Sunday, June 17, 2012

Telling the Truth About our Experiences as a Body

Guest post on my other blog click link for entire article:

On Virgina Woolfe's now famous quote about killing the angel in the house, as response to a poem/ poet of her time:

These were two of the adventures of my professional life. The first—killing the Angel in the House—I think I solved. She died. But the second, telling the truth about my own experiences as a body, I do not think I solved. I doubt that any woman has solved it yet. The obstacles against her are still immensely powerful—and yet they are very difficult to define. Outwardly, what is simpler than to write books? Outwardly, what obstacles are there for a woman rather than for a man? Inwardly, I think, the case is very different; she has still many ghosts to fight, many prejudices to overcome. Indeed it will be a long time still, I think, before a woman can sit down to write a book without finding a phantom to be slain, a rock to be dashed against.

Posted by Brandon at 12:43 PM

Monday, June 4, 2012

Oscar Nominated Writer-Producer-Director shares his tips with young writers...


Oscar nominated Writer-Producer-Director, Pen Densham (Trilogy Entertainment) wants to share his latest screenwriting blog post with you, below!

“One thing I know for sure; without writers, we in the entertainment business are aimless wanderers looking for a place to be. My thanks to Pen for this inspirational book.”
Morgan Freeman
Academy Award-winning Actor

“As a director, I cannot achieve my goals without the help of creative and courageous writers. Pen’s book is unique in that it addresses the entire landscape of movie writing as a career, and most especially encourages artists who write from the heart and strive for originality.”
Ron Howard
Director / Producer / Writer / Actor

 Pen’s 10 Secrets to Writing Success!

1. Write from your heart! As a writer, trust your instinctual creativity and write from your passion. When you don't value what you create, why should anybody else? When you chase a fad or a fashion that is not from your heart in an effort to sell something, there is a danger when obstacles come, you will soon abandon your efforts.  When you love what you are working on – it feels less like work and more like a personal discovery.  It brings your original and unique voice to the front. Even when you are hired to write – bring your authenticity to the game. Passion is a great way to help immunize your self from the pain and uncertainty of the artistic process. And sometimes it can be enrapturing.

 Things are beautiful if you love them.

Jean Anouilh

 2. Don’t worry about rules. Collect ideas anyway they come. Write the way things feel to you. Have fun!  A well laid out script with no feeling is crap no matter what. I often break supposed cardinal rules. I write my scripts partly as poetry, my character's thoughts in the descriptions, I write in BLOCK LETTERS to make points: etc. I call it fusion writing. Write from your voice. Imagine there is a roof inside your head that limits your upward thinking. Now reach in and toss it away.  Your personal creative universe is up there!  A fresh, inventive and passionate script is more likely to sell. More likely to attract major actors. More likely to satisfy and grow you as an artist.

Rules and models destroy genius and art.

William Hazlitt

3. Don’t overwhelm yourself.  Scripts are not as complex as they seem. Movies are really short stories. If you took all the white space out of a feature script and looked at it just as prose – there is probably only 40 to 60 pages of words. Features usually break down into three acts - beginning - middle and end. Yep!   (Maybe in a shuffled order if you use flashbacks).  ---- Act 1 - The characters get into gear. Act 2 – they explore but fail to reach their goals. Act 3 – they recover and develop as people as they struggle to reach their ultimate resolution. Scripts are often not as complicated or as overwhelming when you look at them like this.

 I don't think there's any artist of any value who doesn't doubt what they're doing.

Francis Ford Coppola

4. Ignore your inner nagging thoughts. They are seldom accurate perceptions of what you are actually achieving. It is deeply unfair to criticize your navigation skills when taking a journey into unknown territory. Try not to demoralize yourself.  I call my first draft “the Lewis and Clark”.  Any freaking way to the coast - is the correct way!  Do not criticize yourself for the odd wrong turn, the weather slowing you down, having to stop for supplies. - There is no bad route when you are on a voyage of discovery. Just keep going!  Look at your early script drafts as explorative, until you find solidly what you like. When you get to the Pacific Ocean – your script’s ending, celebrate!  Next, put the freeway through with a polish, knowing what you have discovered and which signposts are needed to bring your readers on the journey with you.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. 
Scott Adams

5. Give your main characters a major flaw in their back story. I struggle to find my character’s inner demon. Usually one, defining horrific incident in their lives that they have not recovered from or invested their courage in changing. I call these back story incidents “Nuggets”. Like the seed in a fruit, my story is really servicing the character overcoming this damage and becoming who they should be.  The character is defined by the effect of his or her demon. When the character struggles to change – we see the conflict in their soul and root for them to become the fulfilled person that is crumpled inside.  Even villains are heroes in their own mind and can have a potent back story issue, a nugget that drives them. I firmly believe we are creatures who are evolutionarily conditioned to pay deep attention to the behaviors of others as a survival and success strategy. It makes the writer’s task much easier when you realize your are exploring a nugget, a single very simple but compelling internal human story.

 And by the way, everything in life is writeable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt.

Sylvia Plath

6. Don’t judge your progress by other finished movies.  Evaluating your fledgling work in comparison to the successes of others can be demoralizing. You don’t know how they got made. Maybe their journeys were more perilous than you think. Regard your first draft as a pencil sketch. When museums Xray the paintings of great masters, like Leonardo Da Vinci they find many false starts, sometimes total compositions that have been erased or painted over. Does that mean that Leonardo was an indecisive idiot? Being perfect is impossible!!!  Expect some road bumps on your creative journey.  Writing is naturally a series of discoveries, growing your vision is a normal part of the artistic process.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Pablo Picasso

7. You are never too overwhelmed to write!  How to fight procrastination.  WRITE A SINGLE LINE A DAY. This is the most undemanding and easiest way to overcome resistance and writer’s block. Make a point to open your files and write the least threatening amount of work. One line!!! It keeps your mind primed – even on a day filled with the clutter and debris of modern life – you will have assigned a portion of your personal processor to the task of your creative passion.  It will be working away in the unconscious. Truthfully, we don’t write – we get out of the way and let our inner mind free. And some days when you are only going to write “just one line” – you will find a treasure of new thoughts pouring forth.

 If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

Vincent Van Gogh

8. Choose carefully who you share your early work with. I never show a first draft to the outside world. I share it with trusted people who I call Story Midwives. Empathetic kin, who understand the artistic process. Sensitive people who want to help you push through the pain of creative birth without making demands about what the child should be.  Midwives help my child grow with supportive comments. So they get strong enough to face the less caring and dogmatic business world it will eventually have to succeed in.

 Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.

Jonathan Swift

 9. Trust your brain to solve your problems. It is normal not to have all the solutions at once.  Take a break when you run into a block. Sleeping on it – works! Tell yourself you are just playing – don’t make the stakes gigantic. I find I get some of my best ideas in the shower. Using my muscles seems to free my mind. All art is built on the foundation of the discoveries of others. Sometimes I watch other movies that feel like they might inform me.  Ideas often are ricochet from the screen into my head and come out as entirely different but powerful contributions.

Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal.

Igor Stravinsky

10. Treat your work with the respect it deserves. You have invested a lot of time and effort. First impressions are important. You need that financier, star, director, etc to see the best version of your work. To sell a script that is the foundation for a large investment, it must make sense to the widest audience. Before your script goes into the wild: Proof the spelling. Make the layout as eye friendly as possible. Make sure that your story points are really clear; I call this “A-hole Proofing”. Every obstacle you remove to a good read is one less reason for a pass. Use trusted readers to give you feed back to make sure you have achieved your goals with clarity. Then share it with the rest of the world.

 True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.

Albert Einstein

11… huh?    I said no rules!

 Find an emotionally powerful title. A great title is like the wrapping on a gift it. It makes you want to open it! – Did the word SECRETS and SUCCESS in the headline above get you to read this… mmmh?

I love to share my observations, philosophy and hopes with fellow artists. I consider it a great honor to be a literary Story Midwife to others. But, I also have a rule – “Ignore everything I say that goes against your natural creative instincts”. Your process is sacred to me.

If you would like to download a free chapter, designed to fire up your creativity from my screenwriting book website – click - ( – Good hunting!

Pen Densham, co-founder of Trilogy Entertainment Group, considers himself a triple-hyphenate: a writer – producer – & director.  He and his partner John Watson have been Oscar Nominated twice, have produced 15 features and over 300 hours of television. He writes for both TV and feature films and is personally responsible for reviving  'The Outer Limits' and 'The Twilight Zone' series to television, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and this year he is one of the Producers on Phantom – written and directed by Todd Robinson, starring David Duchovny and Ed Harris. His personal favorite is Moll Flanders, which he wrote and directed, starring Robin Wright and Morgan Freeman.  Pen also teaches as an adjunct professor at USC Film School. His book on screenplay writing for publisher Michael Wiese is "Riding the Alligator: Strategies for a Career in Screenplay Writing ...And not getting eaten”.

© Pen Densham 2012 – please share with attribution

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cinematic Writing - Island Fiction

A mark of the Island Fiction series and all of its six titles, is the cinematic quality of the writing.

Crafting the stories scene by scene with attention to the speed activating quality of verbs, short sentences and moving the story  forward by using timelines that  use flashbacks discerningly, the authors have teen readers asking, "When is the movie for this one coming out?"

Although relatively new and never seen before in our markets, Island Fiction hits the mark in capturing that familiar contemporary feel of book and movie tie-in.

Today's reluctant reader is still a consumer of stories through TV, Film and animation. As writers we can allow this understanding to motivate what we write and how. To write in a cinematic way was the conscious directive of our rewriting process.

In his book trailer, Jamaican author Michael Holgate illustrates the intensity and mystery of his award winning book Night of the Inidgo; (Moonbeam silver medal for teen spirituality). Anyone who has read NOTI will easily recognize the characters depicted in the trailer and identify the scenes. Potentially more of a short film than an ad for a book, young viewers who see it, are left fantasizing about a time and place when this and other Island Fiction stories will make it to the screen - big or small.

Cinema is arguably the most captivating form of storytelling and in Trinidad, the TTFILM CO. has been leading the way by providing grants for writing and producing local work.

With T&T's annual film festival in its sixth year in 2012, there is now a distribution avenue and a growing audience to play to. Finally, we are seeing images familiar to us. Here and now at Home,  we are being entertained by our unique reflections of  fun, drama, glamor, luxury, mystery and comedy; once the exclusive domain of  "Away", and  anywhere but here. And by "here" I am including the West Indian diaspora.

Island Fiction author Francis Escayg has already completed two film projects and if it weren't for the special FX required to bring Silk Cotton Forest to the screen I am sure we would see it at Movie Towne sooner rather than later.

Free screenwriting templates and 'how-to's are a click away. 

Taking time to envision your story as a movie may be a more exciting and creative option than a sequel or a new work - Think about it!

Above All,
Happy Writing,

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sun Tv's SunZen and a Trini Pothound


"...I was scolded once for putting 'those kinds of people' on TV when I sought content from the grassroots in my country. Having had a longer than a short list of eye-opening experience and conversations during my decade in local television, I awoke from the illusion that we are living in freedom.
Broadcasting is simply a way of casting the net of an idea broadly with the hope of captivating audiences who will consume. So it inherently wields the seductive power not only of controlling financially, but  of managing any group of people ideologically.
Whether this is done consciously or not, the outcomes are the same.

We remain a self-alienated people who buy in to the momentary pleasures we are sold by the importing merchant class. This lack of willingness to see clearly and to endure discomfort for unified longer term goals, is only a trend of immaturity. In my mind both God and Change are inevitable. Good Orderly Direction (Julia Cameron) arises when a level of suffering previously endured is no longer  tolerated..."
Blog on to Meaningful Books for more.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


CREATIVITY & THEPRIMRAY SCHOOL TEACHER - Where reading and writing begin!
See my facebook page for  postings, links, and resource content for primary school teachers and parents.

Creativity can be assessed. 
In my course, Creativity & The Primary School teacher we look at a wide range of definitions of creativity and use a multi-faceted assessment of four key characteristics: the ability to generate ideas, to dig deeper into ideas, to follow inner tuition (intuition), to courageously explore ideas that are apparently in direct opposition to your own. 
Through 8 three hour workshops, a number of non-academic exercises and projects are explored and are self assessed, peer assessed and facilitator assessed using my LEAP scale measurement. 
The primary aim of the course however is to increase awareness of ourselves as creators and to show that we are each and all creative without exception. While we study some Creativity theory and explore models of creativity, the intention is to provide practical opportunities for increasing personal experiencing. 
In this way creativity is not taught, but healed. 
Awakening teachers move from a vague sense of "But how creative am I?" to contemplating, " How am I creative?" This specific shift in consciousness potentially transforms their classroom teaching and the quality of time spent with the students under their care. 
By August 2012 two hundred teaching adults would have completed the course.
Regardless of systems of education, syllabuses and national agenda the individual impact is empowered, and may prove greater in our bid for authentic transformation.
Workshop bookings: 868-355-6930

Saturday, May 26, 2012

JOE KHATENA, the co-developer of several creativity assessment instruments, defined creativity in terms of "...the power of the imagination to break away from perceptual set so as to restructure or structure anew ideas, thoughts, and feelings into novel and associative bond" (Khatena & Torrance, 1973, p. 28)
Servol Chaguanas: My "Faith & Fiction - Finding the Hero in Me" Island Fiction slide show. Many of these young adults said they had never read a book in the lives. This was a Friday. After the weekend their teacher called to say many of them had read one IF! title and were swapping friends for another IF! title.
Consider the humble slide show as a simple tool to enhance your read aloud events. Or to create a new point of view for online marketing. Maybe a school that loves your work may build a sponsored fundraising event or paid workshop for teachers around you and your book(s). You in turn may lend your AUTHORity to help the school raise money - perhaps for a lap top and projector (if they don't already have one!) with which to present your slide show.

I create my own slide shows.

Or, once in a while I receive a really good anonymous forward that's been circulating the internet and I'll customize it.

Slideshows take a little time, but are well worth the effort particularly if you create ones that are conceptually strong and timeless. I use less text, as many original photos as I can, and then enhance where necessary with free stock photography and clip art. Audio cues, sound FX and music can help or hinder attention. If you will be speaking while the slides are up, use sparingly and wisely.

Create something that you will reuse frequently.

To tap in to universal appeal the compilation of slides should be high concept, not merely descriptive of what you are saying any way. Think in themes and metaphors.

Use strong titles and slogan-like catch phrases. Make unusual lists. Go for brevity and potency. Most importantly edit yourself deftly and stay on point.

Rather than just presenting your bio, or your book(s), consider an altogether different approach that will offer similar content.

I recently was accosted by an Island Fiction fan. A lovely teenaged girl. She has no access to computers but heard about the series when I presented my slide show, "Writing for a living? You must be mad!" at her school's annual career day workshops three months ago. She breathlessly explained that she had since read all six titles which she found in her library at school and "loved them aaalllll!"

I pressed her to choose a favorite and she reluctantly did. "Silk Cotton Forest," she exclaimed. I asked her if she knew it was written by a Trinidadian author. She shook her head, no. Well she does now.
( Thank  the Serendipity our paths crossed!)

Since it was an opportunity for career day, rather than simply present my work, I created my presentation from their point of view and of course caught their attention with the sincerity of the title.

Another important note: Our counterparts in the so-called First World get paid for appearances and workshops and we should too. Some times I do pro bono sessions, as this career day was, and especially for NGOs or if my gut feels its appropriate. But even charity and not-for-profit organizations find the money for a long list of needs and  "needs".  In my opinion Caribbean authors should value themselves and each other and monetize appearances and speaking fees.

The Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators ( with over 19,000 members worldwide supports this thinking.

A US counterpart may start at US$250. and others may add a few zeros to that per appearance, but of course this is all highly individualized and each person needs to assess what she can offer and what the market will support. It's like any other economic decision.

When I have organized events either for my children's books or for Island Fiction I include other local authors and budget about TT$500. per appearance. Why solicit opportunity for myself alone when I can contribute to  building an entire domain of creative expression?

Sometimes I refuse to make appearances. When big brand commercial sponsors are on board and the organizers have budgeted not even a gratuity for their children's book authors I do not allow myself to be used for free entertainment and baby sitting. Adults here spend $4. on a doubles and $20. on a smoothie and $45. to go into a movie without negotiating.

 Since my practice is to  expand a field of awareness and I have been able and willing to do so from my smaller, individual earnings, then I can see clearly the lack of professional courtesy and vision when it presents itself to me. I can say a guilt-free NO in such instances. I don't believe in running down opportunities or participating when there is a lack of mutuality; nothing degrades the creative soul more.

By playing in to the idea that your appearance alone will help you "sell books" is naive. A royalty share on a book will only benefit the author financially if sales are significant in the tens of thousands and consistently so year after year. This is not because we are Caribbean authors, or children's book authors, it is the business reality of publishing. Many unpublished writers and first time authors do not  invest in  understanding the field they're working in.

Even if you have self-published, it's likely you need to sell a good profit on a couple thousand just  to recoup your costs. In a market as small as the Caribbean reading-for-pleasure market is now, and you'll need to work hard to keep your books in stock and in store front which is challenge enough in your island base anyway. E-books and online sales only skyrocket when you get a good social media campaign going and this too requires investment of time and energy. Many dead and wounded self-publishers are just coming to terms with these realities. So creating speaking and appearance events is  a necessary way to move your work from happy hobby to creative clarity.

Of course, if you can get a sure foot in to any Ministry of Education anywhere, that's a different story.
Which is why most publishers for the Caribbean focus on text books. It's where the money is and most players, not sharing.

When I discovered The Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators online in 2005, I found a wealth of networking and information. I had four published illustrated readers already and had spent seven years and significant amounts of money buying books, and meeting with copyright and intellectual property lawyers to educate myself. I really wish I had known about the SCBWI from the beginning and even after fourteen years, ten published stories and the Island Fiction series I am still L-EARNING anew. That's why I voluntarily founded a chapter for the South Caribbean - to which we will soon appoint a new Regional Advisor, (but that's another blog post).

In my slide show, "Writing for a living? You must be mad!" I speak about earning a loving - (not a typo). Most authors love what they do and love their work and that is something worth valuing and yet may not ever be fully monetized. This love should always be an intelligent love, not a 'chupidee' love. If you are still shy about asking for even a gratuity which will cover your gas and a meal for that day then may I highly recommend the ten week rehab course of Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way". I have been using it to heal and facilitate creativity in myself and others since 1994.

It is really vital to keep your book(s) in print by exploring ways to breathe new life into them. Making yourself available to schools serves a real need in the kids. Our Caribbean children cannot choose our  Caribbean work, if it's not on their media menu. And it's up to us to put it there!

Truly loving our creations means parenting them in the world. If your read aloud or meet the author appearance to teens lack that sizzle they're likely to pass on your book. Supplementing your presentation with a simple, well thought out slide show can add a sparkle that won't fizzle out after your audience leaves you. This means we can earn our fan's reading time and relinquish the old dutiful pressure of having to support local, or having to read because it's good for you!

Not all writers are extroverted dramatists, so the cleverly crafted visual presentation with an unusual twist, can be  useful.  Slide shows or videos  potentially ignite the cinematic quality of your fictitious world and characters. The way we see the world and communicate with each other is changing rapidly and keeping abreast of and employing electronic media is just another tool in your kit.

But remember: it should be creative and catchy, well, if you want to catch readers that is. 

It may make the difference - someone may click download IF! to a Kindle or iPad and another may just run off to the library and read your titles the old fashioned way. Any how you take it, you're connecting  with a fan who  just lll-aahh-ah-ah-vvvves you work!

Above All,
Happy Writing,

Friday, May 11, 2012

To Market, to self promotion beneath you?

To Market, to self promotion beneath you?

Holding on to old ideas about promotion and self promotion may be tempting, but not so helpful.

The key for me  is to sincerely investigate my intentions every step of the way.

If we cannot see our books as a service to others and our duty to ensure that  "some ones" out there at least have the option to receive our work, then why, oh why did we really write at all? 

With this attitude, we unconsciously imply that the book / story is 'ours', about 'me' alone, and all 'mine'.

There is in this, a subtler and greater ego attachment! This kind of  self denial is unnecessary. It is selfless in fact, to  simply let go and facilitate  movement of your work  in the world through you. It takes time, energy, sacrifice and love to do so.

Let me give you a little story (smiles):

When I was pregnant (9 years ago)  Father Thomas Keating, a Catholic monk (an author of many books and articles on fine topics such as Centering Prayer, Attention and Intention and spiritualizing the heart not the ego and so on) came to Trinidad.

I went to hear him the night he spoke at St. Theresa's Church, Woodbrook. He was introduced by then Archbishop Gilbert who said to the crowd, "My role in the Church is mostly as an administrator, I come to sit at the feet and learn from a man who has devoted his life to meditation and silence."

He literally opened the door for everyone present to open their minds and hearts to profound esoteric and even mystical teachings.

Keating, in his 70s at the time, spoke for over an hour, energetically and plainly about every metaphysical, Chopra quantum physics, crystal light beaming concept of spiritual truth I have ever encountered. He sometimes made direct mention of some of these other systems, teachers and authors, and he also contained and applied it all in relevant ways to  the Catholic faith for those who needed it clothed that way.

It was a profound experience for me, ( with no direct bearing on the issue of self promotion,  but which I find hard to extricate from this much loved and often told personal story:) - I remember the entire time a feeling a sense of fulfillment deep within me that arose from my childhood :

A time when I wanted to be a priest! I began to notice that there were no women priests and felt quite uncertain about ever being nun. This was a 7-year-old  time when I pressured
my non-religious family to take me to church, almost having to argue my case some weekends. One day during the celebration of Mass my mother saw me gazing intently at Father Nicholson as he served at the altar. For all the depth and breadth I was experiencing within myself, when she asked tentatively, "What are you thinking about?"
All my shy self could articulate was something trite like, "Father is putting on weight." 
It became a long standing joke for her to retell as a parent (sadly, at my expense).

But I digress, that night  in St Theresa's, something I knew then in childhood was surfacing within my consciousness. Way back then I realized that there was something ineffable lacking and which I could not  articulate as a child. Decades later,  that missing piece was fulfilled through Fr. Keating, and I come to it all in the fullness of my feeling without censorship, shyness or fear:

"I always knew I would finally hear the truth spoken in the Catholic Church, in my life time."

After he spoke,  Keating sat at the back of the church with stacks of his books for sale, and invited autographs. He interacted with his fawning fans, with such neutrality that I understood something more  as I observed him; deeper perhaps than all the words he had spoken that night.

He neither rejected his role as author/ teacher  nor claimed it.  I could detect that he was in no way  ego attached nor had he shied away from, or shirked this duty. 

I opted to witness him as he engaged in the present moment, rather than line up for a book.

I did not have then as much of  the theory and conscious direct experience of present moment awareness as I can access now, yet it was palpable.

In hindsight, I see that for those minutes, I was certainly tuned in to the Present  by tuning in to and with  him. In his reflection  of true self, a lesson of true humility, (very different from false modesty), was transmitted and received.

Such work we may term "marketing", can be understood quite simply without all the images and historical implications that the word itself invokes. Marketing the self now, via blogs and so on,  is simply a matter of employing internet and mobile technologies in a time when we no longer rely on any "Massa" broadcaster and publisher. Why not claim this freedom as a great leap in our evolution, and an opportunity to each follow our own bliss? 

Surely more bliss for any one of us, is a blessing for all!

Until we can say I AM... and know that we are not aggrandizing the ego, but simply stating the sincere intention of self expression from the heart of the matter, we will remain caught in a web of shyness, fits and starts and cramp our legitimate fulfillment with haunting worries of what others think.

The best antidote, is to observe with courage and self honesty what you yourself may think, and deal with that one moment at a time as you create a work and delcare, "It is good."

To write about your own work is simply a way of  including yourself in the ALL - May ALL be happy.

To exclude ourselves from All, is to place ourselves where?

If we are not contained in  All then we are separate, set apart, beyond or even  above others! Cool ego trick eh? And there is much cultural evidence to convince us that we are being selfless in such thinking. All  the while some subconscious destructiveness, is having its victory over us - the fear has had its way with us! Our creativity has been blocked and the flow of good,  that  may be freely given and received dries up.

Contemplating and understanding the ways in which we are productive and destructive to our creativity, is helpful for our  healing as writers/ artists/ performers etc. We are killing creativity all the time! and for what?

Unless you have a publicist doing the work for you, then in my opinion it is unwise to NOT support your creations in the world. Would you give birth to a child and abandon it? ( I guess some do.)

And all the 'successful' writers who appear to do work successfully, solely on the merit of their  work is illusory.  They are, through their work,  simply  paying a cut to their publishers, publicists, agents etc to do such menial work for them. 

Nice life? Maybe.

I don't mind cleaning meh own house and doing meh own laundry so long as it is necessary and helpful for myself and others.

Is that, or get a 8 to 4!

To each his/ her own.

Above All,
Happy Writing,

Thursday, May 10, 2012



Blog on at Meaningful Books for more.

More than a cautionary tale, my intention has always been that IBIS STEW? Oh, No! would enliven an awareness of how each of us can creatively respond to the problems we encounter in the world. The book's epilogue attests to that goal. It is presented as Captain Bad's  log or scrapbook,  after he has been converted from pirate to watchman and guardian of the ibis. In these pages, readers will find a letter from Molly Gaskin and Karilyn Sheppard, (Pointe-a-Pierre Wild Fowl Trust, Trinidad) and real live champions of the scarlet ibis; and finally, tips on how to start a SAVE THE IBIS CLUB!

Consider this: Ways to keep the intellectual property of your published work alive...

The internet is all about quantity. The opportunity to get a hit increases every time you publish a new article on your blog(s) and that means a chance to earn the interest in your published work. It can appear daunting. "What will I write about?" you may feel stumped. But it can be really helpful to keep earning a loving (not a typo), where your book is concerned. We are simply sharing our love not only for our work, but through it. Most of us have very sincere intentions when we sit  to craft and share a story, and risk sharing it with others. A book synopsis doesn't have time for all of that, and yet most of us are keenly interested in what goes on in the writer's world.
1. You can maximize the potential of that book by blogging about it from different points of view. e.g. Connect it to current events, news and other relevant products or projects as I did in my blog post at Meaningful Books today inspired by a TIME World article on the illegally hunter scarlet ibis in Trinidad.

2. Your book has themes worth studying. Define and elaborate on each of those themes in separate blog posts. 

3. Highlight a paragraph or scene and reference other relevant work with a similar theme or scene.

4.  Working through schools and libraries is a great way to connect directly with the audience. Ask beforehand what the group is studying and find links to something in your book. Rather than just reading for entertainment and as a sales strategy, consider how your work can support the teaching and learning taking place in today's syllabus.

5. Reflect on WHY you wrote your story or created a certain character. There is sure to be a wealth of back story that can stimulate ongoing releases of information from you, the author. 

6. We are all interested in what inspires creativity. Share moments of inspiration so that you too can inspire others.

Parents and teachers are very supportive of writers. They appreciate when we do a little background work that helps theirs. Highlighting themes and suggesting ways your book can be used is always met with appreciation. Even, take a little time to find  or create relevant and supporting materials and teaching resources.

The keys are:
- Relevance - look for natural links, it should not feel forced, or like it's a stretch.
- Genuine -  come out from behind the writer's desk and dreams; really align with your audience the kids and their interested adults.

Above all,

Happy Writing! 

Friday, April 27, 2012


The author's animated readings score big with avid fans.
Book ISBN: 9781405099004
"Now that's what I call great writing; but don't take my word for it, read the book and see for yourself." Cherian Gordon, Caribbean Compass

Series Editor's Q & A with the author:

JJ: I call it a prequel to Papa Bois although its a bit of a "spolier" to what comes in the end, but I do this because I feel so strongly that it's a good thing for Caribbean people to make that  connection. Did you set out to write how Papa Bois came into existence or did it evolve into that?

FE: It certainly did evolve into that. And the “spoiler” I think piques the curiosity because many people never thought of this character as having to grow into or to earn the title Papa Bois. It was just accepted that He has always been there, one with everything from the beginning of time.

JJ: The Lorax, a Dr. Seuss creation, is making a comeback through an animated film. It is frustrating knowing that we have and can create West Indian content with similar themes. The Island Fiction series is intentionally cinematic in style and I know you are also writing screen plays, are there any plans to manifest the realm of Goans through  film/ animation?

FE: Actually, it was my first intention to go that route but the cost of producing a film with the epic scale of Lord of The Rings was and still is prohibitive. When I answered the call for submissions and my story was accepted, that was the first alternative step to positioning the work for a future production. So yes, I do have plans to manifest the Goans through film/animation.

JJ: The re-writing process after submission can be quite intensive. I know there were a couple parts of your story that in hindsight slipped through the cracks so to speak. Please take this opportunity to address the elements that didn't get sorted to your satisfaction or that were incorrect based on your original script.

FE: The Goans are my creation. They are half man, half goat and in the Kingdom of Ierie they are the ruling specie. They own the Monarchy that is the Kingdom of Ierie. They were not represented on the cover of the book and in the text they are portrayed as having one horn when it’s supposed to be two. Those are very important details. I also wanted to include illustrations of the various species and characters for two very important reasons. One is that for those of us being introduced to those names for the first time, there will be a reference in the book. The other reason is that our Caribbean people will be familiar with some of the species in a folklore context, but I was going to introduce these characters in a brand new way that I believed would have given new life and created new and more vibrant connections with the target audience. Essentially, it would have extended the experience through merchandising and branding.

JJ: Based on your experience of the re-writing / editing process we went through, were there any specific "Aha"s that improved your story or work as a writer? 

FE Answer:
I truly enjoyed the re-writing/editing process with you. I felt motivated to pursue excellence with every draft, based on your patient approach and informed critiques. The one that stuck in my mind and transformed my approach was when you sent me an email with an analysis of my personality type and how that influenced my approach to writing. It was bang on. My characters live inside my head and I am not always aware that they are not fully formed on paper, so my readers will have a hard time really understanding who they are. I still struggle with that, but now I am aware of it and every time I create a piece of work, you come to me, like Rhe, ( in the book).
JJ:  As an independent, cultural creative crafting work through music, words and film, what motivates you?

FE: I operated in the realm of music almost exclusively, for most of my life. When I ventured into screen writing and filmmaking I began to see the world with different eyes and that forever changed things. I didn’t think about writing a book. It always came to me as something I would do later in life. The thing is I love all of these mediums of expression and as they swirl around inside me like La Diablesse’s powerful magic, they bring me to my truth and part of that truth is that I want to matter in the scheme of things.

JJ:  The awesome thing about books in print, is that we will never know where they will end up. A single copy may survive centuries and pass from hand to hand, heart to heart, in the way that more disposable media, even e-books, cannot/ may not. What is the legacy of Silk Cotton Forest and the array of characters you have created?

FE : Change, and to dismantle the status quo.

Under King Zar's sincere but timid rule, the Kingdom of Ierie is rife with corruption, on the brink of another war and in need of a true leader. Domino, a rebellious, young Goan who seeks to avenge his mother's death, stumbles into the role of Hero only to find an even greater destiny awaits him. With best friend Peenut, a sly mongoose, Domino must leave behind the fun and festive teen spirit of Market Square in the heart of the El Tuchuce Forest. But dodging Lagahoos, outwitting Soucouyants and slaying giant Moongazers in his quest for emancipation from the bewitching power of La Diablesse and her dark reign over The Silk Cotton Forest, leads Domino to love and his life's true purpose.

About the author
Francis Escayg is a songwriter, composer, music producer, screenwriter, filmmaker and now novelist. He has four #1 hits in to his credit: "Sweetest Thing" (Denyse Plummer), "Mornin’ Lovin’" and "White Horse" (Fireflight), and "Meet Me On Level 2" (RF-JAM).  His first feature film, "The Ghost of Hing King Estate", inspired by events in Trinidad in 1971, was released in Trinidad in 2007 and more recently his short film Radica as the finale in the Dark Tales from Paradise compilation. Francis writes from a desire to enrich lives; to right the world and make it better for other children than it was for him growing up in the Oilfields of Fyzabad in the South of Trinidad.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Celebrating Love: Gerald's & Lorry's; and Mine for TIME SWIMMER

Book ISBN: 9781405098984

Available in T&T at RIK Stores

Celebrating Love: Gerald's & Lorry's; and Mine for TIME SWIMMER

Gerald Hausman and his wife Lorry have been "Earning a Loving" (see my last post) for a lifetime. Together they are authors of more than 70 books, of which 35 have won awards. Their work includes adult novels, poetry and children's books. They celebrate their fruitful union annually, not only on their wedding anniversary but on Good Friday. It was the day they first met in the Gallinas Canyon outside of Las Vegas, New Mexico 46 years ago.
"Some friends had a campfire by the river but we chose to climb above to the bare rocks where the ancient flume wound around the cliff walls.......Devout, strained voices came and went on the wind. Moorish chants from another time, a world away. We sat quiet, listening, penitents ourselves. Holding hands, in love. In canyon time." BLOG ON FOR MORE:
Gerald's TIME SWIMMER, I must confess, is one of my favorite ISLAND FICTION titles. 
Like a parent of six children, choosing favorites is never PC, I know, but in celebrating the gift of each one,  I extol the family group of the Island Fiction series. 
With Time Swimmer, Hausman has created a worthy, cinematic classic for the new genre of  Caribbean Young Adult fantasy-fiction.
Hausman gracefully balances the fine edge between turning on teens and respecting 'grown up' concerns; managing without any self-consciousness, to both color in the lines and break free of  conservative constraints. Through a kind of juicy, self-containment he has crafted an ageless, timeless fable. 
Hausman's poetic prose transcends gender, culture and target market. In-keeping with the oral tradition of West Indian storytelling, TIME SWIMMER is a read aloud that never stoops to gimmicks, nor employs dialect alone to prove itself worthy of a place in our culture. (Not that any other Island Fiction author ever did either - this is criteria for inclusion on the list.)
There is something about Jamaican, eleven-year-old Luke's triumphant  journey home to self that not only stays with me, but lives in me somehow. There is a universal sense of fragility here that is so emotionally compelling.
TIME SWIMMER begins with a noose and a juicy mango as the boy's supposed last meal, but the first chapter closes with Luke's heroic rescue of a turtle which is about to be butchered on the beach below. Spontaneously, and in desperation to escape his own axe, (he has failed the Common Entrance exam), he mounts its back and finds himself swimming through Time and timelessness, with an old soul, Odysseus. 
Our journey with Luke through myth, metaphor and marauding dark characters is unforgettable.  Hausman's most blood thirsty characters are not without mercy or frailty, and all are rooted in West Indian history and collective consciousness. There is a meaningful darkness in his tale that is skillfully crafted and never gratuitous; far from. The dark is the harmlessness of an author's broad stroke of night; an invitation to light. It is that which allows Luke to manifest the dawning of his namesake. It is the necessary dive into unconsciousness demanded by the character's circumstances and personal story.  Drawing on nothing outside himself and relying on no sense of Other, every twist and turn into the depths of past, present and future are his life blood, coagulating into story lines and descriptions so we can experience All with him. As he is pressed deeper into the recesses of time-self, we come up for air and cringe, duck for cover, or marvel.  
That Luke emerges free of dependencies, strengthened in the power of saving himself, the reader basks not only in  the light, talent and courage of Hasuman's hero, but in the promise of her very own.

From his blog:
My PhotoGerald Hausman calls himself a "native of the world" after living in so many places in the United States and the West Indies. He spent more than twenty years in New Mexico where many of his American Indian folktales were collected and published. Born in Baltimore, Maryland in
1945, Hausman has been a storyteller almost since birth. His more than 70 books attest to his love of folklore, a passion instilled by his mother who painted the portraits of Native American chiefs. During his thirty-five years as a storyteller, Gerald has entertained children of all ages at such places as The Kennedy Center, Harvard University, St John's College and in schools from one end of the country to the other. Five audio books have come out in recent years and two of Gerald's books have been made into animated and folkloric films. His books have also been translated into a dozen foreign languages.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Earning a Loving - (no typo)

Creating themed content can help build your book title(s)  into more of a brand.

Island Fiction author of LEGEND OF THE SWAM CHILDREN, Maureen Marks-Mendonca creates  'mouse art' images and puts them to a tender, musical composition of her own.

Earning a loving has never been more accessible thanks to the internet, e-commerce and social media tools. More and more of us can cover our expenses or at least supplement our income working in the field which sparks our creative passions. 

Producing and publishing intellectual properties is a form of REAL ESTATE. Through passive earnings, (royalties), and spin off opportunities - speaking engagements, merchandising etc. more and more individuals are loving the ways they earn a living.

It is vital to keep tending your plot.

Creating a website is only like setting up a store front, but who wants to return to a store where there are no new items, not enough content or fresh stock to warrant a comeback? You can't afford to stay static on the internet. In terms of commercial opportunity, using the free social media tools online,  are now the best way to compete fairly and get yourself noticed.

Getting repeaters and increasing traffic can be your experience on the internet - marketing in such a broad, international scope is FREE -  for the first time in electronic media history. Well, it does require an investment of time and creativity. Producing and publishing free content that links to your products is the best way to support your works so they do not just sit waiting for readers to find them. 

Providing a lot of free content is like expanding the capacity of your net so that you may cast it broadly. Potential fans will have an opportunity to explore your world more deeply and are more likely to want to share it with you by purchasing your products. In this way  'free' content that is of meaningful value to your audience,  earns interest so that your book is not just a passive product. 

You, give it life. So loving what you do is the primary pre-requisite.

On creating additional, supporting content : 

1. Set up a  You Tube Channel under your own name or book title; produce a simple book trailer and short interview clips even if it is a 'mock' interview in your own living room. If you can swing something in the local media where ever you are based or create on in a classroom or library, this will obviously increase interest value. Make the content from the audience point of view and less biographical. Share something relevant  you have learned or know about the topic or interest area.

2. Set up a blog and Face Book page. Post relevant content and links and consider yourself a "Publisher" in this context - creating and publishing similarly themed, supporting content. Giving freely is the nature of online publishing and the spirit of the web. Broadcasting your interests has never been easier. Going for quantity over time builds your credibility and increases the opportunity for surfers who share an interest in your themes to find you.

3. Link your free "add-on"s to your umbrella web site but only if you already have one (costly web sites seldom offer a good return on investment and are useful only if  you intend to build e-commerce tools and have a corporate (less personal) vision for your work.

4. Make sure you provide a one-click option, whenever it is possible, to Amazon or where ever your book may be purchased online. The fewer number of clicks to find the purchase button, the better chance you stand to get interested surfers to click BUY NOW. It's like putting the cash register up front and center at the store for customers to enjoy an easy-purchase experience. Don't have them searching page after page and reading all about you first before you link to purchase. Those who want more will invest the time anyway, but those who want to purchase won't hang around and you'll lose the sale.

5. Whenever it is available offer a share tool for FB and Twitter so that fans can help you spread the word for FREE.

Social media tools are being used by everyone.  For just a few minutes per day, or per week you can keep your intellectual property alive by publishing additional, similarly themed content which your audience and potential readers will access freely.

This will keep your name and work in circulation and even build your direct mailing list. Actively marketing your work and growing sales yourself, will create a "track record" which is more likely to clear a path to your NEXT opportunity in publishing.

Above All,

Happy Writing

Monday, January 9, 2012

Delroy in the Marog Kingdom - Book Trailer

Got Fans? Delroy's are showing up everywhere!

Island Fiction fans are showing up everywhere! This fan of Billy Elm's Delroy is in search of the Marog Kingdom. She may find herself  sitting too close to the river when she meets the mysterious River Mumma on the pages of the popular  tween novella. Watch out!
Fan in search of Delroy by the river!

  DELROY IN THE MAROG KINGDOM - Billy Elm "Delroy in the Magic Kingdom is worth more than one read - it is exciting, captivating and dramatic." Cherian Gordon, Caribbean Compass

It's a great idea to link online activity with a fun and relevant marketing strategy like  getting  fans to send  photos of themselves reading the book. Or better yet, reading the book with a background that is a familiar location for your characters, as in photo above.

The key is to help your fans find you and harness their purchasing power by directing them with as few clicks as possible to the action you need. e.g. to shopping cart; to; to a subscription for your newsletter; fan your Face Book etc. Through online marketing 30 fans can easily become 300 fans (wanting  to recommend your current book(s) and buy your next) by the end of the year, or month if you're really crafty and creative about it!

What  IF? got some marketing  gold like Billy Elm did? Get your
as yet unpublished sequel awarded by entering local, regional or international literary competitions!
Delroy and the Marog Princess  won a bronze medal and Best Intermediate Novelist in the Creative Writing Awards Ceremony, 2011 in Jamaica. 

Regrettably, there is no telling  when this novel will be published. The author may explore  self-publishing with print and e-book.  

Getting fans to pre-purchase e-books is one model with which all levels of  content publishers are having success online internationally. To meet the financial requirements of self publishing it's vital that your online presence has the necessary e-commerce set up. In some Caribbean territories this is not yet available, but if you have a trust worthy partner in one of the approved regions that may be just the ticket to get you started.

Be sure to do the maths and measure your expectations reasonably. Publishing windfalls are rare, though just as possible with talking frogs, duppies, time traveling turtles and blue skinned androgynous beings as with wizards and vampires, I'm sure!

Keep the faith and Above All -
Happy Writing,