Thursday, December 30, 2010

Caribbean children's books - As we enter 2011

One of my new year’s resolutions is to try to catch up on the technology as it relates to books, their promotion and sales. Thankfully, in 2010 Caribbean publishers began to be more aware of the possibilities of e-publishing and using the Internet for promotion and sales.  Frankly, as a writer, I am looking forward to increased royalties from this new thrust.

One of the ways of keeping up with the changes is to subscribe to newsletters and blogs which give information on what is happening. Everybody seems to have a blog these days  - publishers, agents, writers- you name it: OR/AND they are on Facebook and Twitter ( among other social media). Information overload!!!! One has to choose carefully which to follow.

A very useful newsletter I subscribed to in 2010 is publishing perspectives. com. The articles update the reader on activities and trends in the publishing industry - worldwide.

Here’s a teaser from this page
Imagine the future of books not as physical objects, but as relational databases…
  • Autobiographies, written in semi-real-time as the authors live their lives
  • Massively multi-reader “Choose Your Own Adventure”-like role-playing books where everyone’s choices shape the story
  • Serialized novels, like David Copperfield, only infinite and with alternate story lines
  • Recipe books that keep growing and puzzle books that always have more puzzles
  • Multimedia automobile manuals that self-update by pushing recall warnings and maintenance reminders out to you and to mechanics around the world, who then share their fix-it tips with each other and with everyone else
  • Textbooks where student annotations, highlights, and notes are more valuable than the original text, so much so that students can monetize their contributions
  • Series of technical books built with shared chapters: an update to a chapter in one book automatically updates every book in which that chapter appears
I am fascinated by the possibilities for the future of writing. What do you think?

Remember to vote for my book A Goatboy Never Cries at

Thanks for reading my blog in 2010A happy and prosperous new year to all

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas inspiration for children's story

In my latest book for children Bernie and the Captain’s Ghost, the protagonist and the other five children in the story are all physically handicapped in some way. This is not very common in Caribbean stories; we still have a way to go in accepting and nurturing our disabled people. I have been asked why I chose to make these children disabled.  As usual with the creative process, one is never really sure, but I think the following experience had something to do with it.

For a long time in my house, Christmas was always an anxious time, and I went through the motions but didn't really enjoy it all much. This Christmas, many years ago, changed things, a bit,

One of my daughters having graduated from Mico with a teaching diploma specializing in Special Education went to teach at a school which catered for the disabled.  As Christmas approached and I had my usual anxiety about how it would go, I had an idea to change things. I asked her if the matron of the home where most of the children lived would allow a few to come to us for Christmas day. She was given permission to take six of them home with her, (I think it was because she was a teacher at the school) and we set about preparing for the day. 

By Christmas day my attitude had changed. I realized that in thinking about how to make the children comfortable and give them a meaningful experience, I had forgotten my own fears and negative approach. With my other children we went shopping for presents for the children and took pleasure preparing the Christmas dinner adding things we thought they would specially enjoy.

Not having been around the disabled, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the day turned out to be very satisfying. We were all happy as we worked to make the children feel special, helping those who needed help and so on..  We enjoyed their laughter and pleasure in some of things we had organized for them, and forgot our petty jealousies, anxieties and other (to be truthful) quite selfish woes.

I think what struck me most was that in spite of their physical disabilities they were just - children.Many years later when I came to write Bernie and the Captain’s Ghost, I think it was those six children who ended up in the story having a wonderful adventure as they solved the mysteries at Green Valley  during a strange summer holiday.

P.S.  It would be nice if some good Samaritans would contact Carlong and purchase some books to give to Children's Homes. These kids don't often see themselves as heroes in stories.
Carlong contacts:
phone: 876 9609366
My thanks

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Caribbean children's fiction - A child's view of Christmas

For Daniel
I love Christmas. Presents!  I love Christmas. Presents! That’s mostly what I can think of. This last week of school is not nice. The days just seem so long, while I wait for Christmas. Presents!

Mrs. Chin says we have to practise for the Christmas concert.  Every December we have to practise songs and plays and stuff to amuse our parents. My class is doing the Nativity scene. Someone gets a dolly and puts it in a cradle, and there’s a Mary and Joseph and wisemen and shepherds and angels.

I want to be Joseph, but Mrs. Chin says I have to be an angel. The angels have to sing a whole lot of songs. I am not going to remember them.  I want to be Joseph to help Mary open the presents the wisemen bring for baby Jesus. We‘re not supposed to open  them but last year the girl who was Mary said she didn’t know what Franky sense and Myrth were, but she thought the gold would be a chain or a bangle she could wear.  I think she forgot that Jesus was a boy. Mrs. Chin warned this year’s Mary not to touch the presents, but since she didn’t warn Joseph, If I was Joseph, I would open them.

Anyway, only the bright sparks Melvin and Joanna know  the words of the songs we angels have to sing, so this morning I asked Mrs. Chin If I could be the angel Hark. 

“There’s no such angel.” she barks at me.She doesn't have much patience at this time of year.

“Oh yes,” I tell her.  “He’s the angel who sings, you know ‘Hark, the herald angel sings’” Jeez, you would think  Mrs Chin would know that. If I am Hark I only have to sing ‘Glory to the newborn king’.

Mrs. Chin looks at me with that look grownups have when they are trying not to laugh, then she runs out of the room.Maybe she needs to use the bathroom. Soon we hear laughter coming from the staffroom. Somebody is giving jokes. I guess they are happy. It’s Christmas. Presents!

 I wish Mrs Chin would hurry up and come back. I am ready to be Hark and sing my one line: ‘Glory to the new born king .’ over and over. I can do that real good.

Please vote for my chapter book A Goatboy Never Cries at