Writing, grammar, and self-publishing

If you’re reading this, you know I’m a writer. Obviously.

What you might not know is that I’m an aspiring author. I’ve been writing stories of various forms for as long as I can remember, and have started using writing to make a bit of money on Fiverr.com.

Kenliano Fiverr 2018

I also love to read. Throughout my childhood, most (or all, I think) of the books I’ve read have been traditionally published books. That is, the authors went through the rigorous process of being picked up by publishing houses, often through agents, and these publisher would do much of the editing, promotional work, etc.

Things have changed , though. There are quite a few books that are self-published, and with the rise of eBooks, the number has increased manifold. A few of these have found their way into my hands.

And… honestly, some of them are… well… very bad.

I’ve read some traditionally published books that aren’t good, too, don’t get me wrong. The one that comes to mind is The Host by Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame.

But self-published books… wow.

I could talk about storytelling mechanics here, but I’ve decided to discuss grammar instead. Many of these writers seem not to have a good grasp of Standard English grammar. I’ve seen apostrophes misused as plural markers rather than possession markers, incorrect use of capital letters (as in “Stop it,” She said.) and even improper punctuation (for example, “Stop it.” she said.”).

What irks me even more is when these errors pop up in traditionally published works.

I do try not to be overly judgemental, though. Both writing and the grammar associated with it are artificial constructs that someone has to be taught, and not everyone mastered. But…  these types of errors really take away from the experience of reading for me.

My fellow writers, I implore you to pay as much attention as possible to grammar. It looks poorly on you if your work looks sloppy. If it’s a weakness you have, you may want to consider investing in an editor. A good editor.

I’m saying this to myself, too. I’ve been seriously considering self-publishing lately; and hope to introduce my first book to the world in the near future.

To all of my writer friends and colleagues, happy writing!


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What does your name say about you?

The University of the West Indies has a tradition of names.

There are quite a few monuments around campus with lists of names of people who came before us for posterity. Right near the main gate, there is one such dedication to the slaves that lived on a plantation all those years ago, which nowadays has become part of the campus:


Mona Village, which was located on Mona Estate was home to quite a few men and women. Last academic year, we I took a research course in which we were to take a look at these names, and see what we could find.

From the list of female names, one in particular interested me:

Mona Estate names

At the end of the first line is the name “Abba”. My exposure to Hebrew and Christianity led me to make an assumption as to the origins and meaning of this word. If you are familiar with the Christian Bible, you should know this word. Found in such verses as Mark 14:36, this Hebrew word means “father”:

אבא Mona

But… Even though it does mean “father” in Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic, and I told this to my classmates, I was wrong to assume that this was the reason this girl or woman was named Abba.

As it turns out, Abba is a female “day name”, a name given to a baby depending on the day she/he is born. This Ghanaian name is given to girls born on Tuesday:

Abba Tuesday

Many questions come to mind: Was she born in the Caribbean? If so, just how much of their culture were the people in these villages able to preserve? Was she born in West Africa? If so, how was she lucky enough to keep her name? How much was lost when they stole our ancestors and brought them here? How much have we retained?

I didn’t plan to post this during Black History Month (I had actually been planning to write about this since last summer…), but it’s relevant, don’t you think?

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Still here…

It’s 2018 now, and I’ve still got a whole lot of schoolwork to do before the second semester opens.

Well, better get to work!

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I won something!

On the 6th of October, someone posted something in a Facebook group I’m in:

FB post translation competition

I instantly realised that there was no mention of a prize, but I still felt a strong desire to try my hand at it. My Spanish and French aren’t good at all, so, my only choice was the English into Jamaican Creole language pair.

Well, I entered. The document the Translators and Interpreters Association (TIA) of Jamaica sent me was, of all things, an article about climate change and its impact on the Caribbean.

Let me tell you: that was a challenge.

I opened it up, read through it, and instantly knew it would be one of the most difficult things I’d done in a while. I put it down for a few days and then started working on it. And finally submitted it to TIA.

Then… one morning…

E-mail from TIA

TIA e-mailed me on Tuesday, 5th of December

I couldn’t believe it! I actually won! I don’t know why, but I really wanted to win. As someone who graduated from university a few years ago, I entered in the “other” category.

Anyway, the award ceremony was yesterday. It was a nice little event, and a good way to close this chapter of my life. Who knows? Maybe it’s a sign of things to come?

We’ll see!

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How to show your love

The five love languages.

They’re not real languages in the sense of syntax, morphology, phonology, etc, but they are important in communication. I remember when I first discovered the concept, and it really helped me understand myself, and it has impacted how I interact with others.

It was first outlined by Dr Gary Chapman in his 1995 book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. It’s not just about romantic love, though; it has applications to many various interpersonal relationships.

According to this theory, one’s love languages are, essentially, the ways in which each person naturally expresses love, and the things that make them feel loved. The idea is that people have specific love languages, some of which are more important than others.

Words of Affirmation: Encouragement, compliments, acknowledgment of a job well done… People with this love language require you to tell them, not just show them.

Acts of Service: Doing the dishes, attending your basketball game or ballet recital, giving a massage… If this is your love language, what someone does for you is important to you, especially.

Receiving Gifts: Christmas presents, birthday gifts, just-because gifts… For some people, getting a gift makes you feel loved, especially if it’s something you really want.

Quality Time: A quiet chat over dinner, a game of Go Fish, a walk around the neighbourhood… Some people need time and undivided attention to feel loved.

Physical Touch: A hug, a kiss, a simple pat on the back… Those with this love language express love through touch, and feel loved when they are touched by people they care about.

According to this model, a person could have all five love languages, but they usually are in varying degrees. It’s an interesting concept.

Do you know about it? Do you know your love languages? Let me know!

Posted in Non-language issues | Tagged | 2 Comments

NaNoWriMo woes

It’s November. Which means it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short, or, even shorter, NaNo).


“National” may be in the name, but it’s grown more international over the years since it started in the US in 1999 with just 21 participants: now, hundreds of thousands of writers participate.

The goal? To write a 50,000 word manuscript within the month of November. The focus is on quantity, not quality; just a way to get us writers to challenge ourselves to just write, then edit/improve it when you’re done.

I tried it once, in 2015. How many words did I manage to write, you ask? A whopping… 302.

I wanted to try it again this year, but… let’s just say it’s not going well. After I told her I hadn’t even started yet, one of my friends and fellow writers suggested I do a short story…

Let’s see what happens…

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JNV is back!

After months of inactivity, JSL News and Views is coming back online!


I used to use Windows Live Movie Maker to make our videos, but my old computer died, and I got a new one, and… Movie Maker has stubbornly refused to install.

So! I got a new program: Shotcut. This freeware allows overlaying images, so I’m excited to get started on editing today’s JNV broadcast!

It should be up by the end of the day, so please do watch it. The Deaf community has been missing it, and we are finally ready to start again!

Anyway, off to editing.  Till next week!


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