Earlier this week, I had spent a few hours working on this newsletter only to have it disappear as I tried to upload and edit this photo of me with Janelle Monae at this year's Essence Festival. (Yep, gone! And yes, that is really her just two days before she performed at the White House. I hope she enjoyed reading Malaika's Costume on her private jet.) NOTE TO SELF: When experimenting on ways to do your newsletter (like trying to do it directly on your blog, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS back it up). I am a huge fan of her work (seen her perform 3 times) so I could probably leave my newsletter with you just leave you hanging with this photo, the slideshow below, and its enclosed captions. However, Imma' not do that. Imma' take a few moments to update you on my very busy last few months. I also realize that some things can't wait like the fact that I have a big announcement. Yes, it's true. Also, I have decide to do these newsletter updates each season so this is the summer edition. I will try to do more regular updates in between. Here is a brief recap of what has been going on in my world for the last few months. I hope you enjoy the slideshow
-- Nadia L. Hohn
- Big Announcement
- Malaika's Costume Carnival Book Bash Tour
- Malaika's Costume in the News
- The Writers' Summit
- VONA Voices of Our Nation
- Toronto Caribbean Carnival
- Much More Malaika
- Sankofa's Pen
- Writing Tips
- Big Announcement This year, I will be fulfilling two lifelong dreams-- to live and teach overseas and travel internationally (beyond Canada, the Caribbean, US, and Ghana). Months ago, I accepted a two-year contract to teach early years music (with some art) at an international school in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). I am looking forward to sharing my songs, stories, and art with my new students and learning new ones and cultures. This is my dream job (teaching-wise) and the location is a great one for overseas travel. (I've got to put these 5 languages to use.) While in UAE, I will continue to maintain my online presence through social media and involvement with kidlit. I also hope to develop more youtube videos, do travel writing (and writing in general, I've got other books in the works), and blog on my website about my work-abroad and travel experiences. I hope to do my author visits through Skype as well as in person. I leave in August this year so there is A LOT of preparations that I need to do before I depart. (Not an exaggeration.)
- Festivals I will be back in Canada in September 2016 briefly to participate in festivals. One of these events is the Kingston Writers Festival. The other one, I can't announce yet. Stay posted.
- Malaika's Costume Carnival Book Bash Tour I have been touring with Malaika's Costume since it's publication on March 1, 2016 in what I call the COUCH-HOPPING/FAMILY REUNION/PEACOCK/CARNIVAL Book Tour. Over the course of five months, I have presented at bookstores, libraries, and schools and participated in meet and greets (including a conference) in Toronto, Burlington, Brampton, Ottawa, Montreal, Detroit, New York City, and oustside of Boston and Atlanta. Although there was no event, I have gone to stores to sign books in New Orleans and Miami. What fun! You can get a taste of my travels in the slideshow below. Stay tuned for my upcoming tour video.
- Malaika's Costume in the News Malaika's Costume has been in the news ALOT. Just check out my press link here. Recently, Malaika's Costume made 15 Must-read Books for Kids this Summer, CBC / The Next Chapter with Sheila Rogers, CBC Radio. I was so excited to hear that theya're talking about my book on national radio.
- Carnival contest It's contest time. So on my travels, I made a friend-- a peacock friend. I need your help. He needs a name. Please send your name submission and include your name, city, mailing address, phone number, and a photo of yourself to: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can submit as many times as you wish. PRIZE: You can win a copy of Malaika's Costume and a Carnival Peacock prize pack. All entries must be in by Sunday, July 31 12 AM. I will announce and publish the name of the winner by Friday, August 5, 2016.
In June 2016, Toronto hosted the first ever Canadian Writers' Summit-- a megaconference sponsored by 14 writing organizations across Canada. Being a proud member of three of these organizations The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC), Canadian Society for Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP), and Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) (Canada East region), I was looking forward to this combined effort for months, what I had been referring to as “that big mega conference”. I had already planned to go when I was also asked to cover this festival from the perspective of a children/young adult author for the next issue of TWUC Magazine (which I did). Stay tuned for my upcoming article.
7. VONA Voices of Our Nation
Voices of Our Nation or VONA is a multi-genre annual writing workshop for writers of colo(u)r started in 1999. Now hosted at the University of Miami, VONA consists of two one-week writing workshops. In 2014, I had applied and was called off the waitlist but I had to decline because I had already planned to take the Orff Afrique Masterclass in Ghana which took place at the same time. I definitely did not wish to miss the opportunity again so this year, I applied again and completed my week in travel writing with Faith Adiele and Bani Amor. It was a great learning experience despite its challenges and I met wonderful writers from all across the United States and a few other places, too. This was an intensive experience and my only wish was that I had more time to devote to every aspect, especially critiquing and socializing. I hope to return and hopefully study in the young adult workshop next year. (Oh yes, there will be a next year.)
8. Award Malaika's Costume has won the 2015-2016 The The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario Children's Literature (ETFO) Award-- its first award as a completed picture book. ETFO represents 76, 000 teachers across Ontario which recognizes quality children’s literature in keeping with ideals of social justice and equity. This is the first award for the finished picture book. The manuscript for Malaika's Costume won the Helen Isobel Sissons Canadian Children's Story Award in 2014.
9. Toronto Caribbean Carnival Malaika's Costume is a celebration of Carnival. This is a large event that takes place each year in Toronto during Emancipation Day long weekend. (Emancipation Day is a celebration which acknowledges the abolishment of slavery in the British Empire, which includes Canada and most of the Caribbean.) The event kicks off in early July 2016 and ends with a parade on Lakeshore Boulevard, this year, on July 30. I am participating this year with two events Malaika's Carnival Book Bash at Parkdale Library on July 7 and Malvern Library on July 13, in conjunction with Another Story Bookshop and Toronto Public Libraries. On Saturday, July 16 at the Junior Carnival/Kiddie Parade, I will be at the Toronto Public Library tent in Neilson Park selling copies of Malaika's Costume, signing books, and doing crafts.
10. Many More Books
I worked on draft edits for the sequel of Malaika's Costume (working title: Malaika's Smile). The sequel is scheduled for publication by Groundwood Books in Fall 2017. I am also happy to announce that there will be a new edition of Malaika's Costume (a French translation, y'all) scheduled for publication in Spring 2017. C'est un grand plaisir. En fin, j'aurai un livre de la culture antillaise et du carnaval que je peux utiliser quand j'enseigne le français.
11. Sankofa's Pen
On July 6, I had the final Sankofa's Pen (African Canadian Writers for Children and Young Adults) meeting. I thank Michelle Thompson and Angelot Ndongmo for coming to the summer meeting of Sankofa's Pen (African Canadian Writers for Children and Young Adults). It was an intimate discussion with publishing professional Léonicka Valcius. What a gift it was to have real honest feedback about our works-in-progress from someone who truly knows (and is passionate) about the book industry AND looks like us (one of the few who do). Also, thank you to sister Itah Sadu who hosted us at A Different Booklist bookstore and providing valuable insight and feedback. We each represent different parts of the publishing spectrum-- longtime self-published (Angelot), recently traditionally published and teacher/school (me), soon-to-be traditionally published (Michelle), longtime traditionally published and bookselling (Itah), and acquisition/sales in traditional publishing and digital (Leonicka). This conversation will need to continue further and the professional development of our writing craft essential. I founded and ran the Sankofa's Pen group 2 1/2 years to connect with Black children's book and young adult authors in Canada. Although this was the last Sankofa's Pen (African Canadian Writers for Children and Young Adults) face-to-face meeting, I will continue to operate the Facebook page which numbers 109 since my last count.
12. Writing Tips
Having writers' block? Feeling stuck? Switch it up. Try somethiing new and different like a creative activity such as playing an instrument, drawing a picture, or dancing. Or switch up your routine. If you are a daytime person, try writing at night. If you are a night owl, try writing in the early morning. Or change your location. Write in a coffee shop or in your bedroom. Sometimes what you need to shift your point of view, so you can come back to your work with "fresh eyes".