Author Interview – Imam Baksh

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Imam Baksh’s manuscript Children of the Spider won first place in the 2015 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature, it was published in 2016 by Blue Banyan Books. in 2018 his manuscript The Dark of the Sea won the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature again. He is the only Caribbean author to win this title twice. 

Let’s Learn more about Imam with his author interview today.

1. Where were you born/grew up? Where is your home now?
I was born on the Essequibo Coast of Guyana, a South American country with an Anglo-Caribbean culture. It’s a farming area but I moved at age 10 to the capital city Georgetown to go to a better school and experienced urban life. These days I have moved back to Essequibo where I live full time.

2. When did you start writing?
For fun? I have a comic I did at age 6. I wrote short stories for fun at about age 11. Even tried to do an alien invasion novel though I didn’t get far. I tried writing short stories for magazines starting at about 21-22.

3. What is your motivation to write?
I enjoy the process start to finish. From the moment when a few ideas and images start to coalesce and become the nucleus or string that a story can be built from. And then I enjoy the crafting of that story by choosing words and laying them down like putting paint on canvas and I enjoy the sense of freedom as I throw open my imagination and I enjoy the reworking of the initial draft of the story into a leaner, more coherent, form and I enjoy going out and promoting the book and hearing from readers.

4. Tell me about the books you have written. How many are there? What genre is it?
I’ve got one published novel, a Caribbean Urban Fantasy YA adventure called Children of the Spider. It was the winner of the 2015 Burt Award. I recently won the 2018 Burt Award for a manuscript called The Dark of the Sea which will be published within a year. In between I wrote a book called The Demise of the Queen’s College Adventure Club which is as yet unpublished.

5. Which one of your characters is your favorite and why?
Mayali, the young hero of Children of the Spider has such a straightforward approach to dealing with problems that it can be quite astonishing the things she does because she has such little sense of Earth society and the conventions we live by. For instance, she sets a ship on fire at one point as a distraction so she can escape the evil sorcerers chasing her.

6. Tell us about your writing routine? What one thing do you need
before you write?
I have no particular routine. I do work best in quiet, so late at night suits me.
Before I write I need to have an idea of what the scene is going to be about. I can create dialogue, descriptions, even actions on the fly as I go along, but I must have an overall  idea of the flow of the scene. I will often sit or go for a walk until I figure that out. Maybe I just need to do the dishes and think about it. But once I have the path mapped, I have great freedom to write in the moment.

7. What advice can you give to a new author or someone interested in becoming published?
I got very lucky to win the CODE Burt Award which provided a path to publication. I don’t know if I have much to say about being published that is useful. To an author who wants to become better, my advice is to join a critique group whether in person or online. The main benefit is that you become better through analyzing others’ stories as well as using the feedback of the group to make your own work better.

8. Which book are you working on right now?
A novel about a 2nd generation Guyanese girl living in Washington DC who returns home’ to Guyana when she finds herself part of a war between ancient magical forces and doesn’t know who to trust.

9. Who is your favorite author?/What is your favorite book?
Hard to pick a favorite author since so much of what I read is based on genre rather than author. But my favorite book is easy: “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  The writing is skilled without being showy and its themes subtle yet clear and all so  entertaining and well balanced in its narrative pull and push.

10. Tell me something that no one knows about you.
I’m still scared of the dark sometimes.

Thanks Imam!

If you would like to be featured as next week’s author please contact me via email at mgomesmckie@gmail.com with the heading Author Feature.

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CHILDREN OF THE SPIDER 

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Mayali, an escapee from a world enslaved by spider gods, finds herself in Guyana, hunting for her father and a way to stop the monsters who rule her homeland from taking over Earth. She journeys from the jungle wilderness to the urban disorder of the capital city, finding allies and obstacles in the alien Caribbean society.Children of the Spider - Covermd

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Duck in the Red Boots an Aunty Marsha Book

Unlike other little ducklings, Duck is quite particular about staying clean. His determination to do just that lands him in quite a pickle every day nevertheless he stands firm for what he believes. This story is a cute reminder that children are people too. They have their own character which when nurtured produces confidence.

www.marshagomes.com

Duck did not like getting his feet dirty at all, at all, at all.

He loved to swim with the other ducklings, but he did not like walking out of the water through the mud. Duck loved flying high in the sky above the trees, but he did not like landing on the dirty ground.

Somehow no matter how hard Duck tried, his feet got dirty every day.One day Duck noticed his feet never touched the ground once he was swimming. So he decided to swim all day long and never come out. Duck swam and swam and swam. He swam up and down the pond. He did the backstroke. He paddled, and he splashed his friends with his wings. The other ducklings rested but not Duck.

I am not going to get my feet dirty today! he quacked

Duck 1The hours passed. One by one the other duckling went home until Duck was all alone in the pond. The water got colder and colder and colder. Duck felt wet and tired. His bill shivered. The feathers stood on his head stood up. As the sky grew dark, he felt lonely and afraid.

“I better fly home,” Duck encouraged himself. “Mom and Dad will be worried about me.”

But his wings were too wet and too cold to fly. Finally, Duck gave in. He took a deep breath and marched right out of the pond, through the icky sticky mud. Squish, Squish, Squish, Slop, Slop, Slop. The mud stuck to his feet. It tingled all over his webbed-toes. Slop, Squish, Slop, Squish, Squoosh, Slop, Squoosh, Slop, Squoosh, Squoosh!

Duck mumbled and grumbled all the way home where his mother gave him a warm bath, and his father made his favorite water grass tea.

The next day, Duck decided he would fly with his friends instead. As Duck flew, he noticed his feet did not get dirty while he was up in the sky.

So guess what? Duck decided to fly and fly and fly and never come down. He flew up and down. He flew high and low. He flew in circles and turned somersaults too. Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh! Duck’s wings felt so light in the air. The other ducklings stopped for a rest, but not Duck. He did not want to land on the dirty ground. So he flew, and he flew, and he flew. Duck’s wings got very, very, very tired. They moved more and more slowly, but Duck kept on flying. Then something happened! Duck dropped right out of the sky!

SPLAT!

Into icky, sticky, gooey, wooey mud! Duck got up slowly. His feet were very muddy. His wings were very muddy. His head was very muddy. Duck’s whole body was very, very, very muddy!

Duck was horrified. Once gain Duck mumbled and grumbled all the way home. Duck’s father scrubbed his feathers clean and his mother made his favorite water grass tea. Duck went to his room and vowed to never go outside again.

Day by day Duck’s friends tried to get him to play outside since no one wanted to stay indoors all day when outside was nice and sunny. So Duck was left to play all alone. Soon it was Duck’s birthday. His parents invited all his friends for a party in their backyard. They hoped Duck would go out and play.

On the morning of Duck’s birthday, it rained and rained and rained. Duck looked through his bedroom window sadly. It was so muddy outside. Duck’s birthday party was ruined so he went back to bed.

Later Duck’s grandparents arrived with a special gift.

“Little Duck, why are you still in bed?” grandma quacked as she sat to comfort him.

“Why so sad on your birthday?” quacked grandpa.

Duck 2

Duck just moaned and rolled over in his bed.

“Maybe opening a present will make you feel better,” grandpa suggested. Grandpa pulled a giant yellow box from behind his back and handed it to Duck.

Duck loved presents. He could not resist opening it. Guess what it was? The most beautiful pair of red boots ever!

Duck put them on and ran outside.

Duck flew and he landed. Plop! No more dusty feet. Duck went swimming and his new boots went too. Glop, Glop, Glop, Squish, Squeak, Squirk! The boots sang as he ran out of the water. No more muddy feet! No more icky toes!

“Wow, now you look like the happiest Duck in the world!” called grandpa.

Later that day when everyone came to the party, Duck marched up and down in his new red boots. He was very happy. From that day on, Duck was known as the Duck in the Red Boots.

Duck 3

Caribbean Books

CBF.33072When I was a little girl I read about far away princess and Christmas in snow. I read about riding horses to school and picking blue berries in the wood. In my books children sang pleasant little rhymes about edelweiss and wore boots made of fur.

I often longed to read about bathing in the rain; about being afraid of the tied up crabs on market day or even feeding your goats before school. The immense and spectacular joy of the mango season is something every child should know about and I was sure Caribbean beaches were just as magical as snow.

My name is Marsha Gomes-Mckie and I am an author and the founder of Caribbean Books Foundation, an online platform that connects the Caribbean and it’s Diaspora through literature. Over the last two years I’ve built a catalog of Caribbean books both traditionally published and self published in all genres. During this time I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that these amazing books do exist.

These books are in souvenir shops, they are in craft fairs, and they are in community book shops.  Hard working authors aren’t waiting to be found anymore they have been taking their books to the community. The problem is they don’t have the distribution power to reach you and me, the way the American and English titles do.

Caribbean Books Foundation will like to change that. I will like to work with Caribbean publishers and authors to distribute fiction titles easily throughout the Caribbean by launching a Caribbean Book Club. This Book Club will distribute a wide range of titles to schools, bookstores and libraries: our own distribution by us for us.

Keep following us on Facebook at Caribbean Books Foundation for updates and our soon to be launched Newsletter on our website www.caribbeanbooks.org.

Feel free to reach out to support our efforts.

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Marsha Mckie – mgomesmckie@gmail.com

Tips 28 surefire ways from the (SCBWI) to keep your book on the radar.

Regardless of how well a book is written, critical praise doesn’t always translate into sales, and often even well-reviewed books disappear, out-of-print within a couple of years. No matter how much publicity and support your publisher offers, you are the best advocate for your book, and there are actions you can take to prolong its life in print.

Perhaps you’re about to publish a first book and have no idea what to expect. Maybe you’re a seasoned pro looking for new ideas on promoting your books.

  1. Begin laying the groundwork for your book promotion six months before your book is published. Write a press release, and e-mail it to newspapers and TV stations closer to the publication date along with a review or two if you have them. If newspapers have a lifestyle editor or a Sunday team reach out to them as well. Keep contacts of reporters and remember to invite them to signings and other events.
  2. Find a public relations ally. If you can’t hire one then barter. Find a friend or a student and you offer to edit their stories and novels for free (forever) in exchange for helping you do publicity. This may sound extreme, but book publicity can be grueling work and it helps so much to have a friend with a sense of humor who “gets it.”
  3. Use the internet, search engines are your friend. Read up as much as you can and look at comments and reviews to find tips about sites you should be reading up on. Check out writing groups and ask for assistance or information on who can help you with your publishing journey.
  4. Make flyers and/or bookmarks. Start with 100 copies. You can leave stacks in bookstores, restaurants and libraries or hand them out on school visits. Always be prepared with something to hand out.
  5. Set up a website where parents and children can write to you and learn more about the world of the book and what you do as an author. Peruse other author sites to give you ideas.
  6. Update your website regularly. Offer creative writing ideas, story prompts and giveaways.
  7. Send out e-mail blasts as often as you feel comfortable, but don’t overdo it; three or four times a year is a good rule of thumb, and only if there are real updates. Be wary of e-mailing in bulk too often.
  8. Create your Facebook page long before the book is due. Post funny saying as well as other books so that you will have a following when your book is finally out that you can interact with. Don’t wait.
  9. Use Goodreads and Booklikes giveaway feature. Readers all over the world will add your book to their shelf hoping they will win a copy.
  10. Join a fiction writers or picture book listserv or online group. There is Goodreads Lovers of Diversity and Folklore Group, Facebook Groups Caribbean Writers, SCBWI Caribbean Chapters and SocaMom Book Club, follow the Anansesem Ezine, Caribbean Books Foundation and other Caribbean Blogs. Look for blogs about the world of children’s literature. There are many great children’s and YA book blogs. Clicking on one will lead you to many more. Children’s and young adult book bloggers are the ones who keep your books alive, ask them to feature you. Thank them. Send them your books to review, but only devote a little time each day to these blogs; you want to be protective of your writing time.
  11. Create your own book tour by visiting literary festivals. Stay with friends and family and make yourself available to promote your book with copies on hand. Rent the cheapest rental car and purchase airline tickets through inexpensive online travel sites.
  12. Visit bookstores before your book comes out—six months is a good rule of thumb. Set up e-mail correspondence with the store manager, or the person in charge of scheduling their author visits or promotions. Over the next few months, set up dates for the book signings/writing workshops. If you just have a handful of giveaways, make photocopies or send a pdf to select book reviewers. This especially works well for regional newspapers or magazines. Smaller papers do a great job of author profiles and reviews if you let them know in time.
  13. E-mail bookstores with your information (book, website, jacket quotes) and follow up those e-mails with store-visits or phone calls. Explain how you are able to offer short writing workshops for kids instead of just traditional readings. Hint: Be upbeat and professional even when clerks can and will be indifferent. You will find the ones who get you, and as for the ones who don’t, move on with grace. Try to focus on the independent bookstores because they are the ones who will hand-sell your book and may have a small sitting are for you to interact with the children.
  14. Set up writing workshops for children in schools, libraries, and bookstores. Lead a guaranteed audience of children in writing their own stories and poems. Make sure art supplies are on hand so the kids can illustrate their creations, and offer to publish any stories that they e-mail you in a special section of your blog or website. The fee for attendance? Have the bookstore require the purchase of one of your books to participate in the writing workshop. Talk to the parents and teachers who attend. Networking can lead to “artist-in-residencies” at schools and more school visits. Keep writing workshops high-energy: MORE participation. Get kids excited through sincere praise, and encouragement, and then up on their feet to read their poems or stories. With older kids and teen groups, smaller circles work best.
  15. Consider having a reading/book signing at a place other than a bookstore. Go to a pizza parlour, a fast food restaurant with a children’s area, a tea house or some other nontraditional place. A friend’s backyard or your own if you like. An independent bookseller will love to sell books, and you’ll be able to woo more friends into coming and bringing their friends. If you have children, your children can run around and celebrate too. Hire or sponsor an up and coming musician for the gig and let them give out their cards or CD’s.
  16. Do as many free writing workshops as you feel you can at first. Do them for foster children, children in juvenile hall, children who are differently-abled – children who don’t have a chance to meet with writers. Publish their stories on your blog if they want you to do so.
  17. Pitch workshops or classes to your Library, Universities or a school near you. It’s free advertising for you and your book and your class. You also get to meet wonderful students in your workshop.
  18. Set up a six- or ten-week writing workshop at a local library for teens or adults wanting to write children’s stories. You will be able to charge, of course, and the bookstore will advertise the class and your book on its website and in its newsletter.
  19. Go support other authors. Show up at their signings and readings and buy their books. Host them in interviews on your website or blog, or simply mention their books in a short review. We’re all in this together, and the more we can reach out and support each other, the more we’ll get back.
  20. Send your press release to your old school, high school, or college. Offer to meet with students from your alma mater to talk to them about writing.
  21. Write an essay for your alumni magazine about writing for kids, or about how you became a writer. You’ll get readers; universities like to hear about their graduates and their adventures. If a rural library asks you to donate books, say yes. Say yes as much as you can. Just do it. If you can’t do it all the time, that’s okay, but say yes whenever possible.
  22. Write an essay/op. ed. piece for a newspaper with a large readership. This will get your name out to more readers.
  23. Record your book at your local Braille Institute, if you have one and offer to do a workshop at its summer reading program. You’ll meet amazing kids who are budding storytellers.
  24. Go to events. Go to SCBWI events or book festivals on your own dime at least once if you have a book coming out. If they cannot offer you a signing during the festival go and meet people. It’s worth it. You will make connections you cannot make e-mailing from home. Tight budget? Stay with friends and family to save money, or contact the SCBWI regional advisor in your area to see if a nearby member might have a guest room available.
  25. Find a local chapter of the SCBWIand offer to do a workshop on setting, plot, voice or anything else.
  26. Write thank-you notes to everyone: librarians, teachers, booksellers. Be appreciative. Don’t whine. Say “thank you.”
  27. Get a GPS navigation device. It really helps out there on the road. Remember, the more you give of yourself as an author, the more you will connect with your readers at every level.
  28. Keep writing. The more books you market the easier it becomes. Keep, keeping on. Give yourself a break and time to be alone to write and just be, so you can gather the stamina needed to get out there again.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a non-profit organization, is one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators. It is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia.  Its mission is to support the creation and availability of quality children’s books around the world.

We accomplish this by fostering a vibrant community of individuals who bring books for young readers to the public including writers, illustrators, translators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers, bloggers, enthusiasts and others. We provide education and support for these individuals and the community through our awards, grants, programs and events. We strive to increase the quality and quantity of children’s books in the marketplace, and act as a consolidated voice for writers and illustrators of children’s books worldwide. Membership in the SCBWI is open to anyone with an active interest in children’s literature from picture books to young adult novels. We welcome aspiring and published writers and illustrators, librarians, educators, artists, students, dramatists, musicians, filmmakers, and others. A passion for children’s literature is our #1 criterion.

In the Caribbean there are two regions Caribbean North and Caribbean South visit the website at www.scbwi.org for more information.

Marsha Gomes-Mckie, Regional Advisor, Caribbean South, SCBWI (Adapted from SCBWI’s tips.

Alice’s Wonderland

Have you ever sat and watched a children’s show and at the end of it you think to yourself, what the hell was going on with the writer? 

This was me with the 1957 version of Alice in Wonderland this week, which my daughter adores. I on the other hand can’t help but read so much more into the poor show!

Here goes … 

Alice in Won

I am sure i missed some … will watch it again to see. 

 

 

Batik

'Stirred'

A handed down traditional way of uniquely designing  fabric that can be used for home furnishings or various apparel. A ‘resist’ technique that prevents dyes from penetrating the fabric, the designs can be simple or complex, be tactile, by way of vision, texture, or comprehended through perception or interpretation.

For ions, Batik has found a home in the hearts of many artisans throughout the World. Acculturated over the years it survives, being handed down with new-found appreciation, application, composition and authentication of the artists that shares its deep reservoirs and thus it morphs and simultaneously maintains a solitaire, antiquated, yet unborn status in the minds of all who venture to exercise curiosity.

The basic tools needed to produce a Batik piece are as follows :

100% cotton material, bees-wax, paraffin, stove top, pot, wooden or metal stamping tool, padded surface for the application of printing and absolutely no prerequisite of…

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Review of Kidnap

I ran across the Halle Berry movie Kidnap on the #Firestick that i wanted to see for a while but life kept getting in the way.  Let me tell you how it went. Yes, why didn’t she take her son with her when she got the call. Why wasn’t her eyes on him, all the time, she was close enough to see him but she turned around. It’s a dumb mistake but we know he has to be kidnapped so i let it go.  I’m quarter way through the show and it’s not what i expected. The initial chase is weird, why didn’t she run over these people when she got a chance.  Why didn’t she ram the vehicle early on, on the highway.

Geezanages, i’m screaming “the kidnappers just got out their car and walked towards yours and they are still alive.”

Ok, so the show is kidnap, i remind myself again so i know most of the show he has to be kidnapped but i am halfway through now, wanting to switch it off until the mama rage kicks in. I love the mama rage which stays true until the end. #mamarage

kidnap

I would watch it again, not for a while though but it passed my show-meter.  #HalleBerry gave a realistic performance, the writing drags a bit but it ends well.  Every mother i know will go the distance #mamarage, it’s hard to watch a child being kidnapped on film, to even live it in your imagination breaks your heart.

Overall it was a good watch.

 

 

 

Book Review: The Protectors’ Pledge: Secrets of Oscuros

Another great review.

The Protectors’ Pledge: Secrets of Oscuros by Danielle Y.C. McClean is the 2016 third place winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.

JV is an adventurous eleven-year-old boy on vacation from school. He lives with his grandmother who is the quintessential Caribbean granny; she loves to feed everyone who comes to her house. She is also the ‘medicine woman’ in their village.

JV has plans of exploring the forest for the vacation, he is very excited, but his grandmother and other villagers discourage him from doing so because of their suspicions and beliefs that the forest is the home of mythical/folklore creatures.

JV defies his grandmother and goes further into the forest that she has instructed him to. On his first visit, he goes with two friends, but they leave separately, and JV sees a strange woman in a river that makes him curious about who or what she was. He suspects that…

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Book Review: Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell

#CaribbeanBookReview #BurtAward

Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell is the 2016 second place winner of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature.

Fifteen year old Desma could not be more excited about her upcoming sweet sixteen birthday plans. She has also recently won a very prestigious scholarship that would give her the opportunity to become an Actuary.  Everyone is happy for her and her life is seemingly perfect until a boycott threatens to disrupt, even cancel her birthday lime at the local cinema.

A group named the Progressive Group has initiated opposition to segregation in Bermuda. At first, Desma is very annoyed at the disruption until several unsavoury incidents happen to her and her family. She changes her view and decides to do something about it.

This is another deserving book from the Burt Awards. This book can be of interest to children in primary and secondary schools. It shows the growth in Desma’s mindset when she…

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Protector’s Pledge a gripping mystery

A review by Debbie Jacob for Trinidad’s Newsday. A big shout out to author Danielle McClean

Repeating Islands

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A big shout out to author Danielle McClean, who was my student at Vassar College!!

A review by Debbie Jacob for Trinidad’s Newsday.

Don’t be surprised when you read the annual CODE Burt Award-winning, Young Adult (YA) novels, and feel that you prefer a different order for the three winning books. They are so close in literary merit and so different in genre or writing style that I find it is difficult to rank the winners in any particular order. In my book, they all deserve first place.

Today, I introduce you to the third-place winner, Secrets of Oscuros: The Protectors’ Pledge by Trinidadian-born author Danielle YC McClean, who now lives in the state of Tennessee in the US.

Combining folklore and adventure into a gripping story about identity and how we perceive ourselves in the world, McClean constructs a genre-bending mystery, which appears to be the first book…

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