Tag Archives: BGTT

Moruga Mania Part III – Moruga AC Primary School


Moruga AC 3Visiting Moruga AC Primary School was the finale to a perfect day. Principal Floyd and I were acquainted; he attended my book launch last month and he was a distinguished guest at Moruga RC Primary School graduation.

Moruga AC Primary School also received donations of books and pizza vouchers from Mario’s Pizzeria. The children were as fascinated and familiar with folklore as students from previous schools I visited.

Our intention is to include all the schools we visit in a competition Mario’s and I will jointly host in September/October. Moruga AC is one of the schools that we expect active participation.

I have an affinity for respectful and well-behaved children and I most certainly met some at this and the other Moruga schools; even the infants who I expected to be more rambunctious.

By nature I am a shy person, so interacting with pleasant, open and welcoming people is a great comfort to me. I hope I left them with the same warmth because I enjoyed my time with them immensely.

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Moruga Mania Part II- Moruga RC Primary School

Moruga RC 9I was invited to be the guest speaker at Moruga RC Primary School graduation. This is the first time I have had such an opportunity, and though I appreciate that it was a special day for the graduates, it was also a day that I would never forget.

The Principal, Mrs. Sharon Palloo and I have been communicating since I introduced her to Selima and the Merfolk. She loved the book, hence her invitation. To flatter me further she themed the graduation about the book (‘Dream higher than the sky and deeper than the ocean’).

Brand Manager of Mario’s Pizzeria Limited, Ms. Bajnath accompanied me to the graduation. Mario’s donated copies of Selima and the Merfolk to the school library and gave all the graduates pizza vouchers.

I was very nervous to read my speech, but I kept with my process that is writing honestly and from the heart. After the graduation, several distinguished guests and parents congratulated me so I guess I did a good job. I expected a much smaller crowd, not that it would have made a difference to my nerves. It was pleasing to witness that the school is supported by neighbouring and out of district principals and several heads of affiliated educational bodies (i.e. TTUTA, Catholic Educational Board of Management and Ministry of Education).

Ms. Jayriel Charles, Current Female Primary Schools Cricketers of the Year.

Ms. Jayriel Charles, Current Female Primary Schools Cricketers of the Year.

My greatest and most pleasant surprise was learning that Moruga RC is a very accomplished school. Most schools have trophies but not every school can call themselves the current national champions in both cricket and football and have the female recipient of the Primary School Cricketer of the Year, Ms. Jayriel Charles.

The following is a list of their many accomplishments from the year ending 2013 to the most current.

·         National Primary School Football League 2013 Under 11 Boys MVP
·         National Primary School Football League 2013 Under 11 Boys -SEED Champs
·         National Primary School Football League 2013 Under 15 Girls  MVP
·         National Primary School Football League 2013 Under 15 Girls  SEED Champs
·         Moruga Primary Schools Athletic Annual Marathon – Overall Winner Female
·         Atlantic National Primary School League Final Man of the Match Girls (Cricket)
·         Atlantic National Primary School League Inter-district Girls Champion 2014 (Cricket)
·         Moruga Zonal Sports 2013 Under 11 Victor Ludorum
·         National Cricket Girls- 3rd Place
·         Favorite Spelling Bee- 3rd Place (South Eastern) 2013
·         Moruga Parade of the Bands 2014  Pretty Mas Queen
·         Moruga Parade of the Bands 2014  Pretty Mas  1st Place
·         Moruga Parade of the Bands 2014  Ole Mas 3rd Place
·         Moruga Parade of the Bands 2014  Traditional Mas 3rd Place
·         Creator of Moruga’s Annual Easter Bonnet Parade
·         East Indian Arrival Display in collaboration with the Moruga Museum
·         Parenting Workshop in collaboration with UNESCO
·         NALIS & The National Commission for UNESCO –  “Our children Read to their communities” 1st Place & 2nd Place
·         Annale Pierre representing  T’dad at the C.U.T. 2014 games – Gold Medal Cricket Ball
·         Participation in 2014 Voluntary Beach Clean Up with MP for the area Hon. C DeCouteau
·         National Primary School Female Cricketer of the year 2014 – Jayriel Charles
·         National Primary School Girls Cricket Under 15 Semi Finalist

·         2014 – National Primary School Girls Under 15 Football Champions
·         National Primary School Games Gold Medalist
·         2014 – Cricket Ball Girls Under 9
·         Runners Up In The Moruga Zonal Athletes Competition
·         Traditional Mas – Moko Jumbie Sailor
·         Pretty Mas Female –“Goddess Of The Sea”
·         2nd Place Junior Traditional Mas Band Of The Year
·         1st Place Junior Pretty Band Mas Of The Year
·         2nd Place Junior Calypso –“Do Something”

Colour Me Impressed. Excellent!!!!!

Being a part of this school’s graduation was an honour I am not sure I deserve. It was my absolute pleasure to be a part of such an important occasion and I hope to continue my relationship with the school.


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Moruga Mania Part I – Santa Maria RC Primary School

Santa Maria 3It is a privilege to have an opportunity to do what you love, but it is a blessing to enjoy and share it with others, especially children. Last Thursday my sponsor, Mario’s Pizzeria Limited and I visited three schools in the Moruga district. Our first appointment was at Santa Maria RC Primary School.

Santa Maria is a very small and modest school. It reminded me of my first primary school, Las Cuevas Government. The Principal, Mrs. Gopaul – Francis contacted Mario’s to commend them on their current initiative, and she invited us to introduce her students to my books, Selima and the Merfolk. Presently, Santa Maria is on a literacy drive in their community. Mario’s and I were happy to help as we appreciate that the community is crucial to nurturing our children.

My session at this school was delightful. The children were exceptionally well-behaved and respectful. These mannerisms were prominent at all three Moruga schools, so I must congratulate the principals and teachers who I have noticed are a close-knit group.

The children were a pleasure to read to and we had a lot of fun in the question and answer segment. Mario’s Brand Manager, Ms. Bajnath was on hand with pizza vouchers for the winners and crowns for everyone. Mario’s also donated copies of Selima and the Merfolk to the school library. This collaboration was another successful venture. I hope to have an opportunity to visit this school again. Meeting wonderful children always makes me hopeful of the future.

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OMG Magazine Feature

OMG Magazine FeatureI am featured in this weeks OMG Magazine on pages 20-23. OMG is a local digital magazine with a very large following. They feature many different local artists and personalities.

OMG was my first formal interview and photo shoot. I was a lot more nervous for the shoot than the interview because posing makes me incredibly self-conscious, and I was fighting the worse cold I ever had. Ever since I can remember I was always the girl who would rather take the picture than be in it.

Two Fridays ago, my book launch was covered by a local newspaper. Although I was ecstatic to be in the paper (my first time), the photo was very unflattering. I didn’t dwell on it too much because it was a good article – Newsday Article. I crossed my fingers and toes that I would like OMG’s pictures and promised myself to practice not closing my eyes when the flash goes off.

My photographer was Mr. Stephen Doobal. Mr. Doobal was very professional, and he made me feel comfortable. I explained to him that I was a writer and not a model, so please have patience with me, and he did. Being self-conscious is to my detriment now. I am not Naomi Campbell and will never be. However, I am pleased with the entire article and hope to work with OMG again soon.

Thank you Mr. Stephen Doobal and Ms. Amelia Ramjarrie.

Selima and the Merfolk Official Book Launch

X7LK8PS_qWo0rAN0ebiwAOGTL6bc3UcwhfVTjT41UdQ,AtJqtkI2GGhu3Co314I7HUttahHA2kdacIOEQVSj-gc,MYMyO6ni_fuF_GzIB0DihMDEVXBlLSKOpfUPXyDEKHMLife is a busy thing that we are forced to attend to every day. Sometimes when we work hard and smart we create milestones that, unfortunately because life is going on, they quickly fade from our memory, or we never stop to acknowledge them at all. Friday 29th May 2015 is a date I will never forget or take for granted.

T5sv-s8u2DOw7-nviqwWHQDplKMZfIShca64bLm-OfU,-tLRRbnZks3pdz6hnxYqmMoaIX6qrLfmUb8UtegRswoI hosted my first book launch for my young adult novel Selima and the Merfolk. It took a lot of correspondence and planning to get everything together (guests list, photographer, sponsors, location, model, costume etc.). As I think about it now, the launch might have been more work than writing the book, even though the launch took about two months to plan, and the book took three years to complete. The pace was different. However, I would not trade the experience for anything. I feel like I have learned so much about the process and business of writing. I still have a lot more work to do as SATM is the first book of a series.

My heart is full of gratitude; I feel the same level of excitement and satisfaction that I did on Friday. The launch worked out perfectly. It began with a lively raffle of books, courtesy British Gas T&T. Their Head of Policy and Corporate Affairs, Mrs. Candice Clark-Salloum attended the launch and presented the books to the many unsuspecting students.

Mr. Kasi Sengor was the first guest speaker. He accurately captured my journey as a writer, as he has been a source of support to me from the beginning. I was very insecure when I began writing (short stories) but with his help I learned to accept advice and constructive criticism.

Illustrator Jason Javis spoke next. He gave an encouraging speech about the process of designing the cover that he did in conjunction with Mr. Derick Smith (Graphic Artist). I appreciate the depth he went into about his process because though the children were shy to question him, I noticed how captivated they were while he spoke. Maybe one of them will be encouraged to be an Illustrator.

Ms. Sophia Lezama of Bishops Anstey High School East read an excerpt from SATM. She read so eloquently that even I felt like I was hearing the story for the first time.

Next was me. I had a lot to be grateful for and wanted to make sure I acknowledged each group of people who helped me along the way, in some shape or form. I am so proud of myself … I didn’t cry.

uI8mTV61q_i7XU_O8zVqRFpkE1ZHa-hUWVcB_H1MBxk,4klOnc4fk-4W3Nxs3a8d6JDfqNragEaX_X2g-IJPFh8,zCfRYNLL_Y42Fx_mKNvBH_iwVCe8-ICpYBFYCwA3650Marios Pizzeria Limited closed the program with three delicious door prizes. Incidentally, one of the winners had only been at the library to view the room that my launch was held, and she decided to stay.

All in all, all is well. Thank you to my sponsors British Gas T&T and Marios Pizzeria Limited. Their contribution added an excitement and quality to my event that I would not have been able to create on my own.  I appreciate their donations, and I am sure that my guests did as well. Thank you to all the people who helped me put the book together, all the teachers and students who attended and reviewed the book, NALIS – for reviewing the book and allowing me to use their premises, my mermaid Melinna, all my friends and family, and the guests who popped in and were compelled to stay for the entire programme.

I will never forget my Selima and the Merfolk book launch and all the support it took to make it successful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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For more photos of the event please visit my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.716696675143536.1073741834.186085661537976&type=3

All photos by Louis Ramdhanie/Spawn Software Designs


School Visit – Blanchisseuse Government Primary School


Last Friday I did something that I had never done before; I visited a school in the capacity of an author. The school was Blanchisseuse Government Primary School. As a ‘brain cooler’ Ms. Noreiga, the teacher who jointly teaches standard four and five read Selima and the Merfolk to her class. She read a few pages a day until they completed the book a few months ago. During the weeks Ms. Noreiga read the book to her class she would send me messages, telling me how much her class was enjoying the book and how insistent they were that she read to them every day. The children also sent messages through her, my favourite was that the book should be a movie. With all those beautiful, encouraging messages I promised that I would visit these students and read to them as they had requested.

It is good manners and good practice never to visit people (especially children) without carrying a gift of some sort. Fortunately, I was able to organize quite a few treats for the students. Brand Manager for Marios Pizzeria Limited, Ms. Amrita Bajnath accompanied me. The children received Ms. Bajnath with open arms; they were very responsive to her. Marios Pizzeria Limited donated books to the school as well as several pizza vouchers with certificates of achievement for the many challenges the children enthusiastically participated in.  British Gas Trinidad and Tobago donated books to the school as well, and Movie Towne donated movie passes that we used as prizes for the challenges. Selima and the Merfolk T-shirts were also given as prizes.

The pictures speak for themselves. We had a BALL!!!!! Not only did we have the most beautiful setting, under the shade of a cashew tree, our backdrop was an unhindered view of the ocean. The weather was fantastic, and the clean, strong ocean breeze only added to the experience.

Among other things we spoke about folklore; three students even told me stories. I read to them from what I had selected, and what they spontaneously requested I read. All the children were in full participation, so much so that Ms. Bajnath had to step in to help me choose students to answer the questions.  What was most outstanding to me was that the students who knew the story (some standard three students joined us) still remembered so many details. It has been several months since they heard the story.

I hoped that my visit would be pleasant, needless to say, it exceeded my expectations, and I think the teachers and Ms. Bajnath’s as well.

Thank you to the teachers and students of Blanchisseuse Government Primary School. You have made my first school visit such a success and a fantastic experience. I would surely visit the school again when book two is published.


More photos can be view on our facebook page Selima and the Merfolk

All photos were taken by  Spawn Software Designs


Stacey Alfonso-Mills Profile Picture 2014The question of whether to self-publish or not is a constant one – even for me.  My decision to write and self-publish my first children’s illustrated storybook in 2009, was driven by the lack of traditional publishing options in Trinidad & Tobago (and the wider Caribbean) at the time, and also because I was keenly curious of the entire process.  For me, it appeared to be a unique opportunity to understand, first-hand, all the elements required to realize my dream of producing a book that someone else would enjoy.

Between 2009 and 2014, I wrote and self-published three children’s illustrated storybooks: The Boys of Sinclair Hill (Fun in the Backyard) 2009, The Boys of Sinclair Hill (The Princess, The Treasure and The Blue Dragon) 2011 and Manatee has a Question 2014.  I also published my first colouring book – Manatee has a Question Colouring Book.  Throughout this journey, I can safely say that each self-publishing process has taught me something new and valuable, both professionally and personally.

As a working mother of three, just finding time to be creative and actually write is a challenge and the decision to self-publish added new levels that I simply had to learn every step of the way.  In addition to being the writer, as a self-publisher the author immediately becomes responsible for:

  • Sourcing and working with an illustrator or graphic artist,
  • Sourcing and working with a graphic designer (to prepare your book in print ready format),
  • Preparing and administering working agreements,
  • Registering your International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and obtaining the Bar Code for your book,
  • Proofing and editing your work or sourcing a professional proof-reader and/or editor,
  • Production (sourcing and working with a printer whether locally or internationally).
  • Financing (sourcing the initial capital to cover registration, illustration, graphic layout, printing and/or shipping costs),
  • Marketing and Public Relations
  • Sales and Distribution

Because of my business and communications background, some of these roles were easier for me than others.  For instance, I was fortunate to find and work with two very talented illustrators and graphic designers over the course of my three books.  Equally, the Public Relations element and the preparation and administration of agreements were comfortable areas for me during the self-publishing process.  However, my greatest challenge is that I continue to bear the financial burden of producing and publishing my books.

Like many other self-publishers, I have encountered difficult situations during the self-publishing process.  For instance, in 2009, my experience with the first local printer I worked with ended badly with many poorly printed books (which I refused to accept) and very high costs.  From this experience, I learned that I was determined to maintain as a high a standard as possible in what I produced.  Then during the publishing of my third book, between 2013/2014, I encountered my very first Internet-fraud incident while working with a printing agent in China (despite having done business with this agent successfully on several other occasions).   This particular incident was a hard lesson to learn, but I realized that I had taken for granted, the accessibility and ease of forming international business relationships and conducting international business transactions via the Internet.  So while I was forging ahead with my printing agent across the globe in China to print my newest book, hackers had perfected their craft to the point where both my agent and I were caught off-guard.  While I was unsure how to proceed at that point, I relied on my support system to guide me through to the next step, which led me to a Print on Demand company in the United States and we were able to bring Manatee has a Question to life.

Self-publishing will always have its ‘amazing’ moments as well as its ‘help me I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’ moments.  Of course certain challenges depend on which part of the world you are writing from.  A major challenge for self-publishers in Trinidad and Tobago is the absence of financial or any other meaningful type of support for local authors.  The cost to self-publish is directly related to the quality of product you produce and publish.  The better the product, the more expensive it becomes.  The opportunities now available for local authors to self-publish, market and sell their products via social media, have certainly encouraged more local authors to contribute to the literary landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean region and the rest of the world.  This seems like a perfect opportunity for the public and private sectors in Trinidad and Tobago to partner with local authors with a goal to preserving history and culture while fostering cultural identity.  Other challenges include the lack of support from mainstream bookstores to promote and supply local literature in all stores across the country.

The good news for authors, who may be considering the self-publishing route, is that the awareness of local literature is continually growing.  For instance, the Librarian for the children’s section of our National Library (NALIS) is a keen supporter of local literature and encourages book launches and visits from local authors to create a cultural awareness among the children visiting the library.  Equally there continues to be a great deal of interest and support for local literature from non-main stream book stores, cultural shops, school teachers, parents, NGOs (or anyone working with children and literacy) and general citizens who simply desire and appreciate local literature (particularly children’s literature).  There is also a high demand for local literature from nationals residing outside of Trinidad and Tobago as well as expatriates residing in Trinidad and Tobago.

For me, the decision to self-publish created an opportunity to expand my knowledge of marketing through social media, which is crucial for building a networking base and developing a writer’s platform.  I also discovered that having author control from self-publishing allows me to collaborate with schools and/or NGOs on literature programmes and perform book readings at schools.  Book readings allow me to interact freely with my direct customers – the children.  If a children’s author wants a truly honest book review, then perform a book reading – it is a humbling, yet exhilarating experience.

After self-publishing three books, I realize that I still love to write.  But now, I also enjoy creating books that both entertain and educate children.  I especially enjoy producing books that Caribbean children, particularly children from Trinidad and Tobago, can comfortably relate to.  I have a great appreciation for the process and art of creating literature.  There is no real way to measure the passion and amount of time that an author spends writing as well as self-publishing a book.  The satisfaction truly comes from the joy on the readers’ faces.

The decision to self-publish can be a difficult one for an author to make, but it’s one I would certainly recommend trying.  My advice to any new author considering the self-publishing option is to 1) be realistic about how much work is required, while being aware of your talents and your limitations, 2) find a support network, as each self-publishing process can offer different experiences and 3) just keep writing!

About the Author

Stacey Alfonso-Mills is the self-published author of The Boys of Sinclair Hill-Fun in the Backyard (2009), The Boys of Sinclair Hill-The Princess, The Treasure and The Blue Dragon (2011), Manatee has a Question (2014) as well as a children’s colouring book.

Stacey’s books are written in Standard English format.   Her books feature Caribbean elements through its stories and illustrations and also include subtle learning tips. Young readers enjoy the Caribbean diversity of Stacey’s books.  Stacey writes for the early Primary or Elementary school age group and her books are perfect for reading aloud.

As an author Stacey collaborates with Bridge Foundation, an organization that supports the development of young children through the promotion of literacy programmes that encourage early reading.  Stacey’s books are included in the BGTT sponsored Bridge Foundation’s ‘Read to Rise’ programme, which uses a book rotation strategy to inspire and encourage student reading while innovatively building classroom libraries.  This programme was launched in March 2013 at Mayaro Government Primary School and Guayaguayare R.C. School, both located on the east coast of Trinidad.  Stacey also participated in the launch of the 2013 Bridge Foundation’s Read for the Record Day, which is a global celebration of reading created to bring attention to the importance of early literacy among children.

When Stacey is not writing books or reading her books to students at primary schools across Trinidad, she is a Communications Consultant and the Managing Director of MAALAN Resources Limited, which is a service company in the Trinidad and Tobago energy sector.

Stacey is keen to expand her literary contributions and is currently working on making her books available in electronic format.  Her goal is to find that comfortable balance, for her young audience, where her books can exist for the modern young reader in a variety of electronic formats while preserving the traditional printed format.

Stacey is Trinidad and Tobago born.  She is married with three sons and currently resides with her family in Trinidad and Tobago.

Author’s Contact:

Email: staceyalfonsomillsbooks@gmail.com

Website: www.staceyalfonsomillsbooks.com 

Stacey’s Books are available in Trinidad  & Tobago at:

  • Paper Based, The Normandie Hotel, St. Anns
  • Rainy Days, Ellerslie Plaza, Maraval
  • Horizon’s Framing & Décor Ltd., Mucurapo Road, St. James