Tag Archives: Lynn Joseph

Upcoming Book Review Series: Winners of Burt Award for Caribbean Literature

What can I say, I’ve been a bad writer. It’s been several months since I have posted anything to my blog and I’ve barely read any books this year. I can’t change the past, only learn from it. What I have learnt this past year (and maybe a little longer) is that I am not the woman I could be when I am not pursuing my passion. I love to read and to write, but I let life get in the way of my writing and it wasn’t fun. Nevertheless, it’s only so long that I can allow myself to cry about my shortcomings, so I’m back at my computer, and I have a book in my hand every chance I get. Oh! and I’m also pursuing my MFA Creative Writing :-).

Caribbean Books Foundation has gifted me with several young adult novels from past winners of the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. This contest is sponsored by CODE and is one of the major attractions at the NGC Bocas Lit Fes (Trinidad). Over the next few weeks, I will post one review every Wednesday. I must warn you, my reviews can be considered vague. Being a lover of novels, I know how infuriating it can be when someone spoils a plot or an ending for you. Seriously, it’s just as irksome as if someone ate a slice of cake that you strategically hid in the back of the refrigerator. Behind EVERYTHING! My reviews will be just enough to entice you.

A review has no particular format or rules, however, there is one rule that I have imposed on myself; I will only post reviews about books that I have enjoyed and therefore want to recommend. This rule also translates to – if I don’t have a positive review about someone’s book I will not post anything at all.  Of course I am entitled to my opinion, but it is no help or respect to a Writer to post something negative about their work. So, I’ll be adhering to a rule my father’s gave me as a child – In my father’s thunderous voice ‘If you have nothing good to say shut your mouth’. It should be noted that my father was flagrantly outspoken.

To be clear about this particular series, I have already read all the books that were gifted to me and they all kept me up at night. They were a great way to jump back into reading.

NB: I read and reviewed Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse in 2015 and loved it! I mean five stars. It is a must-read.

CODE’s Burt Award for Caribbean Literature is now open for submissions


Results – Trinidadian Authors

With the exception of Stephanie Meyer and George Orwell, all the people on this list are Trinidadians and have done significant things for our country. However, Michael Anthony, Lynn Joseph, Earl Lovelace and Merle Hodge are all Trinidadian authors.

Sharon Millar, Paul Keens-Douglas, V.S. Naipaul, Lawrence Scott and Derek Walcott are also Trinidadian Authors.

George Chambers was the second Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

Peter Minshall and Brian Mac Farlene are Carnival Artists.

Wendy Fitzwilliams is Miss Trinidad and Tobago Universe and Miss Universe 1998.

Results Trinidadian Authors

Book Review: The Color of My Words by Lynn Joseph

colorThe Color of My Words is a children’s novel based in the Dominican Republic. The protagonist is twelve year old Ana Rosa.

Ana Rosa uses a Gri Gri tree as her vantage point to look out at the world and use her imagination. She is determined to become a writer, enough so that she steals a notebook to write her stories when her parents are unable to buy her one.

Her relatively simple life takes a disastrous turn after her community learns that their government intends to sell their land. The shock of such news immediately shifts Ana Rosa’s attention from a recently exposed family secret. However, there is a silver lining behind her very dark cloud.

This novel was a great read. I especially loved that every chapter began with a short poem that I could understand. The unexpected twists kept me interested and I expect that it will hold the attention of a child in its age group as well.

Bocas Lit Fest 2015

Yesterday was the last day of the Bocas Lit Fest. I didn’t attend as many events as I wanted to, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ones that I did. Friends and family came out to support, and I even sold a few books, so all is well in Vanessa land.
Being that Selima and the Merfolk is my first novel, it was quite an honour to be featured on a panel (DIY Lit Panel). It was a great experience, and I am very encouraged to work on my second book.

These are a few photos from my Bocas experience.


Workshop With Author Keith Gray

20140426_131526[1]As I mentioned in my post Unexpected Invitation, the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature organization had invited me to a workshop. The workshop was free of charge and for writers of fiction and young adult books. It was originally supposed to be a personalized workshop, offering a chance to receive constructive feedback and one-on-one mentoring. Sadly, a few weeks before the scheduled day they changed it to a group workshop. Needless to say, I was very disappointed.

The workshop was led by British author, Mr. Keith Gray. I attended the afternoon session. Mr. Gray was very personable, and the participants seemed to like his approach. He distributed handouts and a list of recommended books. He conducted an exercise on re-drafting, and I believe he did another exercise in the morning session. His stories about his real-life experiences with controversy were very eye-opening; I think everyone felt enlightened.

The major notes I would keep in mind are:
– Most people do not speak proper English, so according to what you write it could sound unrealistic.
– Obscene language no longer holds the same ‘shock value’ as it once did.
– Slang does not only date your work, but in some cases it does not have the same meaning a few years later.

In Trinidad, we speak dialect, and we make up words all the time that only Trinidadians may understand. I have long decided that I would not use dialect in my books because no one outside of Trinidad would understand my writing. If they did, it may be too much of a distraction for them to figure it out.

Some Trinidad and Tobago Vernacular

A’A – An expression of surprise.
Ah Chuts – An expression of annoyance, vexation, disappointment or disgust.
Ah Eh Able – An expression of exasperation, literally, I am not able. Give me patience.
Bacchanal – Rowdy, scandalous behavior; Minding another person’s business and adding to, thereby causing confusion.
Back Chat – Insolent answer, especially from a child to an adult. Argumentative and cheeky response.
Bad Eye – A look of anger or reproach, especially when looking from the corner of the eye.
Badjohn – A bully, a dangerous man, a gangster.
Chupid – Stupid, foolish.
Jamette – A prostitute.
Jumbie – To harass, to annoy, to irritate.
Lime / Liming – Hanging out, having fun.
Maco –  Someone who minds other people’s business to gossip.

Meeting Author Lynn Joseph

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Lynn Joseph, a Trinidadian author of children’s and young adult novels. We connected a few weeks before Bocas, all because I woke up one morning, immediately rolled over, put on my laptop, and searched Amazon.com for books that had mermaid characters (I think I was dreaming about that). I found Ms. Joseph’s book The Mermaid Twin Sister and Other Stories from Trinidad, and learned that she was also a Trinidadian. I contacted her, and she was very willing to advise me on my soon to be published book. She does not live in Trinidad, but she intended to be at Bocas where she had a reading scheduled.Lynn Joseph at Bocas

Meeting Ms. Joseph was the highlight of the festival for me. I had never met an author who had been published by several top publishing houses, and better yet she was a Trini. We spoke for a while at the writer’s lounge. When I told her that I had not read for some time, she quickly reminded me of how important it is to read, especially from your genre. She reads ten books a month and suggested that I start with eight. I know that I won’t read eight books as yet, but I did borrow five from the library that I started reading on Sunday.

I will post the book that I am currently reading in my Goodreads widget, on the sidebar, for anyone who wants to comment or read along. Also, I will do a short review on the books I have read on goodreads.com where you can find all the books I have read, want to read, and currently reading.

After our chat, I accompanied her to her reading of The Color of My Words. It was a great experience; I saw firsthand that children are very outspoken, and their attention span is short, so you have to keep them engaged. Engaging is what Ms. Joseph was. She asked the children questions and allowed them to give suggestions. The children were very invested in the story.

Hopefully, I will be able to see her again, and continue to learn from her.

Writers Union of Trinidad and Tobago, Homegrown Talent

The Writers Union showcased some local talent, both poets, and short story writers. It was a very diverse group; the writers were of various age groups and social backgrounds. My favorite presenter was the gentleman who wrote a poem about Lupita Nyong’o. Unfortunately, I do not remember his name and cannot find my program.

This event is usually held each year at Bocas. It is an excellent opportunity for writers to have an audience, particularly new and unknown authors. Last year, I read my story One More Chance and was invited to read this year. Unfortunately, I was unable to prepare a piece in time.

It was a good event. They gave you funny, sad, inspirational and educational.

Once again, the  Bocas Lit Fest was a fruitful and rewarding experience.