Tag Archives: writing


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

The original Opportunities page is here. 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. I won’t repeat it here but it’s still relevant.

This page will be dedicated to upcoming deadlines and fresh content will be added (and stale content removed) as time goes on. Fair warning, I’ll be going for some of these as well.


July 21st 2015 – Frieze Writer’s Prize – its goal is to discover and promote new art critics; the winner will be commissioned to write an art review for Frieze and paid 2000 GBP. If over 18, submit one unpublished review of a recent art exhibition, no more than 700 words. Send to writersprize@frieze.com

July 24th 2015 – GMT – I put the GMT because that time zone thing (as in not knowing it) messed me up with a submission for another thing once; so let that be a lesson to all of you: know your time zones! Anyway, you shouldn’t be cutting it that close anyway, right? A trick I use if I plan to submit to something now is I set the reminder a few days before the deadline. Okay, so Wasafiri, this is the annual new writing comp for the respected British magazine – this applies to fiction, poetry, and non fiction. The prize is open to any one worldwide who has not published a book in their chosen categry. The prize for each category is 300 pounds and publication in Wasafiri. More details here.

September 18th 2015 – 5 p.m. – William H. Johnson Prize valued at US$25,000. See Contests and Awards in Opportunities for more information and links.

Summer submissions list (June, July, August, September) – compiled by Emily Lackey at Shewrites.com

October 2015 – submissions open for the BBC World Service International Playwriting Competition. No reason you can’t start writing now. Details here.

October 1st 2015 – Vermont Studio Center – you can apply for one of 50 available fellowships. See Opportunities for Fellowship details or visit http://www.vermontstudiocenter.org/fellowships

October 31st 2015 – I have been both a finalist and a judge of the Burt Award for Teen/Young Adult Caribbean Literature and vouch for this as one of the best paths to publications for writers in this genre. This link takes you to submission information and this one to some tips from the judges room for future winners.

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; 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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It pays to Experiment, It’s essential to dream

“That’s when the hand fell out. Goldine stared. It was just a hand—innocent looking, really, brown with black hairs, manicured nails, bruised knuckles, and a Rolex.” – from The Cat has Claws by Joanne C. Hillhouse

I just came across this noir piece I wrote and can’t remember if I’d shared it here. It’s an example that proves the headline of this blog posting (It pays to experiment…). I’d read but never written noir before. I decided to try my hand at it (because, why not) and what I wrote was picked for publication in Akashic’s Mondays are Murder Series.

More recently, there’s the fairytale With Grace, which I wrote when I was trying to work through some very negative feelings which I decided to channel into this very positive medium, sort of a way of turning that frown upside down I guess. Fairytales, of course, we know sometimes have dark origins and deal with some what could be the stuff of nightmares but, in the fairytale world, they all lived happily ever after, and with that certainty we can get through the bad stuff. The world doesn’t work like it does in children’s stories, of course, but good things can come out of challenges. And out of the challenge that led me to write With Grace came a story I love very much, I really do, because the fairytale form was an interesting and stimulating challenge for me and I also enjoyed colouring outside of the lines a little bit.  I was encouraged when I shared it with the participants near the end of my Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project last summer and they gave it the same treatment we’d been giving, with my guidance, every story they themselves had shared. They critiqued it.

What they thought worked… “very descriptive …the song was good …effective use or irony…good manipulation of the stereotype(s)…good  (haunting) ending…”

What they thought needed work… “(character’s name withheld) interesting but the introduction was abrupt …need more description of (character name withheld), her back story and what she looks like … some explanation of (plot point withheld)…”

Sidenote: one of my nieces was in that workshop and, though I thought she knew, I think it finally hit her that this is what I do, write stories, because she came up to me afterwards and said with a kind of curious wonder in her voice, “Auntie Joanne, you wrote that…?”

Anyway, I listened to the feedback and the story evolved. More happy news, the story was an honourable mention in the Desi Writers Lounge 2014 short story contest and they’ve contacted me about including it in a forthcoming publication.

“This story came ever so close to making it to the top three. With Grace combines feelings of love, hate, greed and generosity to weave a powerful narrative that is magical in spirit and human in character. Hillhouse is an accomplished writer and her elegant prose shines through in this story.” – DWL on their website, re With Grace

This is in addition to my still very early hope of turning it into a children’s picture book. Yeah, looks like the bug has well and truly bit after Fish Outta Water. UPDATE! In 2015, I signed a contract with a children’s book publisher for Grace!

Right now, I’m reviewing edit notes for my forthcoming young adult novel, Musical Youth. By now, you’ve probably heard the story of my 11th hour decision to go for the Burt Award and the story that evolved from that. I’d written stories that have been marketed to the Young Adult market before – The Boy from Willow Bend and Dancing Nude in the Moonlight were originally part of Macmillan’s schooner series for the teen and young adult market, but they weren’t written, I’ve said time and again for that market; they were just written. With Musical Youth, I was keenly aware of audience during the writing, which is unusual for me, because for me its story first, audience second. But somehow during the writing these blended in my mind, I was writing about teens, I was writing for teens. And I was taking a leap. Look how it turned out:

“Musical Youth is a beautifully crafted novel with the leitmotiv of music running throughout it. This is a powerful and credible story of young love between two likeable heroes. The characters’ gradual exploration and growing knowledge of each other is reminiscent of the way a novice would learn how to play a new musical instrument and slowly get better at it with practice. The use of musical images and the regular musical rhythm that reverberates throughout the text will delight young adult readers.” – from the website of CODE, sponsor of the BURT award

second prize for the Burt Award and (once I get past this editing hump) hopefully in short order a book that will become a favourite among young adult readers from the Caribbean…and maybe beyond. A girl can dream. UPDATE! The book’s out and readers are responding.

A recent dreaming spot during the Emerge wellness retreat (https://www.facebook.com/ECaribbeanWomen) ...because I need a picture for this post and why not this one.

A recent dreaming spot during the Emerge wellness retreat (https://www.facebook.com/ECaribbeanWomen) …because I need a picture for this post and why not this one.

The moral of the story , I think, is try new things, in life and in writing; you never know…

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Better Late than…

WSj13_Cover_Med-1I’m just now realizing I never posted the press release announcing the release of Womanspeak Volume 7, the 2014 edition. Huge apologies to Lynn Sweeting, the Bahamian editor of this distinctive Caribbean collection. My only explanation is my seemingly endless computer woes, including lose all of my information for a while, thankfully recovered, and having to send a brand new computer back to manufacturer…but that’ no excuse. Good thing books neither age, mould, nor go out of fashion. Here it is:

WomanSpeak. A Journal of Writing and Art by Caribbean Women, Publishes New Issue

WomanSpeak Books of The Bahamas has announced the publication of the new issue of WomanSpeak, A Journal of Writing and Art by Caribbean Women, Vol.7/2014, edited by Lynn Sweeting.

The new issue, especially themed, “Voices of Dissent: Women Writing and Painting to Transform the Culture,” showcases new short fiction, poetry, fairy tales, essays and art by thirty contemporary women writers and painters in a beautiful, perfect bound, full colour, paperback edition featuring the painting “The Butterfly Effect: The Duchess” by Bahamas painter Claudette Dean on the cover.

Creative work by established authors, prize-winners, rising stars and new voices from fifteen countries around the world make up this long awaited new collection. Contributors include Opal Palmer Adisa, Lelawattee Manoo Rahming, Vahni Capildeo, Althea Romeo-Mark, Marion Bethel, Carla Campbell, Danielle Boodoo-Fortune, Sonia Farmer, Angelique Nixon and more.

Founded in The Bahamas in the 1990s, revived in 2011, WomanSpeak began as a personal labour of love for Sweeting and a few local writer friends in Nasssau, a forum where they could publish their own creative work. After a long hiatus the journal returned four years ago, publishing vol.5/2011 and vol.6/2012. With the release of vol. 7/2014 WomanSpeak is poised to become a noted international literary journal and a valuable forum for contemporary women writers and painters everywhere.

Sweeting says WomansSpeak Vol. 7/2014 “is a must read for women writers and painters everywhere, as well as students of women’s studies and Caribbean literature and art and those who love women’s writing and art.”

The long awaited new issue of WomanSpeak is now available for purchase at Lulu

Watch for announcements about the select bookstores where limited print editions will soon be available. Now available at your local bookstore.


Back cover blurb

WomanSpeak, A Journal of Writing and Art by Caribbean Women, Vol.7, 2014, brings together 30 contemporary women writers and painters of the Caribbean in a new collection especially themed, “Voices of Dissent: Writing and Art to Transform the Culture.” The writers and painters are known and not-yet-known. Some are avowed feminists writing and painting to challenge the unjust status quo. Some are writing stories that are straight out of the headlines as well as stories that never make it to the headlines but should. Some are challenging history’s account of the story of the Caribbean woman. Some are writing new creation myths in which Goddesses do all the work and get all the credit. Some are telling the truth about their lives for personal and political transformation. All are voices of dissent in the patriarchal Caribbean simply because they are women, and women alone, gathering together to share their creative expressions, without the company of men.

Imagine: A feminist literary movement out of the Caribbean. Every WomanSpeak journal is created out of this dream. This issue is not a movement but it is proof one could happen.

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The Long Arm of the Lawless

The Long Arm of the Lawless, a short story by Barbara Jenkins, has won much praise and a trip to Scotland for its author.

The theme of crime writing was introduced during the 2014 NGC Bocas Lit Fest in partnership with Bloody Scotland, Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, and the British Council.

Participants in a one-day workshop, led by two prize-winning Scottish crime writers, were encouraged to enter a mini Bloody Scotland short story competition with the winner being offered an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bloody Scotland Festival as part of an ongoing international exchange between the two events.

Dom Hastings, Festival director, says, “We were delighted to be able to attend the NGC Bocas Lit Fest earlier this year, both to showcase Scottish writing and experience a fantastic festival and burgeoning literary scene. I’m incredibly excited to be able to bring a small piece of this back to Scotland and invite a Trinidadian writer as talented at Barbara to our Festival in 2015.”

As a guest of Bloody Scotland, Barbara Jenkins will attend a crime writing masterclass with the University of Stirling and be introduced to the Scottish literature scene. The author says, “I am thrilled. This is my first crime story but I do plan to continue to mine real life in Trinidad for inspiration. Denise Mina and Allan Guthrie led an inspiring workshop. They even got us started writing at the workshop. From then, there was no way I could just let their gift lie unused. I must thank the NGC Bocas Lit Fest for creating this opportunity.”

The annual NGC Bocas Lit Fest is sponsored by the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago as title sponsor, and is also supported by the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, Courts, First Citizens and Flow. Its local partners include One Caribbean Media. The British Council, Commonwealth Foundation, Arvon and CODE are among its international partners. The 2015 Festival takes place from April 29 – May 3, 2015 at the National Library and the adjacent Old Fire Station, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

See the website: www.bocaslitfest.com  or contact the Bocas Lit Fest at

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