day.

(Book clubs) Ask the author to join you for the second half of your meeting, and use the first half to discuss it; or discuss the book at one meeting and then invite the author to the next.

Some of my experiences (teachable moments)

I’ve done quite a few events/appearances over the years, so I’ll limit this to 2021, a year which began with the National Public Library’s Author of the Month, hit a personal high with the Medellin World Poetry Festival, and ended with, another high point, the Langston Hughes Festival (to pay tribute to Jamaica Kincaid) – all virtual. I was approached about one other event but that didn’t happen and I might discuss that hear as well. I won’t say which experiences refer to what event because this isn’t about calling anyone out in particular but about learning what to know and what to do re author appearances.

Don’t be afraid to take initiative, especially if you’re a niche or non-name brand author – get your author kit together, announce your availability, ask questions, and take action (try to walk the line between pushiness and assertiveness delicately but if you want an opportunity, you may need to swing in to action). You may get rebuffed and you’ll have to decide if to let that stop you, or review your approach and try again.

Be professional but be patient by which I mean have professional standards for yourself but, while you expect it of others, leave room for variables like the event or even your appearance during the event being shifted or even the event not starting at the scheduled time (if it wrecks your own schedule you might need to politely but firmly communicate this or even cut the length of your session but it’s a good idea to leave time buffers around scheduled events to manage your stress).

Have a good time even through whatever irritability you might have about some things not going according to plan (e.g. starting late, which may signal lack of respect for your time or might just be Murphy doing what he does).

Prepare, practice even. I guess I can mention this one since it’s my own. Before I did my World Book Day live conversation with Danielle Boodoo Fortune, I researched the best tech to use for an activity of that type, set up the one I chose, practiced using it, second guessed myself a million times, then before we went live did a dry run. Some of the events I did this year did dry runs as well, to test the internet speed (oh yes, check your internet speed) and a dress rehearsal of sorts for the actual presentation.

Above, our test run;
Below, the live.

I don’t advise having to produce the live while participating in the live (something will go wrong and one part of your brain will be trying to figure that out while keeping the conversation going, and keeping up with the chat but if you don’t have the team – and having a team is the ideal – you may be doing a fair amount of DIY).

Did I mention check your internet speed? True story, for one of my events, that did not include a test run but which included me setting up a nice little background (I moved a plant), the audio refused to work when I got on – I could see them, they could see me, I could hear them, they could not hear me (despite my mic being on etc.). Turns out it was an internet speed thing (I think) because after running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I cosied up to my router and it was only then that they were able to hear me and given where the router was I literally did the reading in a dark room by the light of a single lamp (which turned out to be okay ambience for the very horrific content of the reading…I think).

I say I think because I haven’t actually seen the video despite asking for it several times before being ghosted post-event…so that was fun. For virtuals, especially if, like me, you have a youtube platform, it’s not unreasonable to request video or video link if you’ve agreed to public posting of the video (because this is another thing you have to discuss and agree to, to be recorded, which can affect the fee if it is a paid event).

Include that in your contract – yes, you should request a contract and/or some kind of paper trail (yes, email counts); just have a written down record of what you’ve agreed to.

Where pay is a factor (again, don’t be shy about bringing it up, in fact bring it up even if you are feeling shy and if they don’t raise it first, because you are a professional, especially if writing is your profession) try to pin down the specifics re pay – how much; what deductions, if any, apply; payment method; and payment timeline (one of the realities of being a freelancer and writer, a freelance writer if you will, is doing the work and having to go ’round and ’round to get your pay in a timely manner, because getting paid when you expect to get paid matters). I’m not just speaking of appearances but it applies here too; writers must live and the field should be respected as the profession it is.

With book club discussions, do establish when you’ll be joining, what book will be discussed, and it’s a good idea if they have questions for you, and if you have a reading prepped. It can be painless and even fun.

I mentioned time zones earlier. Very important to know the time zone difference between event and guest and make sure you both know what time you’re going to sync up. One event I participated in listed the time zone there and here which I appreciated; most (and I’m going to say most in the US) just list the time specific to their time zone, leaving the details of figuring out your time zone relative to theirs and being there on time up to you. And if you are planning an event, check the time zone before sending the invite and make sure you are clear on the when of your meeting and that it’s convenient for both you and your guest or guests.

But finally have grace with yourself – whether you’re the writer or the person requesting the writer’s time – we’re all figuring this out and will misstep; the purpose of this post is to use the experience of myself and others to try to anticipate and learn from missteps so that those who come behind us, and us in the future, don’t step in it more than once. I mean we’ll probably step in something else, because you live and learn, but if we’re learning hopefully we won’t commit the same faux pas twice. Fingers crossed.

See also Let’s Talk about a Writer’s Time.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, 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, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. If you use, credit. It you enjoyed, check out my blog. Thanks.

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Roland Watson-Grant: Caribbean Winner, 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize — Repeating Islands

Jamaican author Roland Watson-Grant is the Caribbean Winner of the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, with “The Disappearance of Mumma Dell”—his winning story of a matriarch’s funeral gone awry, a missing body, a forbidden pear tree and a community under threat is told through the eyes of a teenager. The 2021 overall winner will be announced […]

Roland Watson-Grant: Caribbean Winner, 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize — Repeating Islands

‘I entered Commonwealth Short Story Prize because I write in the spaces where cultures have conversations. I eavesdrop on what one culture –based on geography or time– has to share with another. I couldn’t ignore a platform that is dedicated to the very same thing.’ (Grant)

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is now open for submissions. See this and other deadlines in Opportunities Too.

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Book Publishing Q & A

I responded, last year, to some questions submitted via email by someone doing research for an MA programme. This questioner found me when I had the time (or made the time). That may not always be the case. I thought sharing my responses here might be useful to others who may have similar questions going forward (for days when I don’t have the time). Questions were specific to my books with independent press Caribbean Reads Publishing (which, I believe, was the chosen case study).

*Did you have to re-draft your books before they got published? What were some of the editor’s comments on your work? Did you find these critiques helpful?

Both books went through an editing process (not redrafting but fine tuning). Editing was outsourced to someone knowledgeable in critiquing teen/young adult books, and then a second round of editing, I believe, in house. I don’t remember the specific comments- the only thing that comes to mind is in the case of Musical Youth the addition of a chapter fleshing out one of the characters more, and some language notes, some cultural and some re suitability of content for the target audience. Probably some plot and character points that needed clarifying as well. Some I found helpful, some I did not.

*Can you describe the process of negotiating your contact? Do Caribbean own the rights to the books you have published with them?

I sought my agent’s advice re the contract – something I try to do always. The process was amiable considering the circumstances. The writer owns the rights but certain rights are licensed to the publisher – any rights not specified remain with the author. Standard contract.

*To what extent are you involved in the creative design and illustrations of your books?

The publisher has final say but in each case I’ve had input to varying degrees – with Caribbean Reads especially, it’s been quite collaborative with author feedback sought on character design at various stages.

Lost! character

Does Caribbean Reads provide an illustrator and cover the cost for you?

With traditional publishing, the publisher invests the money in publishing the book, including commissioning (selecting, hiring, and paying) the illustrator (in the case of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure) and cover design (in the case of Musical Youth). They do ask for and consider my recommendations re the artist – which is not the case with every publisher.

*Were there any pro’s or con’s to publishing with Caribbean Reads specifically?

See the video – it doesn’t speak to the nitty gritty of publishing with anyone but it does make a distinction between working with big and small publishers. Caribbean Reads as an independent Caribbean press is on the small side.

*How did Caribbean Reads market your work to boost sales? Which was the most effective method?

A number of ways from sending books out for review to advertising to social media to giveaways to festival bookings to media releases etc. I think a combination of approaches rather than a single thing, and consistency, yields the most success.

*Once your book was published, did Caribbean reads organise book tours or readings to promote the book?

Not a book tour, no, but as noted they did facilitate certain bookings like the Brooklyn Book Fair and, in tandem with my efforts, the Miami Book Fair.

*What advice do you have for writers who want to be successfully published?

See this video

You can check the resources page on the Wadadli Pen blog (i.e. this blog right here) which I maintain – some of my other blogged content re the publishing process is there among the resources by other people that I share (you will need to dig through it to see what is mine as most of it is links to third party sites).

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 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, Oh Gad! and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my 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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Out-Store Book Event

Out-Store is my spin on in-store because the Best of Books bookstore’s Independence weekend event was held on the sidewalk outside of their store, not indoors, and we were all masked up because #COVID19isreal in these streets. The showcase of local literary talent actually ran over three days. I was there on Saturday afternoon, but I believe it started on Thursday of that weekend. Here are some I believe exclusively Saturday images and videos (courtesy the Best of Books and writer Brenda Lee Browne who was, also, a part of the event).

I was there (in purple) with (standing, left) Brenda Lee Browne, author of London Rocks and the Just Write journal to jumpstart your creativity.
Just Write books and mugs (the latter created locally by Cedars Pottery).
Pictured in the foreground is Farida Issac’s latest, Live Out Loud: A 90 Day Guided Journal for Women Ready to Live their Best Lives.
Farida Isaac also brought her children’s book Calypso Princess: the Grand Celebration and the companion activity book.
Janice Sutherland was out with her book This Woman Can! The No Bullsh*t Guide for Women Who Lead. This is the first upload to the new Wadadli Pen YouTube channel.
Other videos from the event have been added to the Wadadli Pen channel. Check the ‘Book Event, Independence 2020 Playlist’.
T. Lerisa Simon was out with Gift of God: Finding Treasure in the Darkness and Lemon Tree: Surviving Miscarriage and Other Things We don’t discuss.
Joy Lawrence.

I am pictured here with the original 2014 edition, left, of the Burt Award winning title Musical Youth, and the 2019 second edition, right.

Also present was The Boy from Willow Bend.

That’s me at the end. I am Joanne C. Hillhouse. I write books. I run Wadadli Pen. I blog here. If you use anything from this post, credit where due and link back. If you’re a writer who participated in this event, don’t see yourself, and have a picture of vid to share, you can send to wadadlipen@gmail.com Will do my best to post as soon as time allows. #buylocallit

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A Bright Future for Tomorrow

by Andre J. P. Warner, 21

The quiet crunches of footsteps on the decrepit asphalt echoed in the barren landscape, sparsely occupied by wilted weeds and rundown buildings. Lucas, a lean bronze skinned young man walked towards the coast silently eyeing his destination, his eyes kept low from the blaring sun. His steady pace soon came to a stop as the road took an abrupt plunge into murky waters, filled with detritus. Lucas’s gaze locked on the lone building visible in the distance; partially submerged, with the paint barely reflecting the orange hew it once held. Lucas began to undress for the unpleasant dive he wished to avoid, but with his increase in asthma symptoms, that old hospital was the only place where he could find the Ventolin inhalers he needed. With a grimace and a deep breath, Lucas took his dive.

Steadily swimming, Lucas began to think about what led to the country he lived in being in this state. The answer was simple, it just simply got hotter. Global warming peaked melting the icecaps, elevating sea levels to the point where the sea took 30% of the land. The sea ports, airports, coastline hotels, and all the offshore islands sunk! St Johns, Green Bay, Coolidge and all areas close to the coast along with every beach simply disappeared, so fast were the effects that there was no time to plan for the devastating economic effects. With this new aquatic territory, Sargassum sea-weed flourished, creating many forests around the island inhabited by the most vicious predator, Lionfish. As the kings of the underwater jungle, they destroyed most aquatic wildlife with their indiscriminate feeding. Lucas came back to focus as he reached his destination and began his frantic search, the results were lacking, but the single dosage he found would have to do. Doubling back, he swam to shore for his trek to Scott’s hill where he lived, one of the few decent places left on island.

Lucas approached the base of the hill to his home he heard a sharp crunch, lifting his leg he saw the source, a brown shell. Staring at the shattered remains of the shell he recalled the past behind them. The April of 2008 was the day when the first infestation of the Giant African Snail was identified, a small patch in Jolly Hill. A manageable infestation but due to mismanagement the invasion spread, in the eyes of the public and the government they were not that important. The farmers were the first to complain, then a few communities, but the masses did not complain; after all it wasn’t their properties. Then the businesses started complaining; the government put up a few initiatives and even put a bounty on snails, but who wanted to pick up nasty snails in hot sun for only five dollars a bag? As time passed they spread like the slow stream of water on the dinner table, you only noticed when it’s dripping on your lap. The nation was flooded; the government still dragged their feet even when the tourists complained. The snails were seen and ignored until disaster truly struck. In November 2020 the corona virus hit the nation, one that could not even properly fend off Dengue fever. The initial cases were contained but, an unknown fact was that the snails were perfect vector for both dengue and the corona virus. Within the bodies of the snails these viruses fused to create, the Krylan virus. The discovery of this virus was at a point which it was too late; a mortality rate of 55% devastated the island and Antigua was quarantined from the rest of the world. The government in desperation released the strongest toxin possible in an attempt to quell the outbreak, this did yield results but also destroyed local species and biodiversity. Between the deadly virus and the now barren land Antigua was evacuated, with a small group of villagers including Lucas’s grandparents.

The thought of the injustice of his ruined nation ignited a fire in Lucas. “You selfish bastards,” he yelled. The politicians and tycoons who profited from pollution, ignoring the consequences. “Those impudent worthle-” it was at this moment Ben realized he could no longer hear himself. With his simmering passion rapidly cooling, he was able to come to the realization that his mike was…off? Eager to return to his speech, Ben rapidly tapped the power button; his futile efforts led to the realization that he had been muted! A rising heat was felt in his cheeks as a slight blush was formed as he slowly raised his head and looked at his audience who had been forgotten in his fervor. There were variety of expressions to be seen, with half of the viewing audience shocked. The expression on his principal’s face was that of restrained anger, who had warned him not to embarrass his institution with “foolishness”. Faces of resentment were worn by the minister who had expected to be praised, not criticized. Visages of amusement and barely restrained laughter adorned the faces of all his classmates. Lastly was resignation in the face of his teacher who begged him not to ‘overdo’. In the corner of his eye Ben spotted a waving hand signaling him to leave, facing the crowd he quickly said “thank you” and strutted off stage. Passing the shocked speaker of ceremonies, on his way to the exit Ben heard her sputter out “T-that was Mr. Ben Mascal and his piece titled ‘A Bright Future for Tomorrow.’ I-I want to thank you all once again for coming out to our sustainable development awards program, here at the parliament building”. The voice faded as Ben left with the knowledge that he was clearly suspended, but with a small smile on his face with the feeling of his message being heard. Staring over the cityscape, with the ocean reflecting the Sun’s glow on his face Ben whispered “it might just be a bright future after-all.”

ABOUT the story: “The exploration of a young man in a now dystopian Antigua ravaged by climate change and its effects. This piece was inspired by my own ‘what if’ scenarios and the award sub-heading.” This story won the 18 to 35 age category and the Imagine a Future/Climate Change themed prize, and tied for the main prize in the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize 2020 Challenge.

Andre hs

ABOUT the author: Antiguan writer with a passion for reading and the literary arts…also fond of chess and hiking. Warner is one of five 2018 Wadadli Pen honourable mentions.

ABOUT prizes won:

Each winner is also set to receive a certificate, a selection of books from The Best of Books Bookstore and cultural items from the Cultural Development Division – Antigua and Barbuda.

Prizes – Patrons:

Winner 18 – 35 –
EC$200 and a signed copy of London RocksBrenda Lee Browne; dinner for 2 – Hermitage Bay; signed copy of Musical Youth (hard cover edition) by Joanne C. Hillhouse

Winner ‘Imagine a Future’ Climate Change Theme – 
EC$500 – Juneth Webson (businesswoman and writer – Milo’s First Winter)

Main Prize Winner (tied) – 

EC$500 – Frank B. Armstrong; free eye exam – Paradise Vision Center; US$250 worth of books – Sean Lyons; journal – Just Write journal by Brenda Lee Browne (Just Write); name emblazoned on The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Alstyne Allen Memorial Challenge plaque – The Best of Books

For the full breakdown of ‘who won what’, if not linked, use the site’s search feature.

ABOUT Wadadli Pen: The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize launched in 2004 with a writing Challenge that continues 16 years later. It is Wadadli Pen’s pilot project, in keeping with its mandate to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, encouraging  writers (and visual artists) in Antigua and Barbuda (35 years and younger) to create a piece on any topic, within a Caribbean aesthetic. In 2020, there was also an Imagine a Future climate change challenge. To support the work of Wadadli Pen, contact wadadlipen@gmail.com


Please respect the author’s copyright. If you share, excerpt, credit, and link back; do not republish without permission nor without crediting.


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Wadadli Pen Returns After A Year Hiatus With A Bigger Challenge

New sub-themes include Imagine a Future – an opportunity for a writer to create a climate change themed dystopia or futopia depending on which way the creative winds blow; the Wa’omani Prize exclusively for Barbudans; and a comic-strip art challenge. The age categories have also been re-set to 6 and younger, 7 to 12, 13 to 17, and 18 to 35. Launch announcement in this press release (WADADLI PEN LAUNCH RELEASE 2020). A submission form (2020 WADADLI YOUTH PEN PRIZE SUBMISSION FORM) is required. Full submission guidelines at Wadadli Pen 2020.

This photo shows 2006 Wadadli Pen finalists includes Verdanci Benta, Rosalie Richards, Blair Rose, prolific self-published author Rilys Adams, and former independent online newspaper publisher and editor Angelica O’Donoghue.

Wadadli Pen continues to create opportunities for writers and artists in Antigua and Barbuda, nurturing and showcasing the arts since 2004.

To contribute prizes so that we can reward all this effort, contact us at wadadlipen@gmail.com

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on 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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Carib Plus Lit News (Early November 2019)

Happy Independence, Antigua and Barbuda.

Original Posting November 1st 2019>and on November 2nd ETA SX Salon & Womanspeak.

The WomenSpeak Project in Trinidad and Tobago teams with the Institute for Gender and Development for ‘Write to Speak’

The WomenSpeak Project in partnership with The Institute for Gender and Development Studies invite you to register for the “Write to Speak” spoken word workshop for women. In this workshop participants will be exposed to the tools for developing their style through poetry: exploring verbal fluency, finding and projecting their unique voice, transforming memory into an intentional story, characterization, and the basics to writing a poem. Participants will have the opportunity to work individually and in groups to explore advocacy and prepare their very own spoken word piece with facilitator Alyea Pierce, a spoken word poet and Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellow. Write to Speak will be held on November 16th 2019 at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the UWI, St. Augustine. Contact womenspeakproject@gmail.com for more information.

SX Salon Number 31 is Now Available Online

With this issue, SX Salon transitions editors, with Rachel L. Mordecai taking on the role of SX Salon editor and Ronald Cummings taking on the role of book review editor. Vanessa K. Valdés and Kelly Baker Josephs will both still be part of the larger Small Axe Project, but are leaving SX Salon in Rachel’s and Ron’s hands. A special discussion section of Issue 31 (focused on online publishing) is guest-edited by outgoing editor Kelly Baker Josephs and outgoing book review editor Vanessa K. Valdés. The pieces collected in this section include reflective essays by Peter James Hudson of The Public Archive, by Vanessa K. Valdés, and by Jyothi Natarajan of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop website, as well as interchanges between Social Text Online editors Anna McCarthy, Tavia Nyong’o, and Marie Buck, and between Kelly Baker Josephs and the Caribbean Review of Books editor Nicholas Laughlin. The essays offer brief, compelling histories of the contributors’ respective platforms as they speak to Josephs and Valdés’s prompts, but the discussion also raises distinct questions of representation in digital space. Also in this issue, reviews of  Crossing the Line: Early Creole Novels and Anglophone Caribbean Culture in the Age of Emancipation by Candace Ward, Caribbean Critique: Antillean Critical Theory from Toussaint to Glissant by Nick Nesbitt, Slave Old Man: A Novel by Patrick Chamoiseau, Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon by Anthony Joseph, and Stolen Time: Black Fad Performance and the Calypso Craze by Shane Vogel. The Poetry and Prose section contains a story by Cynthia James as well as two multi-modal, digital-literature offerings: Urayoán Noel’s “Bagku” and “Cinquain sin quien,” and Joey De Jesus’s “Black Flag.” As SX Salon continues in its role as an innovative and important platform vis-a-vis Caribbean literature and literary criticism, Rosamond S. King will continue in her role as creative editor. To contact, SX Salon, email rlm@smallaxe.net

About the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize

This has been in Opportunities Too for some time, but in case you missed it (I’m posting this on the last day for submissions, which also happens to be Antigua and Barbuda’s Independence Day, November 1st). From the official release: The 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize is accepting entries from 1 September to 1 November 2019. The competition is administered by Commonwealth Writers and is free to enter. The prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words). The five regional winners receive £2,500 each and the overall winner receives a total of £5,000. In addition to English, submissions are accepted in Bengali, Chinese, French, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil, and Turkish. Stories that have been translated into English from any language are also accepted. The prize is open to citizens of all Commonwealth countries and judged by an international panel, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. The judges for the 2020 prize are: Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Chair), Mohale Mashigo (Africa), William Phuan (Asia), Heather O’Neill (Canada and Europe), Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw (Caribbean), and Nic Low (Pacific). The five regional winning stories are published online by the literary magazine Granta. Past winners of the prize have gone on to win other literary competitions and secure book deals. The overall winner is announced at a ceremony which is held in a different region of the Commonwealth each year. All the regional winners are invited to attend this special event which provides opportunities to network with other writers and engage the media. Janet Steel, Programme Manager of Commonwealth Writers, said: ‘The prize is at the heart of all the work we do at Commonwealth Writers. It’s a chance for new voices to shine from around the Commonwealth and be recognised on a global platform.’ Constantia Soteriou, Cypriot writer and overall winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, said: ‘I feel honoured and happy to win this amazing prize; it feels like a reward for all the hard work I have been doing over the last eight years, writing about the perspectives of women on the political and historical events of Cyprus. ‘This prize is a recognition for giving voice to those who did not have the chance to be heard before; those who were left behind.’ Those interested in applying can find out more about eligibility, rules, and the submission process [here].

About the Sharjah International Literary Festival

Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Musical Youth etc. and founder/coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize) is scheduled to be a guest author at the Sharjah International Book Fair.  According to Gulf Today, “The 38th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2019) will be a dream come true for book lovers, with more than 60 international authors and cultural personalities set to participate in the third largest book fair in the world.” This includes American comedian and host Steve Harvey, acclaimed African American author Bernice McFadden (The Book of Harlan, Sugar), and, among others editor of the global anthology New Daughters of Africa UK-based Margaret Busby. Hillhouse will be part of a New Daughters panel and another panel on young adult literature, in addition to a scheduled school visit. We’re sure she’ll report on the experience on her return.

About the Burt Award

This book is the last Burt Award winner, look for it and the other winning titles as Burt Award editions on your book shelves soon. What’s the Burt Award? and is this just a shameless attempt to point you to a post that addresses that very question and highlights all the teen/young adult Caribbean prizes that came out of this contest? Yes… why?

About the V. S. Pritchett Short Story Prize

I’m not sure if anyone from the Caribbean has won or even been shortlisted for this UK Prize before. No names jump out at me. But one surely did when I checked the long list for 2019. Well, two – Diana McCaulay and her story Picking Crabs in Negril.

Diana McCauley at the launch of her first book Dog-Heart with renowned Jamaican poet Mervyn Morris. (Photo courtesy Diana McCauley)

She is one of 11 finalists for the prize, valued at 1000 pounds. Here are the details. Diana may be known to readers of the blog as we’ve interviewed her and reviewed her Burt award winning book Gone to Drift, mentioned most recently in a post we did on the Burt Award. Congratulations to her on her continued achievements -after becoming a Burt award finalist for a second time this year, with a manuscript shortly to be published by Peepal Tree Press.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator 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 – Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe). All rights reserved. 

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Antiguan and Barbudan Writers Talking CARIFESTA Inclusion (or Lack Thereof)

This post started with this

It was shared to social media by a member of the Antigua and Barbuda literary community (tagging the local cultural gatekeepers and local authors like me) with the following question: “any of our writers have been invited to be part of the official Carifesta delegation sent by the Government and People of Antigua & Barbuada Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission. These 14 sessions of Carifesta outside of Antigua & Barbuda … which writers have formed part of the delegation? Is writing considered to be art? Is it an expression of who we are?”

Naturally, I assumed the poser of the question knew the answer to the question posed and was posing the question with purpose and I didn’t want to be drawn in.

Also, I don’t typically respond to everything I’m tagged in but I guess I had time ‘today’. I responded for the same reason I’m sharing the conversation here (without identifying the speakers, since I have not sought their permission to do so) because I am a writer and literary arts advocate who has made more than clear where I see gaps in the boosting of arts, including literary arts, by the powers that be. The Wadadli Youth Pen Prize was launched in 2004 because of a developmental gap I perceived as relates to local lit arts.  Disclaimer alert! Disclaimer alert! I am not saying nothing has been done. To do so would be disingenuous at best, a lie at worst. But there are gaps re lit arts (arts, really) support and inclusion generally, and (very important) consistently; and the process by which the CARIFESTA delegation is selected has never been particularly clear to me (with no intended shade at the artists who have represented us, this is something I queried in an article some years ago – not the selectees but the process by which selection is made). So, I think it’s fair that the question is being asked, reluctant as I am to be drawn in because criticism of any kind is too often interpreted as hateration and grudgefulness etc. But, and this brings me to the other reason I’m sharing this conversation (near verbatim), Antigua and Barbuda is reportedly next in the line-up (after Trinidad and Tobago this year) to host CARIFESTA, making this conversation about literary arts inclusion even more pertinent.

My response in that thread was: No, I have never been invited to be part of the official Carifesta delegation sent by the Government and People of Antigua & Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission (responding because I was tagged and speaking only for myself). I can’t say which writers from Wadadli have formed part of the past 14 sessions of Carifesta (nor how decisions re the composition of the delegation are made). Yes, writing is an art and, yes, an expression of who we are.

Other writers’ response in that thread:

Other writer 1 –
Never been invited, however was asked to supply 50 books to be taken…when explained that they had to contact the publishers…and publisher willing to ship, however, needs specific details…told to contact secretariat…now what is the number? Who will pay for the books and if sold at Carifesta, what is my percentage…not a meeting or formal letter/email… I was contacted by [name redacted] by phone with follow up WhatsApp messages…

Other writer 2 –
[Name redacted] same with me concerning WhatsApp messages. In the end, I explained that I couldn’t send any books due to financial constraints. From what I understand, books would have been on display, but [redacted] never mentioned a delegation or anything along those lines. Plus by delegation, who would be covering flight and board? *Le sigh*

Other writer 3 –
I’m so clueless, this is the first I’m hearing of it. *goes and stands in the corner*

Other writer 2 –
[Name redacted] *joins you as it feels like writers in Antigua are not taken seriously*

Other writer 4 –


That, to the best of my knowledge, was the end of that conversation. And since I have no connected image, I’ll share this vid from a few years ago which begins Ah Write!

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator 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 which has a Spanish language edition). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out http://jhohadli.wordpress.com Please note that, except otherwise noted, images on this site also need to be cleared if you wish to use them for any purpose. Thanks.

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Congrats, NAACP Lit Award Winners

A little late but – having shared the nominees, previously – I want to say congratulations to this year’s NAACP lit award winners. Namely,

Michelle Obama – Biography/Autobiography – Becoming
Margot Lee Shetterly – Children’s Fiction – Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
David Mann and Shaun Sanders – Debut Author – Us Against the World: Our Secrets to Love, Marriage, and Family
Tayari Jones – Fiction – An American Marriage *An American Marriage recently won the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction, among many other accolades including being an Oprah’s Book Club selection.*
Daymond John – Instructional – Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life
Donna L. Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, Minyon Moore, and Veronica Chambers – Non Fiction – For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics
Alice Walker – Poetry – Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart
Jacqueline Woodson – Youth/Teens – The Dream of America

Congrats to them all and to all the nominees. The full list and book and author information here.

Pictured are a mix of winning and nominated books; credit for the information to the African American Literary Book Club.


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Angles of Light 2

Earlier this year, I shared audio of my reading on Chapel FM (in Leeds, England) programme Angles of Light. The Juleus Ghunta (author Tata and the Big Bad Bull author) production will broadcast part 2 on March 23rd as part of Chapel FM’s annual arts festival, Writing on Air (WOA). It will feature readings by 26 poets, including John Robert Lee, Nancy Anne Miller, Marion Bethel, Mervyn Morris, MJ Fievre, Chadd Cumberbatch, and Ann–Margaret Lim. The show will be one and a half hours long.

Here’s the day’s programme:

WOA Programme 2019_Anges of Light_Mar 23rd.jpg

Angles of Light 2 is at 9:45 p.m. Here’s where you can listen live.

As someone who tries through Wadadli Pen to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda, one way being through this platform, Juleus Ghunta (my list buddy: we both have books – my Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure and his Tata and the Big Bad Bull – with Caribbean Reads publishing) deserves credit for bringing Caribbean writers to a platform to which he has access. Respect.

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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