My Stuff

In which our intrepid writer presents her own work to the terrifed screams of the masses.

New Caribbean Beat Magazine Interview!

Hope you’ve all been behaving yourself while I’m away, putting the final scenes in my latest book.

Remember I mentioned some good things were coming up for me soon? Well, one of them just dropped.

Caribbean Beat magazine, the free in-flight magazine for Caribbean Airlines–one of the largest carriers in the Caribbean–interviewed me a while back. The interview is in the new March/April issue. This one is important to me because it’s a special article about the rise of speculative fiction in the Caribbean and several authors were interviewed. I got to keep company (again!) with Nalo Hopkinson, Tobias Buckell and Karen Lord.

How lucky does one girl get, right?

puma  happy smile excited laughing

You can read the interview here.

Hope you enjoy the article. Feel free to let me know what you think by leaving a comment, or contacting me via the ‘Say Hello’ form on this website.

Stay thirsty, my friends, and see you soon!

The Bookshine Bandit – New LEX TALIONIS Review

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Yes, I know I’m very late. But I’m only one week late in China!

I should have come by at least a couple of times last month, but in my defense, I was writing pretty steadily. I’m still at it and I’ve also been very busy at work, but I have some cool things happening on the writing front, so I thought I’d pop by, say hello and check in with everyone.

Hope you all are having a great year so far, and that only more good things are in your future.

While we’re here, you can check out my latest review for LEX TALIONIS. It’s later than the reviewer intended, but I’ll wait for a 5 star for a pretty long time lol.

You heard that, right? 5 STARS!

You can check it out at The Bookshine Bandit.

I have to say, I think the title of that review will end up being my elevator pitch lol.

See you again soon. Until then, stay thirsty, my friends!

A Wonderful New Review for LEX TALIONIS in Caribbean Beat Magazine

I’m really over the moon about this one!

Caribbean Beat magazine is produced by Caribbean Airlines and given away free on every flight they have, both in and out of the Caribbean, for two months. I’m extremely lucky and grateful to be included in their bookshelf. In the past, I’ve heard about great books like ‘A Brief History Of Seven Killings’–which won the Man Booker prize, among others–from reading the magazine while traveling around the islands on business.

You can read the review here, just scroll down a bit. 

My favourite part? The closing lines:

‘Lex Talionis sings a bloody song of both forgetting and redemption, and of the price we pay for a little tenderness, when least we expect to be taxed for our freedoms.’

Empire Cookie animated GIF

*Squees with joy*

*Dances around*

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programme!

3 Day Quote Challenge…And There They Go, Over The Finish Line!

Today’s day three of the 3 Day Quote Challenge. We made it all the way to the last day, guys! Thanks again to Erin Burns for nominating me. Go read her blog. You won’t regret it.

You can find out about the rules in my first post here.

And are today’s quotes. That’s right…in honour of this being the third and last day of the challenge, I’ve decided to post three quotes about one of my very favourite things. Books and reading. None of them, I trust, will need any explanation:

NEVER be ashamed..of your books :):

There’s only one of you, my friends. Only one unique, glorious, fascinating you. So don’t waste your time trying to be anyone else, or meeting anyone else’s idea of who or what you should be. Read what you love, watch what you love, be what you love.

Keep reading. It's one of the most marvelous adventures that anyone can have. -Lloyd Alexander:

Is there any place more fun, exciting and endlessly entertaining than the depths of our own minds?

So true.:

Reading is the gift that keeps on giving. Let’s make sure more kids know that joy.

And the final three blogs you might like to visit:

  • kelzbelzphotography blogs on photography, her hobbies and her life. If you like arts, craft and an honest, captivating voice, this is the blog for you.
  • My friend Alex West muses on writing, movies and whatever strikes her fancy on Compulsive Writer. She’s one hell of a fantasy writer, and you can learn some really great tips here.
  • Tonya Moore has excellent writing advice and insights on her blog, especially for beginners. A great place for guest posts and free stories.

Thanks for staying with me through this challenge, my friends. And if you like my quotes, you can take a look at my Pinterest page, where I got most of them from.

Have a great weekend, and stay thirsty, my friends!

3 Day Quote Challenge…Here They Come, Down the Stretch!

Today’s day two of the 3 Day Quote Challenge. Thanks again to Erin Burns for nominating me! Go read her blog, especially if you’re looking for recommendations for fun genre books.

You can find out about the rules in my first post here.

On to today’s quote!

This quote is in my debut novel, LEX TALIONIS. In it, my young heroine Lex has lost her memory after a brutal attack that ended her life. Brought back on a hospital table by a mute alien, she embarks on a mission to find out who she was and who killed her. Revenge is her goal, but what she doesn’t know is that someone has learned that she survived the attack. And they are intent on finishing the job.

Obviously, Lex’s past is the key to who she is and what happened to her. The quote comes halfway through the book, when she’s remembered who she is and we step backward in time to see how she came to be dead in a hospital. Once we see where Lex came from, however, we know immediately that her future has been irrevocably changed by what happened to her. Literally, as we study her past, we will know her future.

I love this quote because it speaks to history, one of my favorite hobbies. It’s a lot like: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ (George Santayana). In essence, society must do its best to learn from its past, in order to avoid a future filled with old mistakes. If you want to know where society is going, you have know where we’ve come from. You can’t chart a course with a blank map.

It’s personal too. If you want a better life and a better you, you must make a study of who, and where, you are in order to figure out who, and where, you want to be. A starting point can be anywhere, but you must know what got you to that point if you want to keep moving forward instead of going in circles.

And now I nominate:

  • Mike Douton, a great friend and a writer who muses on writing and life over at Stuff and/or Junk.
  • Marlene Dotterer, a writer of romantic fantasy and science fiction who happens to be a great friend and who blogs on writing, vacationing, gardening, food and even pregnancy issues over at her blog. You’ll won’t be bored if you stop by!
  • Darke Conteur, a writer (yes, I have a lot of writer friends, why do you ask?) who does interviews and lots of posts on the craft of writing, food, paranormal fiction and wiccan and pagan life. There’s a lot to learn and explore here, and book recommendations too.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, I’ll have a special Saturday post as I wrap up this fun quote week.

Stay thirsty, my friends, and see you then.

3 Day Quote Challenge! And They’re Off!!

I’ve been nominated for the Three Day Quote Challenge by Erin Burns! She has a wonderful blog in which she reviews books, among other things. She’s extra special to me because not only did she read and like my novel LEX TALIONIS, she left reviews for it all over the place. If she wasn’t already awesome, that would have finished the job. So if you’re looking for something to read, particularly genre fiction like scifi and romance, you might want to hit up her blog for recommendations.

So here are the rules for this torture exercise:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Publish a quotes on 3 consecutive days on your blog.  The quote can be one of your own, from a book, movie, or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers each day to carry on this endeavor.

My quote for today is:

There Wouldn't Be A Sky Full Of Stars If We Were All Meant To Wish On The Same One by NamedByArt on Etsy:

I love this because it reminds me of a local saying in my country. ‘What is for you, is for you.’ Both quotes address the fact that everyone is different and everyone has different destinies. Clark’s quote reminds us that we aren’t all after the same thing in life, so don’t be afraid to choose your own path and follow it.

The Trini saying means it’s okay to go after what you want, even if you fail. Because if you’re meant to have it, no one else will get it. What’s not said–but is just as important–is the idea that anything you don’t have, wasn’t meant for you in the first place. So celebrate the achievements of others. Dare to be different. Don’t be afraid to take your own path. Your destiny is your own and failure doesn’t mean you missed out on anything, or that anyone robbed you of success. It just means there’s something else wonderful in front of you that you haven’t got to yet.

My nominees of excellent blogs for your attention:

  • M.A. is a new friend over at Romance Language where he posts infrequently, but speaks eloquently, movingly and thoughtfully about writing, reading and life when he does. It’s worth passing by just to read his archives, which is small but powerful.
  • Anna Kashina is a successful writer I’m proud to call friend. Author of several beautifully written fantasy adventure series, her latest works have won her two Prism awards from the Romance Writers of America. She doesn’t blog often, but has good insights into writing and publishing.
  • Kelpiemoon blogs on a million different topics over at Scribbles at Midnight. Writing, book reviews, society, music, you name it, it’s there. But they’re all addressed with great depth, good humour and openness. Check out the archives for funny observations and laments.

Looking forward to everyone jumping in and having a good time.

Have fun, and stay thirsty, my friends!

A Talk And An Award

* Edit:  It appears I got my history a bit wrong. Marlon James is the first Jamaican to win the Man Booker. However, the first Caribbean national to win it appears to have been V.S. Naipaul. It just so happens he was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago! 

Yesterday I had a great time giving an informal talk about speculative fiction and what it takes to be a writer to the 6th Form students at St. Augustine Secondary School. I also read a bit from one of my current shorts, Wire and Blood.

The school was newly built, the library really nice–just like the librarians–and best of all, it was air-conditioned!

This was my first class of teenagers. I’ve given talks with teenagers present before, and even younger children, but not an entire class of them. I was delighted to meet a room full of intelligent, open, enthusiastic young men and women who needed no prompting to ask questions or react to what I was saying. In short, they were a great audience that gave me lots of energy, and I hope I was able to give them some insight and inspiration.

Here’s me accepting their wonderful tokens at the end of the talk. I made out like a bandit with stuff that included a new book and writing materials. I hope the librarian remembers to tell them how much I appreciated it!

St. Augustine Secondary Talk

On another note, I just read that the Man Booker Prize has been won today by a Caribbean national for the first time! Jamaican writer Marlon James bested the competition with A Brief History of Seven Killings. I’ve been hearing about how wonderful this book is since the Bocas Lit Festival put him on the short list for the OCM Bocas Lit Prize.

Scratch that–I heard about this book long before that, through an article in Caribbean Beat Magazine just before it debuted. It’s in my very large to be read pile, I’m sad to say, but I’m delighted that the Caribbean has another great author to celebrate, and a young one too. Jamaica to the World!

Congratulations, Marlon! Thanks for raising we nose!

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

Tantie, Papa And The Mango Tree On Diego Colony

A bit from a story I’m still working on. Funny thing is, I finished another story with the same character and it got an Honourable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest last year, but for some reason this story is just not cooperating. It won’t tell me how to get to the ending, just yet.

Guess I’ll just have to trunk it until it does…

The day I turn ten, my mother walk into the corrosive sea on the western edge of Diego colony.  She used to cut sheself during her depressions, so she wasn’t no stranger to pain.  She didn’t even whimper when the hissing lilac waves attack her legs and red stains start to drift ’round her in threads. 

I don’t know if I scream or say anything.  I remember her sinking into the waves, graceful, graceful, and I remember running toward her.  I was lucky–I trip and kilkitay on my face. I fling out my right arm, trying to save myself, just as a wave come toward me.  My hand started burning, as if a thousand flames was under it, and I could still see the lilac coming toward my face, hissing all the way.

That was a bad day.  The worst day.  I could deal with anything because of that day.

I keep telling myself that as I walk down to the pier, sand sucking and trapping my shoes all the way.  I have to prepare myself before I get to the crowd on the beach or crapaud smoke my pipe.

I have to forget the waves biting the shore in front me.

I almost reach them when they turn as one to look at me.  Resentment and anger shifting and molding so many faces.  It fascinating how them faces is every shade between white and brown.  You don’t notice them things when you pass people on main street, but here, together, I can’t see nothing else.

I blink and shake off the distraction.  The metal in me like patterns. Is just the wired side of me, fixating, as usual.

The crowd split as someone push they way toward me.  Manno.  He bare arms shiny with sweat in the midday sunlight.  He nutmeg brown face twisted with grief and rage.  Big man, Manno, but usually no trouble.  Today, with his son John John in a coma back at Diego’s only Clinic, he definitely my biggest problem.

Before the crowd shift and fall back in behind Manno, I see Boyie standing next to the pier. He scared, poor thing. Beyond him, at the end of the metal platform, he tiny ferry rising and falling on the lilac waves. 

“Now you reach?”  Manno’s voice almost cracks.  “Now?”

“Is Market Day.”  I reminded him.  “I come when I hear.”

“Well, we don’t need you.”  Esther, Manno’s wife, push through behind him and grab he arm.  She small and bald with big grey eyes in she cappuccino face.  Today, the look she give me make them less beautiful.

“Esther,” I nod my head at her.  “I very sorry for what happen, but don’t forget who you talking to.”

“You threatening us?”  Esther’s eyes narrow.  “Who food you does eat every day?”

“So you exempt?  You could do what you like because you run the hydroponics lab?”  I shake my head.  “Esther, I not Tantie for some–I Tantie for all.”

“You protect him long enough,” Manno says through tight lips.  “No more.  Not after John John.”

A murmur of agreement goes through the crowd.  I ignore it.  People will talk theyself into anything if you let them.  My job is not to let them.

Wondering if to even bother to finish it. Perhaps I should just move on to other stories instead of wasting my time?

Decisions, decisions…

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Excerpt: The Nightward – A Battle Approaches

I’m a bit busy today, so I thought I’d post a tiny excerpt from The Nightward wherein the Lady Gretchen and her Amazores prepare to do battle with an ancient weapon called the Dark.

The Amazores waited in the cold.  Even the walls above were empty of their presence.  Behind Lady Gretchen, the sounds of banging doors and dragging furniture drifted out from within the Court.  She didn’t look back.     

“Your swords.”     

Metal shrieked as over seventy swords, all engraved with the same script as the Lady’s, were drawn and piled neatly on the colorful tile.  Lady Gretchen added her sword last, then stepped back from the heap.  Palms forward, she chanted a short spell, the words taut as the expressions on the Amazores’ faces.     

The Lady’s sword began to burn a fierce yellow.  Then golden wraithlight with a heart of green slid along the edge of the blade, limning it with a cold, magical glow.  The wraithlight kept going, jumping from blade to blade, circling each one until the entire heap shone with its light.    

Lady Gretchen lowered her arms and gestured at the Amazores to take their swords.  They did so in silence, the wraithlight throwing multicolored shadows on the gold armor.  Around them, the wind howled and tiny veins of frost began to spread in the cracks in the tile beneath their feet.     

She motioned the archers forward, directing them to pile their quivers on the ground.  Another spell and yet another heap glowed with the unearthly light.  The archers collected their property, dropping the straps over their heads and settling the quivers against their backs.     

“Be warned,” the Lady shouted above the wind.  “Each time you plunge your sword into the Dark, it will take away some of your wraithlight.  The sword is useless without the magic.  If it fades, retreat.  Do not attempt to engage the Dark without it or you will die.  Now, to your positions.”      

See you later, alligators!

The Best Human Being I Have Ever Known

Eight years ago this month, my grandmother passed away. She was the backbone of my family and an amazing, unapologetic, loving, straight-forward, maddeningly sharp-tongued, soft-hearted, funny, perceptive, hard-working, smart, self-assured, no-nonsense, contradiction of a woman. She was the strongest person I’ve ever known.

Lots of people think their grandmother was the best, but mine really was. I never called Lyris Aban Baptiste granny because I considered that too disrespectful for her stature. To me, she was always grandmother.

I miss the way she used to sing and hum to every new baby born to the family. The way she would blow raspberries on their stomach until they laughed. I miss the way she would ask for a beer, drink it quickly, and then pretend it had leaked away and ask for another. I miss how she always had food ready when her family visited, and if not, she would get up and make some. The way she would entrap her grandchildren to do household chores and then pay us with cake batter or soft drinks.

I miss how she would mock threaten any kids who were being sly or sassy by waving her cane at them. How she would blink owlishly sometimes until you announced yourself because she didn’t see so well in her last years. The stories she told about growing up in Grenada, raising kids in Trinidad and working as a domestic for a rich Chinese lady who taught her how to cook Chinese food.

Barely out of her teens, she got on a boat all alone to go be with the man that would become her husband. She grew up poor in a one bedroom shack with 10 younger brothers and sisters she had to help care for, and she had to leave school before she learned to read and write to do it. She was told there was no point to educating a girl that would only get pregnant anyway, and her eldest brother took her place in school. But by the time she left this world, she had taught herself to read and write, was the secretary of the national chapter of the Mother’s Union of the Anglican Church, the secretary of her Village Council and had helped build her house with her own two hands while pregnant.

Her children and grandchildren included teachers, nurses, public servants, artists, lawyers, writers, musicians and two generations of port workers, male and female. She educated her children in a time when you paid for that education yourself and she never tired of preaching the importance of God and ‘studying your book’. She saved more people from the sad twists and turns of life by offering them shelter and a chance to get on their own two feet than any charitable organisation. She stood by her word, no matter what. And she loved, loved, loved, her family.

But my best memories are the times we spent together. The time she pretended her cane was stuck in ‘reverse’ while standing in front of the television and blocking her children and grandchildren from watching a movie. The squeals of ‘Granny! Move!’ while she shook her cane and muttered in pretend frustration, ‘But how this thing wouldn’t go into drive at all?’ The laughter when she got it into drive and backed up against the screen even more.

The time we were playing cricket in the yard, and she came outside and we talked her into batting and then regretted it because no matter who bowled to her, she hit it for six every time and nobody could get her out.

Or the time she came out while I was watching ‘The Matrix’ on television and sat down and watched the entire thing with me. This woman born before electricity came to the poor of Grenada. This woman who rationed throughout World War II and never forgot the lessons of keeping enough food in the house in case of political upheaval. This woman who lived through the arrival of telephones in Trinidad, all the way to the installing of a computer in her house that she frequently called a ‘small TV’. She watched Neo gain his powers in a strange world created by ‘camera tricks’ as she called it and asked very few questions, so engrossed was she.

At the end of The Matrix, she said, ‘I like that. That was good.’ And then we went to bed, she to hers and I to mine.

Sleep well, grandmother. It really was good.