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Monday, 19 May 2014

The Calabash International Literary Festival 2014

Jamaican Beach

I'm unable to participate in the upcoming Calabash International Literary Festival, which is held at Jakes, Calabash Bay, Treasure Beach. Jakes is located in the parish of St. Elizabeth, on the south coast of Jamaica. It is situated on a spectacular beachfront property with white sand. The property is owned by the Henzell family, who are actively involved in producing Jamaican films and literary productions.

The property also includes the popular Jakes Hotel and Jakes Restaurant located further on the compound. Earlier this year, friends and I spent a day at Jakes Restaurant, eating seafood and swimming. It's not always easy to swim at this location, due to the rougher currents, sea weeds and rocks that are sometimes embedded in parts of the sand.

The south coast is not as developed as the north coast, where tourists tend to gravitate, and the sea is much calmer. That's what makes the south coast more appealing to me. I get to swim in more natural surroundings, where turtle nests and other wildlife can be found among the rocks and bushes.

The 3 day festival is open to anyone who wishes to participate and share their writing, and simply have a good time, enjoying the variety of talent that this festival is known to produce. Salman Rusdie will be one of the authors who will be coming to Jamaica to perform in this cultural show.

I would have posted this sooner, but the festival dates were published late April, and just got the time to write about it, as the AtoZ April Challenge was in full swing. That's why I'm not prepared to enter this festival either, but may attend as a spectator. Next year I will certainly be on schedule and make the announcement much earlier.

I have seen a lot of talent on various blogs, and on Google Plus. The link below will share more information on this popular Jamaican festival. It would be terrific to have you join me on stage in this exciting event next year, or in one of the workshops that they host.

Stephen Marley

Link: http://www.calabashfestival.org

Images of the Jamaican photos courtesy of www.wikimediacommons.org


Please feel free to comment.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Book Review: Contrails




Sam Claymore is an airline pilot who loves his job, despite his hectic flight schedule and irritating passengers he sometimes get. When the airline downsizes leaving Sam unemployed, his childhood friend Nate offers him a job. Nate is a drug dealer in need of a pilot to transport his merchandise. Sam reluctantly accepts the job, but the money is good, so is the cocaine after he samples it.

Sam quickly gains the trust of Javier, the Mexican drug boss he and Nate works for. One information Sam omits from Javier is that his father is a retired Drug Enforcement Agent. Who would believe him if he said he only took this job for the money?

The more Sam earns for taking flight risks, the more he realises how dangerously cutthroat his boss and the drug underworld really is. He decides to quit and makes his final major drug run with Javier to Columbia to meet one of the world's most feared kingpin. But things have a way of backfiring in Sam's life, and this trip happens to be one of them. He is surrounded by cold hearted killers who adorns trees with bodies as casually as a person decorating a Christmas tree.

One of the things I noticed when reading Contrails was how fast paced the story was from the beginning. The early chapters were mainly based on Sam, his family background, and typical airline characters and activities. The plot changed after Sam was furloughed and that's when things become more interesting.

Sam's character was somewhat dull in the beginning. He had lead a normal lifestyle, and flying had taken up most of his time. I thought he was easy to succumb to peer pressure, but there were times he showed strength when faced with challenges. It's hard not to like Sam, who is really soft hearted by nature. He only wanted to lead an honest life, without having the law on his back.

The authors, Robert Anderson and Steve Clark gave an excellent detailed account of what transpires in the cockpit, the airline crews busy schedule and how it can affect their personal lives. I was also introduced to another side of the drug underworld, making me more aware of the important role aviation plays in drug trafficking. The book is injected with humour and is not the hard core violent story I was expecting to read. It should be interesting to see what transpires in Contrails Book 2.


Link:  http://www.amazon.com/CONTRAILS-Contrails-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00FP5BAOK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399929487&sr=1-1&keywords=contrails

Please feel free to comment

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Quintet of Radiance Award

Capture

Unbelievable!! There I was, responding to comments on my blog and re-read Vishal Bheeroo's comment stating that he nominated me for an award on May 9th, 2014. Convinced I had misinterpreted his reply, I hopped over to Vishal Bheeroo's blog @ http://vishalbheeroo.wordpress.com to scan his post again.

My muse reminded me that I had left a congratulatory comment on his post. I read the post again and was surprised to see that he had in fact, nominated me for the Quintet of Radiance Award! It appears I had overlooked my name ( #2) on the list of nominees in my happiness to congratulate Bheeroo. Who can blame me as I wasn't expecting it to be on the list either. This is my second award since May 1st 2014, so I'm feeling overwhelmed right now, but humbled with gratitude. What have I done to deserve them?That is the question that puzzles me.

Vishal Bheeroo is a blogger whom I admire very much with his bright upbeat personality, and interesting blog posts. I believe that the AtoZ April Challenge made me more aware of how talented bloggers like Vishal really are. I saw more of their work on a daily basis, thus making me appreciate what they wrote, as their personalities shone even more from the words.

The award was given to Vishal Bheeroo by Ananya Kiran @ http://www.ananyatales.com. Thank you too Anya for making this happen.

The Rules for the Quintet of Radiance Award:

1.   Display the badge in a post.

2.   Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back - Vishal.

3.   Using the alphabet, describe yourself in a word or phase.

4.   Nominate a few bloggers.


The AtoZ About Me:

Adventurous
Baker
Creative
Doting Mom
Enjoys solitude
Fun loving
Gardener
Hates uninvited visitors
Impulsive
Jovial
Kind
Like coffee and sweets
Make a mean rum cake
Not a quitter, but a twitter
Optimist
Patient
Quiet
Reserved 
Stubborn
Tale teller, not tattle teller
Unyielding to peer pressure
Voracious reader
Willing to try new things
Xmas lover
You want a romance story, don't check me! I get writers block with this genre.
Zippy person

This part is difficult with so many wonderful bloggers. I've been poking my brain deciding which bloggers to select. The decision is even harder than the first nomination I received.

My Nominees are as follows: 

Teagan Tearney              
http://www.writingmynovelnoworkingtitleyet.blogspot.com/

Morgen Bailey                
http:/www./morgenbailey.wordpress.com/

Debi Oneille
http:/www./debioneille.blogspot.com/

Chris Graham  
http://www.thestoryreadingapeblog.com/            

Christine Campbell  
http://www.cicampbellblog.wordpress.com/

These bloggers that I have chosen have been significant influences in my life. Their writing advice have helped me to improve my writing skills, and other areas pertaining to writing. Thank you!

Please feel free to comment.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Book Review: The Devil's Dream

The Devil's Dream

Matthew Brand had it all...a wife and son he loved, a successful career as a Genetic Engineer, and fame for being known as the most brilliant man on Earth. When his son, Hilman, is killed by cops, Matthew's world is shattered and he grieves the only way he knows will heal his sorrow. He takes revenge on everyone who played a vital role in the case. Matthew wants his son back, and the way to get his wish is by taking the lives of his son's killers, using their bodies to bring Hilman back to life. 

After being caught and cryogenically imprisoned at "The Wall," a place where scientists can study his remarkable brain, Matthew escapes, hellbent on finishing The Devil's Dream he started. He is hunted by F.B.I. Agent Allison Moore, a woman who is willing to sacrifice everyone she loves to catch this mad genius.

This feat proves rather difficult as Matthew Brand is no ordinary fugitive, but a complex one with the highest level of intelligence mankind has ever known. How do you capture a man who is not one, but two steps ahead of you? 

Reading this book reminded me of Frankenstein with a strong presence of Stephen King. The Devil's Dream is a wonderful blend of science fiction and horror, and it takes talent to combine them in a plot that will capture the interest of a reader. How many writers are capable of doing that? David Beers pulled it off magnificently. 

One of the things I liked was the way this author drew out each character's personality and emotions as they took centre stage. I was able to understand the "hows and whys" of their actions and opinions, and even sympathised with them occasionally. The ending took a surprising turn and sealed my admiration for David Beers.

Link: http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Dream-Book-One-ebook/dp/B00IAN7AV6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399759828&sr=1-1&keywords=the+devils+dream

Please feel free to comment

Monday, 12 May 2014

A Pesty Problem

Smelly Sock

"Were you a fly on the wall? What did you overhear?" asked Crawlos Cockroach, as he made himself comfortable on an old smelly sock that was tossed in the dumpster.

Fanny Fly

"It's just awful," Fanny Fly replied. "I was flying around looking for a delectable place to land, when I noticed the back door to Chick "N" Chips was opened, so I flew in and saw the cooks frying some mouthwatering food. You know they make the best potato wedges in the neighbourhood, don't you?"

"Yep, I like the seasoned ones best," Robbie Rat said, while nibbling on a half eaten pizza he found in the garbage." Anyway, what's all the buzzing you were making about?"

"Well, there I was, a fly on the wall, (literally) when two men walked through the door, and I recognised one of them. He's Pete, the exterminator."

"I know Pete, and he's an annoying character," Crawlos Cockroach commented, shaking his head.

"He sure is. I heard him tell the other man that the neighbourhood is overrun with pests, and he and his colleagues are going to swat us out tomorrow by doing more in depth spray jobs and setting extra traps and baits."

"What!" exclaimed Crawlos Cockroach. "Why can't these humans let us live in peace? We're not troubling anyone. All we want is food to eat and shelter, just like them?"

"That's right, and some of the food they cook doesn't even taste great. We're doing them a favour by eating that crap they toss in the garbage," Robbie Rat complained, licking his greasy paws.

"What are we going to do?" Fanny Fly asked. "The last time they sprayed the area where the Fish Bowl Restaurant is, I lost my aunt Mildred and a couple dozen cousins when they dined there."

"I lost one of my brothers when he was caught in a trap at someone's home," lamented Robbie Rat. "It's becoming more difficult to survive around here, with critters like Pete putting us down every chance they get."

The Solution



"We really have a serious problem, but I think I have a solution."

"Let's hear it, Cockroach," said Robbie Rat.

"We have to spread this terrible news via the grapevine as soon as possible to the other rodents and insects. Tell them to stay off the streets tomorrow and hang out in another location for a few days. We don't know how long Pete will take, or how effective his stuff will be this time. Sometimes it works, other times it's harmless as a baby."

"Good idea. I know a few probably won't listen to the warning, and will most likely die. However, there is safety in numbers, so let's make sure everyone sticks together as much as possible," suggested Robbie Rat. "I think I'll take my family to spend a few days in the country with my cousin, Mickey, on his farm. The fresh air will be a welcome change."


Robbie Rat

"Don't these humans know they can't kill us off with their pesticides and traps? We will always be here, long after they're gone. Every time they crush one of us, another rodent or insect will be there to take its place," Crawlos Cockroach commented, jumping off the sock.

"Now that's the truth," Fanny Fly agreed. "I love fly fishing so I'll  buzz all my family and friends, and we'll head on down to Fishermen Wharf for a few days too. The catch is always great, especially when it comes fresh from off the boats."

The Revenge


The Gathering

"I was thinking that when things return to normal around here, we should get our revenge for what Pete and his friends put us through," suggested Crawlos Cockroach, rubbing his antennas together.

"Got a plan?" asked Robbie Rat, excited at the thought of revenge.

"You bet I do! As soon as we inspect the place when we return, why not invite everyone we know to spend a few days with us. That will surely drive them crazy, wondering what to do about the sudden invasion of rodents and insects."

"It certainly will, especially after their recent attack on us. I love the plan!" Fanny Fly exclaimed, laughing.

"Good, now I'm going to gather my brood and do a bit of rock climbing. There are some nice ones with plenty of space to crawl under. It's a lot of fun and the perfect place to hang out for awhile," Crawlos Cockroach said, as he crawled out of the dumpster.

"I passed a picnic in the park on the way here, so maybe I'll stop there on the way to Fishermen Wharf and grab a bite of those delicious looking cupcakes they have. Who knows, it could be the last thing we'll eat, if we don't survive," Fannie Fly commented with a buzz, as she flew away.

Delicious Cupcakes

Images courtesy of www.wikimediacommons.org
Please feel free to comment

Thursday, 8 May 2014

communication (haiku)

Wolf

the sounds of the wild
nature's way to keep in touch
a howl call away

Image courtesy of www.wikimediacommons.org
Please feel free to comment

Monday, 5 May 2014

Reflection Post: AtoZ April Challenge 2014




April 30, 2014

I'm sitting with my feet up writing this. It's been an awesome but tiring day. I wrote and posted my final story for letter Z this morning. Did I really survive the AtoZ April Challenge 2014? You bet I did!

AtoZ Survivors Cocktail

When I entered the challenge, it was done with a bad habit of mine - on a whim.  Being a newbie, I was clueless not knowing what to expect, or the quality content to write that would interest readers. I just signed up and decided to go with the flow. Glad I did with no regrets!

As April drew nearer, I still found myself wondering what to write, and thought of two ideas that could work, then changed my mind 2-3 days before the challenge commenced. I hadn't written my theme reveal either.

Inspiration hit one morning. I had already written a story which was to be posted on another site, but decided to use it for the B post in the challenge, with minor changes. I became excited and immediately wrote my A post, followed by my theme reveal which was published shortly after.

I'm now relieved that I had a theme to work with, instead of writing random articles as was originally planned. It worked to my benefit, and intend to work with themes for this challenge in the future. April 1st quickly came and I posted my A story, and wrote the C story the next day. The Principal asked me to catalogue books in the new school library. I couldn't refuse as the kids needed the books, and a crazy, exhausting pattern developed.

I wrote most of the stories on the day each letter was due. Although I can work well under pressure, I strained my brain to create and post the stories, as they were mostly done at school. How did I manage to type them on my laptop, while simultaneously entering book data into their computer without screaming? I'm not going to pressure myself next year repeating this method or ordeal.

All my stories will be pre-written in a more relaxed manner. I've learnt from my mistakes. It's not easy writing 26 stories consecutively - on the due day, support other bloggers, look after my son who was sick a few days, as well as other daily duties that have to be performed. Even if I slip and write a couple on the said day, it will be different to this hassle. I'm sure other bloggers can share similar experiences they went through to keep abreast of their writing schedule.

It was indeed a challenge, but I survived to tell my tale. Although this awesome event is over, I am slowly, but surely going through the blog list on the #AtoZ site. Time did not permit me to support many more bloggers. There are so many fascinating blogs, and their content is entertaining as well as helpful.

There were also blogs that I wanted to comment on, but felt forced to register to do so, or they had no comment boxes, so I left. A few hadn't posted anything in months, and some posts were too behind for me to make comments. Others were inaccessible due to poor links. I wanted to follow a couple, but they didn't even have the Google, Facebook apps.

Being a participant had its advantages:

I have gained more followers on Google and made wonderful friends with many of them.

It gave me the opportunity to promote my blog.

I learnt techniques to improve my writing from some sites visited, and from my own challenge experience.

 Social media has its advantages, as I also gained a couple followers on Twitter.

I now take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported me by commenting and sharing my posts. It means a lot to me. I also want to give a round of applause to the dedicated group of team leaders and their assistants for working so hard to make AtoZ April Challenge the success it was.

It couldn't have been easy doing this, while writing for your own blogs. Your daily AtoZ community posts offered vital information and encouragement for the participants to trek on and complete the awesome adventure we signed up for. Reading these posts gave me the boost that was needed to continue to the end. Thank you!

Fireworks of Thanks!!!


Images courtesy of www.wikimediacommons.org
Please feel free to comment

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Liebster Nominations

LIebster Award


I was pleasantly surprised when I woke this morning and discovered that Gwynn Rogers @  http://www.gwynnsgritandgrin.com nominated me for the Liebster Award. May sure started off with a bang for me, as the buzz of the AtoZ April Challenge hasn't worn off.

The award was given to Gwynn Rogers, and she in turn selected me. The Liebster Award is given to bloggers by other bloggers, and I am thrilled to be a part of this tradition. Thank you Gwynn Rogers!

The Rules

1.   Link back and thank the blogger who nominated you in your post.
2.   List 11 facts about yourself.
3.   Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
4.   Pick 5 - 10 new bloggers (must have less than 300 followers) to nominate.
5.   Ask them 11 new questions. Do not re-nominate the blogger who nominated you.      
6.   Go to each blogger's site and inform them of their nomination.

11 Random Things about Myself

1.    I am a shy person.

2.   Don't talk to me unless I've had my morning coffee.

3.   Cooking and baking are 2 of my favourite things to do.

4.   I placed 2nd in the parish finals of the Jamaica National Reading Competition.

5.   A Taurean with a very stubborn streak.

6.   I love to write stories, mainly mysteries. Romance is difficult to write, but will happily
      kill a character.

7.   Listening to music relaxes me - reggae, calypso, soca, hip hop. Most music genres.

8.   I started writing when I was about 6 or 7 years old.

9.   Actively involved at my son's school as a class parent.

10.  I am a Die Hard, James Bond, Indiana Jones fan. Big Time!

11. I am a HOGAHOLIC! Ham. bacon, chops...as long as it's pork. Is there a Hogaholic
      Support Group?

Questions Asked:

1.   Name three secrets you never told anyone.

      If it's a secret, why should I tell it? I can't think of anything secretive anyway :)

2.   If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would do?

      Have a drink, give my father and siblings money, and travel.

3.   Looking over the last ten years, what is one goal you have achieved, and goal
      you have not achieved?      
      
     Writing full time and having my own blog are goals I achieved. I wanted to be a writer
     years ago, but illness prevented that. Better late than never.

4.   What are your plans for retirement? And will you travel? If so, where and why.

       I intend to blog away when I'm too old to write :). I want to tour the U.K.
     
5.   Favourite drink on a Friday night.

      An iced cold bottle of Smirnoff Ice (red cap). I also like a glass of red wine.

6.   What do you think the secret is to a good marriage or relationship with
       a significant other is?

      There has to be strong communication between couples. Spending quality time
      together is vital, even a lunch or dinner date without the kids (if any) helps.

 7.   Name three words that describe your personality.

       Caring, humorous, stubborn.

8.    Home cooked meal or take-out?

       I love to eat and try new foods at restaurants, usually on weekends.
     
9.    When was the last time you blogged and what was it about?

       Ha! My last blog post was yesterday, when I posted my Z story for the AtoZ April
       Challenge. I am proud to say I survived it. Love this question.

10.  What do you think is the key to happiness?

        Loving family, good friends and a positive attitude. Negativity kills happiness.

11.   Who is your favourite poet and why?

         Difficult question. I like Helen Steiner Rice, but there are too many to choose from.

 My Liebster Nominations:

I have decided to nominate the following blogs:

1.      Sara C. Snider                    http://www.saracsnider.com

2.      Tony Payson                       http://welcome2thewritersbloc.blogspot.com        

3.      Tanya Miranda                    http://www.tanyamiranda.com

4.      Tom MacInnes                   http://www.cobourgcobbie.com

5.      Marci Koski                       http://www.fuzzyundertones.com

6.      Cybele Moon                     http://www.cybeleshineblog.wordpress.com

7.      Beloo Mehra                      http://www.letbeautybeyourconstantideal.blogspot.com

8.      Pheno Menon                     http://www.throodalookingglass.com

9.      Preethi Venugopal              http://www.tulipsandme.blogspot.com

10.    Eli Z                                    http://www.expatliv.blogspot.com