Approximately one year ago I launched my fifth book, “Ma William and Her Circle of Friends” in Union, New Jersey. Two months later, during the Independence celebrations, I did the same in St. Joseph, my home village in Dominica.
The launching in St. Joseph was held at Matthew’s Hall which was formerly one of the two buildings that constituted the St. Joseph Government School. This “Down School” as many of us called it, was the same building where I began my education over fifty years ago. The memories are still fresh in my mind as I remember how we were all packed in that schoolroom – Stage One to Standard One – while teachers like Teacher Exillia, Teacher Bellot and the others, imparted knowledge. Yet, somehow we learned…this was part of life in St. Joseph then and we enjoyed it. We had no choice not to.
The launchings in Union and St. Joseph were a culmination of over three years of working on the manuscript: writing and rewriting, getting it edited, contacting publishers, getting help from friends re-checking the story-line, and some long nights while trying to meet deadlines. Those were wonderful and exciting moments for me because I had succeeded in seeing the outcome of all my work. Yet I knew then that there was much more work ahead of me.
Ma William and Her Circle of Friends has not been a financial whirlwind, but it has helped in highlighting the way of life of a village and community that I grew up in and bringing back “to life” what once was in that community. The process has helped to open avenues for me to promote my work and feel comfortable and confident with what I have been capable of doing as an author.
As an independent, self-published author, the task of promoting and selling the book has not been an easy journey. However, the rewards so far have been extremely gratifying. If I can share some of the feedback that I’ve received, that is besides the usual comments on Facebook or comments and emails from friends and supporters, you’ll appreciate what I mean:
“Ma William and Her Circle of Friends took me back to a time and place long past and evoked feelings of nostalgia, humor and hidden expectations. This is clearly reminiscent of the Caribbean literature that formed part of my curriculum at the Grammar School during my tenure as a student. I hope that this is only the beginning of the Ma William collection since Giftus has given life to his cast of characters, many of whom all Dominicans can identify with. This was part of life in Dominica as much as it was part of life in many Caribbean Islands and should remain part of our memories forever.”
“This was a very entertaining read. The characters became friends. I loved it. I found myself in tears when Mr. Jones left for the US with his son and Shirley left for University. Everyone who grew up on any of the Caribbean islands knows someone who fits each description. We all know a Ma William. It takes us back to a time when life in the Caribbean was just about changing – good days… simple days…. Days that we still long for… I would recommend this book to anyone of Caribbean heritage. “
I am grateful that I have been able to recreate a way of life that many people have been able to identify with and characters, especially Ma William and Bamboo, whom readers could relate to. I am also grateful that I have been able to tickle the imagination of those who missed that era within our community, not only in Dominica, but in other parts of the Caribbean.
In February I launched this site and the Facebook Page for “Ma William and Her Circle of Friends” with assistance from Savvy BestSellers. This was an effort to promote “Ma William and Her Circle of Friends” online, to get feedback from readers, and at the same time to share my perspective on life in St. Joseph, Dominica, and by extension, the Caribbean.
From 13-19 May 2012 I embarked on my first ever mini Virtual Book Tour which was gladly hosted by SomerEmpress, Savvy BestSellers, Caribbean Examinations Council, The Dominican.net, caribdirect.com and MiyView.com. I had stepped into unknown territory, but it was an exciting and exhilarating experience and I was glad that I accepted the challenge of Eunice Nisbett of Savvy BestSellers to do the book tour. The experience and all that went with this project was worth every minute. You can visit the blog sites and view the topics that appeared daily on each of the hosting sites. I hope to embark on another tour in the near future.
The journey for Ma William continues. I plan to participate in a few events later this year and formally close out my first year – I hope of many – but I pray that I can continue to build on what has been laid down this past year.
“Ma William and Her Circle of Friends” has been the most engaging of my projects thus far, though coming on the heels of “Mesye Kwik! Kwak!” which I believed had stretched my creativity, but I was mistaken. Ma William came out stronger. I pray that I have given myself the opportunity and the knowledge, and built the confidence to step boldly into the literary world with my next project which I hope won’t be too long.
If you have read the book, I invite you to visit my Amazon Author Central Page and leave a ‘like’ and review for Ma William. This will encourage other readers to get their copy of the book and experience life in a Caribbean island through the eyes or Ma William.
Thanks to all who have been supportive of me and Ma William –the character- and thanks to the long list of friends and family who played a role and continue to play a role in making “Ma William and Her Circle of Friends” come alive in our hearts and minds. Your support has been invaluable.
Thanks and blessings, all.