Sunday, October 3, 2010

Enjoy Snippet #2 from Novel: "Daughter of the Caribbean"


A few guests in their Sunday best milled around, talking about how Miss Edna’s daughter died in England, and how the body had to be flown back to Jamaica for burial in the family’s yard. One woman lamented how scary it was that Jamaicans were dropping dead from hard work in England and America, and their bodies were sent home and put to rest.
Our mouths flew open as a gravedigger let out an ear-piercing yell, “Oh Lord!”
          He rose from the grave with a clammy, dripping skull in hand. Miss Edna bolted toward her nearby house screaming, “Oh God, that is my son!”
          In seconds, she was racing franticly back to the grave, dragging an old white sheet. With anguish in her eyes, she grabbed the skull and what looked like some old bones, hurriedly wrapped them in the sheet, and ran back into her house screaming, “My son! They dug up my son!”
          With lightening speed and kicking up dust, we left that scene, fleeing through the woods back to Sedith’s house. Our hearts racing, jumping over bushes, ducking tree branches in our fastest ever bare-foot marathon, I grabbed the back of Clinton’s shirt to keep up with him. He shucked it off into my hands and sped ahead like a bullet. It was about to get worse. We put our brakes on to avoid crashing into Cookie who was suddenly in front of us, staring us down, wide-eyed, and armed with the big, rusty soupspoon. She yelled, “Your grandmother wants you in the house for dinner right now!”
 We gingerly approached Sedith’s dining room, trembling and breathing heavily. As we sat down around the big mahogany dining table, Sedith smiled sadistically and announced, “It’s calf’s liver, rice and peas, and fried plantains for dinner. Start licking your lips because it is delicious!”
          After what we had just witnessed in Miss Edna’s yard, we clutched our throats, gagging and coughing at the sight of liver on our plates. Like trapped animals we gobbled down the food, trying to hide our disgust, and to avoid the infamous belt. Sedith stared at us with playful curiosity, going “mmmmm!” as if to taunt us.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Update: "Daughter of the Caribbean"

Hey There! I've been swamped working on final edits, huddling with the artist, and writing Dedications and Acknowledgements. Are you a member on my facebook fan page.  Do you notice the Watercolor book cover up top?  What do you think?  Also click on the facebook badge button to the right and go to my facebook fanpage.  Press "LIKE" if you're not already a member!

Also, while on the facebook fanpage, Click on the Discussions tab and read "A Loud and Compelling Call", which is a snippet from the book's introduction. Watch out for more snippets every week. More to come!

Norma Jennings, Author
Daughter of the Caribbean

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Enjoy Snippet #1 from Novel: "Daughter of the Caribbean"


Jamaica is calling me again!

Exotic Jamaica, the island of my muse, where fowl feathers are fervently plucked so there is fresh poultry on the table; where I’m chastised for chatting patois (the local dialect) and not the Queen’s English; and where I’m lulled to sleep by loud pelts of rain on a tin roof. Profound Jamaica, is where I encountered joy, abandon, intrigue and adventure; where I gripped an old midwife’s hand and pushed my firstborn through my loins; where the people are strong, defiant and accomplished; and where my loved ones flourished and perished.

Twickenham in Jamaica is also calling me again!

Rich and conflicting Twickenham, where I galloped through tall grass, flirted with the supernatural, communed with harrowing and notorious ancestors, embraced my uniqueness, and learned that heritage influences character.

Childhood in Jamaica is calling me again! I pause, I listen, and this time I

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Daughter of the Caribbean"

By Norma Jennings


This novel is rich in history, compelling characters, violence and celebration, intrigue and romance, tragedy and triumph. It is inspired by the author’s personal experiences as a child in the Caribbean.

Abandoned by her mother at the age of four, Olivia is raised by her grandmother Edith Reid, the family's matriarch and an illustrious storyteller. Like a master sculptor, Reid chisels the character of her beloved grandchild, and braces her to prevail over life's inevitable challenges. Her chilling tales of the family estate called Twickenham shock Olivia and her adventurous siblings into both defiance and humility.

Long before they were born, Reid had inherited the old Jamaican sugarcane plantation from her own grandmother. As Twickenham becomes playground to the children, the family's great narrator, their grandmother, keeps its rich and violent past alive. Stories narrated by Reid portray Twickenham as a plantation in the late 1700s, riddled with mystery and brutality. Deliverance finally approached as Twickenham is slashed and burned by relentless Afro Caribbean freedom fighters called Maroons.

Olivia soaks up the messages of these stories with impassioned exuberance while she plays with her siblings at Twickenham. Their daily adventures include voodoo ceremonies and other bizarre Caribbean customs. One secret trip to a grotesque ceremony has Olivia and her brother bolting for safety after smoke ascends from a grave that the voodoo man had ceremoniously disturbed. Another childhood jaunt through Twickenham’s bushes has the two notorious siblings galloping away from a grave digging gone bad. And life as a Brownie is even more exciting, as Olivia and the troop leap into trees to escape the fury of a ferocious, hairy wild boar.

In the early 1970s, Olivia moves to the United States, becomes a business executive and single parent, and raises three children alone with a determination and resilience reminiscent of her Maroon forebears. During those years she is forced to cope from a distance with alarming political upheavals in her homeland that threaten both Twickenham and her family’s survival. And like a modern day Maroon, she wages a final battle to save the old estate that culminates with her own passionate slash and burn ritual. How she does that, what it demands of her, and the outcome she finds are bound inextricably to the ghosts and history of the Caribbean.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Are you a daughter of the Caribbean? Do you have a daughter of the Caribbean in your life? Can you smell the rum?"

 Jamaica is calling me again!

With bare feet I prance playfully through a sea of tall, mature grass that all but engulfs my slender, seven year old frame. In full motion, I stretch my arms outward and as my fingers fleetingly caress soft grass plumes, the warm Caribbean breeze clears a golden path before me. I’m on my grandmother’s estate in the small town of Portland Cottage, Jamaica.

A guava tree ahead bends gracefully with ripe fruit begging to be picked, as a doctor bird flutters merrily from fruit to fruit, relishing each aroma and flavor. Oh how I wish I could fly and savor, just like that fortuitous little creature.

And look at that display of purple “coolie plums” on the tree unveiling to my right. If my belly wasn’t protruding with brown stewed chicken and rice and peas from my grandmother’s kitchen, this smorgasbord of fresh tropical fruit would certainly be at my mercy. But alas, my eyes are bigger than my bowel.

After breezing by an array of other laden, fruit-bearing trees, I finally behold the ultimate prize…..a Bombay mango tree pleading for attention. It is a compelling sight; chock-full of mangoes ripened by the stunning Caribbean sun that now dozes in a westerly cradle, boasting hues of yellow, orange and purple.

Yearning for dessert I squat, then leap and grab a branch, pull myself up onto the trunk of the tree, and begin my greedy climb. I’m salivating while advancing towards the succulent reward that awaits me…a perfectly ripe, bright yellow mango with an orange glow on one side, just like this evening’s sunset. My lips smack with anticipation….it is a pearl in an ocean of fresh jewels. My left foot stumbles on a brittle tree branch. Close call; I anxiously grab a lush green branch above to save myself from obvious mutilation waiting below. I contain myself and continue the journey upwards.

Then ah, my right hand finally caresses the gem that’s been provoking my pallet. I perch myself contentedly on a sturdy branch and sink my teeth into that luscious feast. Then I bury my face into pure ecstasy and slurp for what felt like nirvana, coming up for air and ravenous chewing. Now my face is covered in an orange glow. Anything better than this must be the heaven that Parson Mitchell preaches about in church on Saturdays.

Bliss is crudely interrupted by a high-pitched shriek from Cookie, my grandmother’s maid.

“Miss Olivia, come down from that tree right now. You grandmother want you in the house and in the bath tub this very minute!”

I scamper down the tree of my delight and sprint home, knowing for sure that I’ll be back for more first thing tomorrow morning.