Tag Archives: writing

Submitting Something Somewhere: Things to Consider

Literary journals (and anthologies) are a way to get your feet wet in the world of publishing (before unleashing your masterpiece), and a way to reach a wider audience even if you already have books of your own in the marketplace. Plus,  they are a way of sharing your writing, period.

To date, in addition to writing my own books, I have been published in:
Akashic Books Mondays are Murder online series (my first attempt at noir)
BIM: Arts for the 21st Century
Calabash: a Journal of Caribbean Arts and Letters


Cover artist: Heather Doram

Carnival is All We Know: the Daily Observer’s 50th Anniversary of Carnival’s Literary and Artistic Anthology (which I also edited)
Collective Soul ( a local collection)
The Columbia Review
Ma Comère: Journal of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars (this very brief poem was my first publication outside of Antigua-it even got me a mention in the paper)
The Missing Slate
Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters
Munyori (an African journal)
Mythium: the Journal of Contemporary Literature
The PEN America Journal
The PEN World Voices Online Anthology (this was to coincide with me participating in the literary safari of the PEN World Voices festival)
Poui (the UWI Cave Hill lit journal)
The Sea Breeze Journal (a Liberian-American journal)
St. Somewhere
The Sunday Observer Literary Arts in Jamaica
Susumba’s Book Bag
SX Salon (this was poetry but I’ve also had two pieces of fiction short listed for the Small Axe Fiction Prize)
Theorizing Homophobias in the Caribbean: Complexities of Place, Desire, and Belonging
Tongues of the Ocean (I was later invited to edit a special Antigua & Barbuda issue of this online journal of Bahamian origin)

The University of the Virgin Island’s Caribbean Writer (which has also awarded me the David Hough Literary Prize for a writer working in the Caribbean and the CW Flash Fiction Prize)
Women Writers ezine (on the subject of regrets, contributors to this particular issue had the opportunity to present at a conference in New Orleans – I wish I’d found a way to go – though thankfully I’ve since been to the city who knows what other doors may have been opened)
& a story I submitted to the Desi Writers’ Lounge Short Story Contest (a story which earned honourable mention, my first attempt at a faerie tale) was selected for publication as a children’s picture book (coming soon!)
Links to published fiction and published poetry.

I’ve also been published in the following anthologies:
A River Of Stories Flyer 2016-1A River of Stories (Volume 4 – Fire)
For Women: in Tribute to Nina Simone
In the Black coverIn the Black: New African Canadian Literature
Pepperpot1-524x800Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean (after a story I submitted to the Commonwealth Prize, a story that was also short listed for the Small Axe Prize was selected for the collection; most recently I was contacted by a student at La Guardia Community College who is now studying that story as part of her course)
Round My Christmas Tree
She Sex, Prose and Poetry, Sex and the Caribbean Woman
So the Nailhead Bend, So the Story End: an Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing
Book, including anthology, listings.

N.B. a lot of my journalled and anthologized stories and poems have been collected in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight: 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings.Dancing Nude

N.B. as well while some of these publications are by request, most are a result of submitting and crossing my fingers; some, like the Caribbean Writer, I’ve been published in several times…after several years of rejections; yep, for every accepted poem or story, there are countless more that have been rejected over the years.

N.B. well well well submitting to journals will not make you rich, I repeat it will not make you rich, but for my money, it’s still worth it if you’re a writer looking to not only cop a cheque but be a part of the canon (the literary canon). But don’t get me wrong, writers – all artistes – still need to live (so deserve and should push to be paid) but money (alone) is not what gets us up in the morning. Is it?

Some things to consider (knowledge paid for by hard earned experience):

Ideally, we don’t want give away all our rights, including the right to publish that work in future. When we’ve been trying for a long time, we become so eager when we finally get noticed, we don’t take the time to read the fine print or feel we have no choice but to accept. But we always have a choice. Including the choice to say “no, thanks” and walk away. The onus is on us before submitting to read the submission criteria and terms of use – several journals have these posted online – and decide if what they’re asking for is something we can live with if accepted. Sometimes what they’re asking for isn’t clear up front, however. So, if and when a contract is offered, we need to remember that we can ask questions, make counter proposals, and should pay attention to the tone of the negotiations, their willingness to hear and respond to our concerns.

We want to be paid for our work (I firmly believe we ought to be paid; everybody else is). However, especially in instances where payment is nothing more than a contributor copy (and even that can sometimes be hard to get), we need to consider if the publishing credit is one with some other currency behind its name. Is it respected, does it have a reach into areas you have not been able to get to before, are literary prizes or consideration for literary prizes and critical engagement attached; that sort of thing. Only we can decide if the trade-off is worth it but to do so we need to do our research.

Being active in online groups dedicated to writing is one way I’ve found to stay informed about new contests and journal submission deadlines (and you can too by for instance following Wadadli Pen where I regularly update re Opportunities). Then there are sites like Poets and Writers that have a handy submission schedule for your convenience. We can also look up where writers we like and/or respect have been published or ask other writers for ideas on places to submit.

Aim beyond the moon. By which I mean, let’s not limit ourselves. We should take advantage of the accessibility of niche publications.  The niche ones may make it possible for us to get our foot wedged in the publishing door due to us/our work fitting the publication’s gender, race, cultural, or geographical niche, but let’s not mistake them for inferior – the best ones have standards just as exacting as our so-called dream publications. But the dream publications are so called because their status (and market reach) is such that they can really open up the world of possibilities. Plus, unlike some of the smaller publications, the prestige they bring may come with a sizable payday. I say try for both, all the time, and let’s submit as many days a week as we can to as many (targeted) publications as we can: dream and find the niches. Besides, given the response time of most publications, it’s best not to limit ourselves or put all our eggs in one basket; we can grow old waiting.

We can’t let rejection (soul crushing as it can be, creating all kinds of doubt and internal crises) slow us down. As much as we can stand to hear it, we need to remind ourselves that rejection does not necessarily mean not good, not worthy, you suck!!! It may mean that the submission needs more work, it may mean that it’s not the right market or maybe the right time for it – we’ve all had instances where just as we’re re-working a rejected piece another publication accepts it just as it was. Serendipity and Murphy like to dance a tango all over our hopes and dreams, hard work and try. So we should try, as much as possible, to use the rejections as incentive to keep trying (do you think that’s enough repetition of try to make it stick in our heads?); the moment when a piece finally gets accepted by that publication we’ve been trying (guess not) to get into forever will feel like orbiting the moon (or some other more accurate simile related to flying…and trying).  In the meantime, we do the best we can with the piece (we will not send our first effort); then let it fly.

Sometimes rejections aren’t particularly kind but where they take the time to give a detailed response – here’s why your story sucked or whatever – we should take the time to read it and maybe learn from it. Anything beyond a form rejection (of the your writing is too bad and/or bland to merit my personal scrutiny variety) is unusual. So when we send you edit notes after you make the Wadadli Pen short list, that’s a good thing. And as writers ourselves, we send it knowing it may be hard to hear. We  may not be able to read the feedback right away, or all at once (reading edit notes isn’t like ripping off a sticking plaster). But read it dammit! Have some bobby treats at our elbow if we need to to reward ourselves for being good writers swallowing bitter medicine (bobby makes everything better).

Getting an informed perspective can be illuminating; we may decide that they’re dead wrong and we may be perfectly right, or we may see something we hadn’t considered in their assessment, something that can only make the writing stronger. But how will we know if we don’t at least read it…as they took the time to do?

That said, if our writing is accepted but they propose changes to what’s written, consider it …with care. It’s never easy to edit (especially when those edit notes are coming from someone other than us), but maybe that last line does need strengthening or maybe that bit of character motivation is too ambiguous. So, while we should be willing to fight for the work if we need to, we shouldn’t enter the review process fighting, but listening. If, in the end, we’re not comfortable, if it feels like the changes are transforming the writing in to something other than it was (this is a tricky one because sometimes transformation is a good thing and sometimes it’s pandering), we may need to walk away to write and submit another day. We just need to make sure we’re doing so in the best interest of the work, and not because we’re all in our feelings about being asked to consider cutting an “and” when our writing is genius (genius!). We’ve all been that diva, if only in our minds, at some point or other – but it’s not about us, it’s about what best serves the story/poem and that can be a hard distinction to make sometimes.

Sometimes an editor will make a change without consulting us; I’m not talking minor proofing for punctuation (though where form is a part of the function this can be a big deal too). No, I’m talking dropping aspects of the narrative that they perhaps find offensive in some way (language, language).  As someone who’s had her voice muted (one of those credits above, for which the editor apologized profusely when confronted …but, still, print lives on), That’s a big no, no (oh, hell, no!) in my book. It’s their right to determine that the piece isn’t right for them, but it’s not their right to change it without our consent. To avoid this kind of conflict of the spirit, we should make sure we read the submission criteria carefully before submitting and consider the context – would an academic or religious journal appreciate us using the C word in making a bold point about gender politics? It would be nice if they could be so open-minded but chances are they’re not and we should be guided accordingly.  In the personal instance referenced however where they had requested the work as is but then published it with significant unapproved cuts, the only thing that could have helped is anticipating that and asking to see the proof before it went to print. Not always possible but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Finally, we shouldn’t not try because we’re afraid to. One of the biggest hurdles we’ll have to overcome time and again as writers, apart from the flagging of the spirit and the block, is the fear. A journal asks you to submit a piece for a special issue but you’ve never written about that or this or then (this happened to me with Sea Breeze), consider it a challenge, a prompt if you will, and give it a whirl (Friday Night Fish Fry , which I went on to read at Breadloaf and of which former Stanford Stegner fellow Austin Smith wrote, “it’s an absolutely beautiful piece of prose. The characters are so patiently and vividly and sympathetically wrought”, exists because I said yes, I’ll give it a whirl). We may not like it but we live to be pushed out of our comfort zone. On a related point, we should not let the potential of societal censure or assumptions – and you know people will make them – stop us from writing our truth, our characters’ truth, stop us from submitting. If we change our mind that’s one thing, but if we let someone else change our mind for us then we’re really giving them too much power. Write, let your spirit breathe, be as complex as you are (even if you’re mocked for not fitting the mold), dare – we may need to repeat this to ourselves everyday but that’s okay. Someday, we may not need to, and some day our breakthrough may come. Here’s a simple truth I continue to learn, however, there is no such thing as a single breakthrough. Rather a million opportunities to do what we do,  and if we stay alert to them, keep writing, keep believing, keep trying, stay ready, we will keep moving in the right direction – sometimes with a tired shuffle, sometimes with a flying leap. But moving.

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, Musical Youth, Fish Outta Water, 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, my books and writing, and/or my writing-and-editing services. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen News, Wadadli Pen Year by Year

Reading Room and Gallery XVlll

This page is for sharing links to things of interest around the internet. It’ll be sporadically updated; so, come back from time to time. For the previous reading rooms (1, 11, 111, 1v, v, v1 , v11, v111, 1x, x, x1, x11, x111, x1v, xv, xvi, xvii), click the links or use the search feature to the right, to the right.


“#3 Not following guidelines.
Double check all guidelines before submitting to a magazine. Is there a word count requirement? Should your name be removed from the piece? Should your document be in Word, pdf, or rich text format? If it’s an email submission, do they want the document attached, or pasted into the body of the email? Do they accept simultaneous submissions? Don’t risk getting your piece being tossed out because you didn’t follow the rules.” – (here at Wadadli Pen I know this one well) – read the rest of the list of mistakes writers make when submitting.


“My advice for young writers is to keep reading widely and for pleasure. And don’t get discouraged! So much of it is just mule-like persistence. That’s what I feel I learned this time around. There were many times when Swamplandia! failed and I had to pick it up and try and write it again. There were stories in my collection that were just duds, they’ve been voted off the island, and it was only because I had this material commitment to getting them out the door that I was willing to keep working at them. I really do think that’s the best advice—to keep at it.” – Karen Russell


“An interesting insight into the process came when the pair considered how they had arrived at rather different descriptions for the location of the windmill-giants – Jull Costa has them ‘on that same plain’, whereas Bush situates them ‘in the nearby field’. It transpired that, rather than seeking a literal translation of the Spanish ‘en aquel campo’, each had pictured what they read the original to mean and then found a way to render the image in English.” – Ann Morgan on dueling translations of Don Quixote


“Not only do I not see movies as I write, I can’t visualise, well, anything. At all. I don’t even dream in pictures. I have absolutely no concept of what it would be like to see things that no one else can see.” – Jo Eberhardt


“It happens too often that beginning fiction writers fail to give their characters jobs or occupations. Weak stories by beginning writers often feature adults who are wealthy without any discernible means of income or who perform the indiscernibly ambiguous task of “work.” Characters are described as working each day, but the reader is never told what they do or how their daily jobs affect them or their interactions with others. Characters do not earn money; they simply have it. There are no bills, no expenses, and, of course, no financial struggles.” – Amina Gautier


“So here you have a man at the beach, but he can’t enjoy it; he has to sit, because of his paranoia, with his back to the water, sitting in a chair; he wears a Hawaiian shirt but there’s a bullet proof vest under it; he likes a red wine spritzer but it tastes like Skittles which is very loaded…Trayvon Martin had a pack of Skittles.” – Rowan Ricardo Phillips, born in New York to Antiguan parents, reflecting on his poem News from the Muse of Not Guilty after a reading of the poem, from his collection Heaven, on CBC Radio.


“You start from building this world with their rules, and then you just follow logic in order to come up with the rest of the details. So once you have this simple fact that you’re treating couples in a certain way and single people in another way—and there’s a bit of a concept that this is almost like a prison drama or something, at least in the first half of the film—then you pick up on those things and you borrow things from other kinds of situations … We tried to get into the heads of people that would be in charge and what they would come up with.” – Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos on the making of his film The Lobster


Writing other…Mary Robinette Kowal provides some insight to culturally sensitive approaches to doing so.


“The second thing is reminding myself: You don’t have to write anything that you’re not deeply interested in. Every time I remember this, it’s a relief and a surprise.” – Rita Mae Reese on curing the affliction of not-writing.


“I use traditional women’s techniques, such as sewing, beading and applique. I incorporate found objects in my work; they are clues towards understanding my story and that of women in general.” – Heather Doram


“So much of what the filmmakers did in creating and then editing their work is what we writers strive for when polishing a manuscript: pinpoint the heart of the story and stay true to it, cut what can be lost, and always direct conflict and pacing.” – Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton w/ Elena Greene discuss The Lord of the Rings’ adaptation from book to film and what writers can learn from the choices the filmmakers made. It’s a five part series that begins, here.


A long form interview on the arts is a rare thing, especially in a Caribbean print publication, so kudos to Jamaica’s Observer for this series of poetry month features, this one spotlighting American Tim Tomlinson, co-founder of the New York Writers’ Workshop, in conversation with Jamaican-American poet and artist Jacqueline Bishop. Tomlinson’s book Yolanda, an Oral History in Verse, is focused on the Phillipines but his connection to the Caribbean – his time spent visiting and diving in various islands and countries but most especially the Bahamas is explored as well. Essentially, this interview is about both his journeying as a person and how that has informed his writing, how he creates, generally, and specifically in the case of Yolanda. W/thanks to Jacqueline Bishop for sharing, here have a slow as you sipping your iced tea kind of read:

Tim Tomlinson 1Tim Tomlinson 2Tim Tomlinson 3


“That was one of those magic moments. That came out pretty much whole cloth. Every now and then you ride the tiger. Most days the tiger rides me, but every now and then I ride the tiger. That’s my favorite chapter in the book. The opening chapter of The Given Day is another example. It’s my favorite chapter in The Given Day. It was written in two nights. It was rewritten extensively for prose, but it just came out.” – Dennis Lehane


“When I closed my eyes, I could smell flue-cured tobacco. I could feel the hot sun beating down on me. I could hear the southern accent of a teacher whose voice reminded me of poetry.” – Shannon Hitchcock on the inspiration for her book Ruby Lee & Me


Online gallery of Netherlands artist Marijke Buurlage.



Technically this is musical and literary art (lyrics) shared via a visual medium but that’s not the point. RIP, Prince.


“Nature is completely indifferent to the human endeavours whether they are good, evil, otherwise, whatever.” – Lori Landey and Beth Harris discussing Joseph Mallard William Turner’s Slave Ship


“How many times over the years
I have explained
Celie and her “prettier” sister Nettie
are practically identical.
They might be twins.
But Life has forced on Celie
all the hardships
Nettie mostly avoids…” – Is Celie actually Ugly? By Alice Walker


“Why, I asked my brother, did you like the film so much? So many messages. Look at the title. Everyone has problems underneath. Just because you are smart doesn’t mean u can work everything out yourself.” – Sejal Shah writing on Ordinary People


“You must read to develop a deeper understanding of literary elements, such as character arc, subtext, voice, and narrative distance.” – Chuck Sambuchino in his article The Pros and Cons of getting a Creative Writing MFA at Writer’s Digest


Kei Miller’s essay in this BBC piece resonates with me – it’s truthful and thoughtful and bold as so much of his writing is even when speaking of his tentativeness writing the issue of race -how our whiteness and blackness mediate our interactions. That said, I feel that same prickle of disagreement I feel stir in me whenever a black person, black writer (especially if they’re from colonized or formerly colonized places like I am) say, I didn’t know I was black until… because it’s not my truth (my blackness didn’t limit my sense of possibility but the reality is that, like class and other things, our blackness or shades of blackness was and remains a way of separating ourselves from ourselves) even in the predominantly black places I have lived (including Kei’s Jamaica). The Caribbean is not insulated from these issues, though they are not as starkly or sharply or consistently experienced in whiter places like the US and UK. Beyond my own experiences (some touched on in my February 2016 Essence article Mirror Mirror and issues of colourism/shade-ism explored in my book Musical Youth), this fairly recent memory comes to mind: being in a roomful of children of different shades of black, in a public child-friendly space, right here on our predominantly black island, only to have another adult, call out to one of the children, “black boy, black boy” with a tone and cadence that suggested “bad boy, bad boy” and to have him look up, in full acceptance of this (internalizing it). My aside aside, give the audio clip a listen; it’s a really engaging and touching reflection from one of the Caribbean’s best.


“A writer always benefits from being a kind of outsider. That is why I try not to belong to anything too much. [Alienation] makes you an insider-outsider . . . sharpens [your] sense of observation. You look at things with detached eyes. Even some words. Pondering these English words with your Creole eyes. . . . There always is a sort of dialogue going on [within] most artists anyway. They just soak things in that they ultimately try to reproduce some other way. I think having this dual lens has been very helpful.” – Edwidge Dandicat


“Grounded in the realities of our history and geography, but unbounded in their imaginative possibilities” – Philip Sander describing the work of Nalo Hopkinson jumped out at me as the very thing I’ve been trying to define when I speak of a Caribbean aesthetic as a criterion for (but not a limitation of) Wadadli Pen submissions.


“Shorter doesn’t mean faster or easier! Short story writing is a very different art from that of the novel, from pacing to character development. So for a novelist, it can actually take longer and be more of a stretch to try her hand at writing a short story. A rewarding challenge, certainly, but definitely a challenge.” – Lauren Willig


“I remember myself as a young child, my mother had books inside here, and one of them dealt with the Haitian Revolution. I was ever so proud of Toussaint L’Ouverture. I was just proud. I mean, there he was, sitting in the same book with Napoleon and all of these other great men. So, for me, the Haitian Revolution was very significant. I don’t know how it is in popular memory, because right now everybody’s sorry for the Haitians—and “sorry for” in the sense of, “We’re better off” or “They can wear our old clothes.” So I don’t know about it in the popular memory. But certainly historically, Haiti served to frighten late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century governments. Frightening them, and as a matter of fact, had them even more repressive towards their black enslaved workers because their fear of Haiti was so strong. So, I don’t know that it has popular resonances, but certainly for nineteenth-century politics, it did.” – Erna Brodber interview at SX Salon, a Small Axe Literary Platform


“What’s interesting to me is that of the women who have read this, every single one thinks that it is absolutely sexy and totally horny. Then I was like, ‘oh, so this is erotica’. And I was reminded again that erotica does not need to be explicit. And, of course, what is erotic and what we find sexy and will respond to viscerally in that way is entirely subjective.” – Leone Ross


“The fiction writer in me likes gaps in stories because I can jump into that gap and try to suggest something.” – Marlon James’ Vogue interview


“There’s a place for everything…” – says Barbados’ Shakirah Bourne in this NIFCA interview:


“To move past the ugly parts of history, you have to acknowledge them, on all sides, and this is what I think historical fiction can do so well: show how we got from there to here, but told through characters who see themselves not as history but as completely modern.” – Andrea Mullaney, author of The Ghost Marriage, 2012 Commonwealth Short Story winner for Canada and Europe


“The area where I spent my childhood years was surrounded my trees, and always seemed just on the edge of wilderness. That area has changed so much, but there is still that space in my imagination that’s the same…” – Danielle Boodoo Fortune, Woman of Colour interview


“What I’m trying to bring out is the power of words themselves, the power and musicality of words.” – Clifton Joseph


“Reading was such a sanctuary when I was a teenager, I wanted to see if I could tell a Jamaican story, a Caribbean story, that would interest even an urban teenager.” – Diana McCaulay re her new book Gone to Drift


“In April of 1945, after facing only minimal resistance, Rhett was part of the Allied force that liberated a concentration camp named for the beech forests that surrounded it. The day was damp and overcast, with a heavy ground mist that sometimes hid the heaped bodies and sometimes revealed them. Living skeletons stood at the fences and outside the crematoriums, staring at the Americans. Some were horribly burned by white phosphorous.” – Cookie Jar by Stephen King


“In death, we live far more richly than we do in life. Our lives are pale shadows in which we are preoccupied with the business of living. It is in death that we take on nuance and colour. We seep through the floorboards of houses, spread out and nestle there. We whistle through windows, ruffle curtains and inhabit the minds and memories of others. We take on a resonance that only memory provides. We become deities. We become ancestors.” – from Ayanna Gillian Lloyd’s Walking in Lapeyrouse


“There was no rebuttal. She ended the call. From the decanter on side board, she poured herself a drink. The rum quelled the chill in her stomach — a chill reminiscent of rain-fly wings brushing against her skin. Where did they find him? They were hunting him for so long. Did he put up a fight? Errol had a point: There was really no need for her to kill him herself. But she wanted to.” – H. K. Williams’ Celeste in Moko


“They’ve taken you, in the rolling melody of their steps and song, to the river Aripo inside the forest, and when they sit and beckon you to come join them, their feet, you notice, are not as they’re supposed to be. It’s a peculiar thing to miss, really, backwards feet. You sense that your own feet have been treading air when they come into contact once again with the marshy forest floor. You look back into the bush where you think you came from, and you want to go home.”- Wenmimareba Klobah Collins


Edwidge Dandicat reads and discusses Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl and her own Wingless. And here’s Girl, so you can read along.


“My wife is happiest on Sunday afternoon, when I leave the house. We have been married five years – too soon for us to take pleasure in each other’s absence.” – from Radio Story by Anushka Jasraj – Commonwealth Short Story winner for Asia


“After years of working like a dog, clawing his way to fame and fortune—forfeiting family in the process—Desiree and the people of the island had broken down his mighty reserve and rewarded him with passion, friendship and the happiest times he’d ever experienced. He loved living in a place where everyone was aware of who he was, but not impressed or intimidated by what he had done. He admired the lack of social divides, that the Chief Minister played dominoes with ‘The People’, and that his best friend and “liming partner” was her cousin, and his Captain.” – Trudy Nixon’s Anguilla Boat Race, part of Akashic’s Mondays are Murder series


Mary Akers said about ‘Viewing Medusa’ after it had been posted at The Good Men Project: “For all you writers out there, this story’s publication is a testament to persistence. It won the Mary Mackey Short Story Prize, it was the story I submitted for my successful Bread Loaf waiter application, but for ten years, I tried unsuccessfully to get it published. I submitted it to 101 journals, 100 of whom rejected it before Matthew Salesses believed in it and brought it out into the world.” Here’s an excerpt from the story:  “I found myself unable to look away as she slurped her soup, dipping the pieces of dasheen in the broth and sucking them dry after each dip. When the soursop was served, she peeled away the bumpy green skin and slurped the fruit into her mouth, rolling it around until the smooth brown seeds were free, spitting them onto her plate. Soursop juice ran down her wrists and dripped off her elbows to the floor. I thought of Miss Connie, later, on her hands and knees, wiping up the stickiness while shaking her head at the lack of manners displayed by scientists.” – the voice/point of view and descriptions work well together to create a clear picture of the part of Dominica in which the story (which feels less fiction and more here’s how it happened) is set – the beauty and ruggedness in the landscape and the character of the people as compared with the visiting (presumably white) scientists, to create as well a certain mood of foreboding, and to suck the reader in…even if it spits that reader out the other end with questions, or rather one lingering question: so wait, she nar go do nutten? – Read the whole of Viewing Medusa here.


“The fuel tank was empty. He’d collapsed from sunstroke and dehydration. He’d been raving incoherently. When he finally recovered he’d lost all memory of where he’d left his men. A Lysander was sent out to look for them but nothing was ever found. The unforgiving maw of the Sahara had simply swallowed them up.” – Bully Beef and Biscuits by Guy Carter – this was the 2015 winner of the Mogford Prize for Food & Drink Writing


“In Trinidad, everyone knows

the Pitch Lake but few have been

few have seen the dark and strange

surface, the vast dirt a mind of its own:

asphalt lake as constant as change.” – from La Brea. Read that and other poems by Andre Bagoo in Moko.


“No one sees my tears
wafting through the branch clusters
weeping airy patterns into the jungle silence.” – from Mangrove Armour by April Roach in Moko


“We read menacing messages in the scowls
of passers-by. Some circle around,
mark the territory with treads of footprints,
count down days to our departure.” – Camp by Althea Romeo-Mark in Moko


“…crushed lemongrass
overcooked tourist flesh sizzling in the noonday sun
barnacled, rusted boats off Devonshire Dock
my neighbour’s garbage ripped open by feral cats
overpriced perfume – from Trimingham’s, I think
‘mountain fresh’ detergent scent of laundry drying on the line
frying fish and sun-ripened fish guts
Baygon and stale beer
overripe cherries
Limacol and sweat..” – from Kim Dismont Robinson’s Scents of Bermuda: Or, All De Smells That Accosted My Nose One Day When Ahs Ridin My Bike From My Momma’s House on Norf Shore To My House in Smif’s Parish


‘In the roaring of the wolves the doctor said “Do you feel tenderness”
She was touching me’ – Niina Pollari, sharing and discussing her poem Do You Feel Tenderness


“There’ve always been Sunday mornings like this,
when God became young again
and looking back you see
that childhood was a Sunday morning.” – Kendel Hippolyte (Sunday) – be sure to also check out the Dunstan St. Omer Red Madonna that accompanies the poem.


“I think I had a very different vision of myself when I was young, and definitely thought I’d have a family and be a loving parent by now. Instead I’ve birthed books” – Zetta Elliott


“Neglected authors fascinate me. While the particulars for their disregard may vary over time and from culture to culture, one thing remains constant: their perseverance despite official recognition. Such is the case of Eliot Bliss, a ‘white, Creole, and lesbian’ Jamaican novelist and poet whose collected poems have been resurrected by Michela A. Calderaro in Spring Evenings in Sterling Street.” Geoffrey Philp


“Getting to the place in yourself that is beyond influence is the radical edge.” – Brooke Warner


“…exploring a new space is a thing of wonder and an entirely individual experience…” – Sonia Farmer, blogging her Fresh Milk residency in Barbados

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The Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project: A Space for Young Antiguans and Barbudans to Get Creative

Talked a bit about the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project on Observer Radio ( @Observer Media ) this week. Thanks to Darren Matthew Ward and Amar Spencer.

I’ll add only that I’m here situated in Antigua, a writer and a media person, interested in working with young writers or with young people (and adults, my adult writing workshops, like Ah-nuld, will be back) in general who want to improve their literary skills or just carve a space in their lives to flex/exercise their literary muscles. We are all works in progress and I continue to work on my own as well, participating in writing workshops and retreats when I’m able. You don’t realize how draining life can be on your creativity until you’re in a space, if only for an hour that is just about the creativity.

Darren asked me during our interview about the future of the arts (in Antigua and Barbuda) and (despite the intimations by some that I am effectively in a dying industry and the sense, certainly in our space where it is not prioritized) all I can say is go back to earliest civilization, there has been a creative spark, through all the changes over millennia, there has been a creative spark, on the plantations where oppressors worked overtime to stamp out my ancestors’ humanity, there was a creative spark, there will be as long as there are humans trying to interact with or make sense of their world, as long as there is a living, breathing soul inside of us, a creative spark. We create because we are.

As a freelance writer, in a space with limited (very limited) support for the creative arts, I try to find ways to not only do what I do, share my own work but work with others. When I started Wadadli Pen, best known as an annual arts Challenge it aspired and aspires to be more than a competition. As a voluntary project with zero resources of its own, the Challenge is primarily what I’ve been able to do with it. But one thing the challenge reveals each year is the spark of potential in so many of our young people and young writers, there only to be stoked and encouraged.

Through the Jhohadli Writing Project, my own professional writing services, I hope to play a more developmental role, allowing people to pay where they can and/or businesses and individuals to support someone else in the journey, where they are able and willing. It’s not something I can do for free, but I do want it to be accessible which is one of the reasons that I invite sponsorship so that I can offer spaces to promising writers who don’t have the ability to pay. That’s where I am with this.

Appreciated the opportunity to share more.

And as usual thinking about a million other things I should have said (such as the obvious connection between this arts programme and the kind of programme the kids in #MusicalYouth were involved with). Musical Youth is my latest book and my publisher CaribbeanReads will probably want to ring my ear for not plugging it…or Best of Books which was so gracious for spotlighting the book as its teen summer read. Glad I got to get a word in on the reading challenge put on by my two primary voluntary projects the Cushion Club and Wadadli Pen (supported with book discounts by Best of Books and Cindy’s Bookstore…shout out as well to Map Shop which helped us compile the reading list).

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, Oh Gad!, and Musical Youth). 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 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. And using any creative work without crediting the creator will open you up to legal action. Respect copyright.

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student writing workshop 2workshop 2workshop 3That’s what I think of when I look at these pictures from my Saturday afternoon session at Anguilla Lit Fest alongside Yona Deshommes of Atria. It was a fun session of letting the imagination run wild, really wild, as we nudged the participants, all very creative young people, in to imagining their own stories. It’s a reminder that when creating, or for that matter just being, you allow yourself to feel free to fly or fail or flounder when you don’t feel like your choices, your actions or inactions, your very words are being scrutinized, and found wanting. Drop other elements into the water and judgment is … inevitable. But in that moment around that table, we tried to make them feel free to imagine, because in that space there was no right or wrong, just the next sentence.

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, Oh Gad!, and Musical Youth). 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 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. And using any creative work without crediting the creator will open you up to legal action. Respect copyright.

See my other blogs related to the Anguilla Lit Fest here, here, and here.

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Opportunities Too

It was getting a bit busy so I decided to start fresh. However, I recommend visiting the original page for publisher, contest, award, project etc. information and for some tips/advice on submitting/applying. This includes information re protecting your work – links to articles like this one. I won’t repeat it all here but it’s still relevant.

This page will be dedicated to links to upcoming deadlines (links only because it’s not usual nor practical to post all the details here, also for crediting purposes) and fresh content will be added (and stale content removed) as time goes on. As a reminder, I research a lot of contests and markets, residencies and other opportunities because I submit to a lot of contests and markets, residencies and other opportunities, including some of these; I’m sharing because hopefully you’ll go for yours too.  Further reminder: I try to do research before posting and do so in good faith; still, I can’t vouch for them. These are just shares; Wadadli Pen aside, I have no stake in anything posted here and will bear no responsibility for whatever happens when/if you choose to engage with any of them. I’ve tried to make it easier by grouping them here, but do your homework.


March 1st 2017 – Lake Forest College Madeleine  P. Plonsker Residency worth US$10,000 and including publication and a three-week residency. Offered this year to a poet, under 40, who have not yet published a book. Details here.

March 1st 2017 – The Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize is a writing competition sponsored by Selected Shorts. This long-running series at Symphony Space in New York City celebrates the art of the short story by having stars of stage and screen read aloud the works of established and emerging writers. Selected Shorts is recorded for Public Radio and heard nationally. There’s an entry fee and a cash prize. Read more.

March 1st 2017 – ‘This is Who We are’ poetry contest poetry-contest-flyer

March 1st 2017 – Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize. US$1000 purse, US$20 submission fee. Details here.

March 3rd 2017 – Application deadline for Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister’s Scholarship in collaboration with the People’s Republic of China. Priority areas include arts-based fields like the visual and performing arts, and architecture. Minimum seven CSEC passes (grades 1-3) including math and English. Passes in at least four units of CAPE an asset. Collect application forms at the office of the Prime Minister on Queen Elizabeth Highway or by emailing antiguascholarships@gmail.com

March 6th 2017 – Ten scholarships, valued at approximately $1,600 each, to attend the Sozopol Seminars in Sozopol, Bulgaria, are given annually to five prose writers working in English and five working in Bulgarian. The 2017 scholarships will be given to nonfiction writers to attend the 2017 seminars, held from June 8 to June 12. Tuition, room and board, and some travel expenses are included. Writers of any nationality are eligible. Using the online submission system, submit 10 to 20 pages of nonfiction, a one-page personal statement, a biography, and a letter of reference (sent directly to the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation). There is no entry fee. Details here.

March 13th 2017 – Dundee International Book Prize – for an original novel in English by an author who has not previously published a novel. Details here.

March 14th 2017 – submission deadline for the Nelligan Prize for short fiction. Details here.

March 31st 2017 – submission deadline for books eligible for the Guyana prize and the Caribbean Awards out of Guyana – for books of drama, poetry, and fiction. See PDFs for details: guyana-prize-press-release-2016 & caribbean-awards-press-release-2016 

May 15th 2017 – Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival – The call for submission is now open for filmmakers wishing to have their films screened at the twelfth edition of the trinidad+tobago film festival, 2017 (ttff/17). The Festival takes place from 19 – 26 September 2017. They’re looking for films from and about the Caribbean and its diaspora. Up for grabs are Jury and People’s Choice Awards + opportunities for distribution and exposure. See here for more details.

May 31st 2017 – AGNI publishes poetry, short fiction, and essays. Read more.

May 31st 2017 – One Story is seeking literary fiction between 3,000 and 8,000 words, any style and on any subject as long as they are leave readers feeling satisfied and are strong enough to stand alone. Read more.

May 31st 2017 – Grain Magazine, an internationally acclaimed literary journal that publishes engaging, surprising, eclectic, and challenging writing and art by Canadian and international writers and artists, is open for submissions between September and May ONLY. Get in there. Details here.

June 1st 2017 – Application deadline for the Hurston Wright Writers Week in Washington. Application details here.

June 15th 2017 – Fiction’s reading period is open between September 15 and June 15, and advising no more than 5,000 words (but will read manuscripts of any length) – per the title, they don’t publish poetry. Simultaneous submissions are encouraged but do advise them if one of the pieces is accepted elsewhere. Submit by online submission manager or snail mail (only) but queries re the status of submissions or to withdraw a submission can be sent to fictionmageditors@gmail.com They do not accept submissions by email. See other guidelines here.

Date unknown – this one’s direct from the Wadadli Pen mailbox. Mr. Philippe Monfiston reached out to ask us to share with you his call for submissions.  He wrote: “My idea is to gather poems for two international anthologies, similar to This Same Sky, but with both the official language(s) and English translation from as many countries as I can receive submissions, two poems per country. The poets will be at least 10 years old and previously unpublished. The first anthology (tentatively titled My Wish for You) will be based on the Sustainable Development Goals. Participants will choose a goal and use it to write about an issue that matters most to them, a poem that describes the world they wish to see; if the issue they find most important is not one of the 17, they are free to base their poem upon it instead. The second anthology (tentatively titled We Speak Light) is about the recent terrorist attacks and discrimination in Europe and elsewhere around the world. I thought poets could express their solidarity, speaking out against terrorism and racism, voicing fears, hopes, and concerns, etc. Even if certain countries have not experienced terrorism exactly, I wanted them to have a means to express their reactions, e.g. to structural violence or discrimination as fits their experience.” He requires that those submitting be 10 years or older (teachers do you see the possibility of setting this as a class activity?) and previously unpublished; that they specify in which anthology, they wish for their poem to be included (Those submitting to My Wish for You should indicate which S.D.G. their poem addresses or reflects). Participants are free to submit to both anthologies. Poems can be submitted in English and Mother Tongue with an English translation if other than English (for us, this means we can submit in English and Antiguan (the latter with an English translation). When submitting, indicate where you’re submitting from (country, city). Submissions can be emailed to  global.anthologies@gmail.com or sent as hard copies via snail mail (use the email address to inquire about the snail mail option if you need to). It goes without saying that submissions will go through a review and selection process, and not every submission will be picked. Don’t let that stop you if you want to do it, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t make the cut (I guarantee you your favourite writer has also suffered rejection). If you are selected, there will be terms of use and consent forms and other things to review, agree to and sign on to (if you’re happy with what’s being offered and wish to proceed) in due course – details not available as yet. Re compensation, that seems to be up to what arrangement can be worked out with the publishers – so details on that also not yet available. I wasn’t given a deadline but no time like the present, right?

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 forthcoming With Grace; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. 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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Get on it quick. Registration deadline is November 11th 2014.

Here are the details re the teen workshop:

The workshop is offered as part of CODE’s Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, which aims to provide Caribbean youth with access to books they will enjoy and want to read. Through the Award’s book purchase and distribution program, a minimum of 1,200 copies of each winning title is donated every year to Caribbean youth through schools, libraries and community organizations. Workshop participants will have the option of adding their school to the distribution list for free copies of the 2014 winners.

DETAILS OF TEEN WORKSHOP: Caribbean workshops_Nov2014_teens

Here are the details of the workshop targeted at adults…interested in writing teen content:

Offered as part of CODE’s Burt Award for Caribbean Literature — which aims to provide Caribbean youth with access to books they will enjoy and want to read — the workshops are intended to help emerging or established writers of books for teens or young adults develop their skills, deepen their understanding of writing strategies appropriate for this age group, and encourage them to submit their work for consideration for the Award.

DETAILS OF ADULT WORKSHOP: Caribbean workshops_Nov2014_adults

I’ve been lobbying CODE to locate one of these workshops in Antigua and Barbuda since I first learned about them so, yay, for this. And looking forward to the opportunity to facilitate. In other me and CODE news, my book – you know the one that placed second for the Burt Award – Musical Youth – yeah, that one, it’s dropping soon. And I couldn’t be happier. I’m planning a reading event with CODE for the Friday before the workshops so you’ll be able to get a teaser of the book. Looking forward to all of it. Here’s the cover,  with art work by Antigua and Barbuda’s own Glenroy Aaron. Sweet, right?




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Writer’s Toolbox

I’ll be putting stuff here that covers both the craft and the business of writing.

The Business of ‘Selling International Rights’ by Moira Allen is a must-read for any freelance writer.

A Craft post – Gayle Gonsalves on Character.

Also check the workshop links on the site and the business links.

Re the Business and the Craft of writing, don’t forget to use the search feature to the right, to look up some ‘opportunities’.

I have a lot of links about my craft and my experience in the business. And here’s a link to my business of freelancing.

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