Sunday, December 12, 2010

Some Hair-Raising Words

Yesterday, I had a great conversation with a girlfriend. We discussed self-esteem on a multitude of levels, and one of the topics that came up was sisters rocking short hair-dos, and how much self-esteem that actually takes. Later, I remembered some material that I had written on the subject years ago that had been collecting dust in my notebooks, and thought they would be perfect to use here today. One is an article that I wrote about my own experience with first cutting my hair short, and then finally going natural. The second piece is an excerpt from what was supposed to be a short guide I was gonna write about the process of going natural. But, me being me, I started it, then got hung up on writing projects that were clearly more of a priority for me; but I knew one day I'd get back to it. I always do. So, what I've done is a part one, part two, with both pieces of writing, since they're each pretty short. I hope women and men are able to garner something positive from this. I'd love to hear your comments/thoughts and ideas. This first selection, which I have tweaked slightly today, was written in 2003; the second was written maybe a couple of years later.

PART ONE—HAIRitage: Killing My Dependency ... Naturally

I remember when my chemical dependency first began. It was 1985. A mandatory high school aquatics class changed my life; and in a flash I went from a wash, press, and curl to a [chemical] relaxer. [Had I not done so, dealing with my wet hair in its natural state, in the short span of time between classes, would have made it impossible for me to get to my next class on time.] In the end, what started out being a temporary solution to a short-term problem became a full-fledged addiction. It was such a treat being able to comb through my hair without yelping out in pain when it was wet. No more hot combs, sitting in a sauna-like kitchen getting my ears, neck, forehead, and temples scorched just to combat my "naps." Gone were the days of a little mist in the air killing off my precious hairstyle. And boy, was it great being able to run my fingers through my hair! Needless to say, I continued getting my hair relaxed long after aquatics ended. The perks were great, and I felt free and liberated.

Fast-forward roughly fourteen years. After experimenting with a plethora of hairstyles, and making more trips to the salon than I will ever be able to count, I began to grow weary of the whole "relaxing" scene. While having straight hair did have its pros, there were some definite cons to take into consideration: spending a large chunk of money every two months on new-growth touch-ups; not being allowed to scratch my head for at least twenty-four hours prior to an appointment [scratching opens the pores and sometimes causes small lesions, which gives way to excessive burning when the chemicals are applied]; the hours of manual labor I had to put in to keep my hair looking good between appointments; painful chemical burns on my scalp, whether I scratched or not, which turned into hideous scabs plastered to my head, with small chunks of my hair matted together underneath them. But most of all, I was fed up with relying on a skilled beautician to keep my hair intact, and on her schedule, no less. I longed for something better and much healthier for myself, but I knew that whatever I chose to do would require an immense amount of confidence on my part.

November 4, 1999, the day I finally broke free from the shackles of the salon. After six months of heavy deliberation and an abundance of research, I made the great leap from long and straight to short, curly, and texturized. Although there were still chemicals involved (this process merely opens up your natural curl pattern and gives the hair a softer feel), they were lighter and considered safer than a relaxer; the solution is left in for less than ten minutes. A whole new world opened up for me. This was a simple, low-maintenance hairstyle that I could finally manage myself. I even learned how to cut it with a pair of electric clippers and a guard, which magnified my feeling of accomplishment. I felt I had struck gold in the world of hairdos.

About three years into my new-found freedom, a growing curiosity overtook me. I started wondering what my hair would look like without the texturizer. Even though I loved my hair, I had once again reached a point where I felt enslaved by chemicals. I began to question just how free and liberated I really was. I was seeing sisters wearing their hair natural, from Afro puffs, to locks, waves, and twists (short and long). These women were confident in their beauty and proud of their heritage; they were not caught up in the "straight-is-great" hype, or the need to alter their hair with harmful chemicals. I envied their true freedom, and I questioned: could I ever be bold enough to embrace my own natural beauty?

It took me nearly a year of preparation and soul searching, but I'm happy to say that June 22, 2003 was the day I escaped from the world of chemicals (and also cut my hair even shorter than before, down to less than half an inch). Each day, I have grown more and more fond of my natural curls, and now I am truly free!

For my sisters who are still keeping those appointments at the shop, getting "fried, dyed, and laid to the side," or even weaved, I hope to see you all one day sporting the natural look of your choice, and basking in the wonder of your hair's unique beauty, and above all, your own!

PART TWO—Going Natural ... Comfortably (Excerpt)

I cannot tell you how many sisters I've encountered who have expressed their frustration with their hair. They want to break free of the shackles of chemicals and weaves, but they either don't know what else to do with their hair, or they're afraid to do what they really want: go natural. They see my hair, compliment me on it, and then tell me they wish they could "do that." I confidently assure them that they definitely can; I even give them my famous girl-go-'head-and-cut-your-hair pep talk. And then, they give me a laundry list of reasons why they really can't.

Let's face it: we're vastly different. I'm speaking only of my African sisters right now, to make my point. With our myriad genetic backgrounds, it goes without saying that our hair also comes in a multitude of textures, thickness, and lengths. I will admit that prior to cutting my hair, and then getting comfortable with it in its natural state, I spent a considerable amount of time eyeing other sisters' hair, wishing I had some of what they had. Be it their soft, silky texture, their endless length, or their bouncin'-and-behavin' curls, it seemed as if every sister out there had something better than I did. For years, I compared my hair to that of countless women, and what I finally discovered is that it's not worth it, nor is it healthy. Period.

For those of you out there who indulge in the world of chemicals, weaves, or even still undergo the dreaded hot comb, but long to make the drastic switch to the natural look, you must understand that it is a decision that should not be made without a considerable amount of thought, first. The reason I say that is, it's no secret that a woman's hair is her staple. When we aren't comfortable with the way our hair looks, it can greatly affect our mood, and many times the way we feel about ourselves that day. That said, I urge you to make sure you're really ready for the change when you do it. It can be a huge shock emotionally; and if, for some reason, you (or even your friends and loved ones, especially your man) don't like the outcome, you're liable to plummet deep into the throes of depression. Trust me, I've seen it happen. If you're one who feels that you only look good with, say, bone-straight hair, I would suggest a course in what I call Self-Esteem 101, taught by, none other than, yourself. Losing the straight look (or whatever look you rock that's not natural), means you're comfortable with who you are and your overall appearance. It means that you're proud of your heritage and can embrace it without feeling like less of a woman just because your hair doesn't cascade down the middle of your back, light as a feather, and blow in the wind. If you're having trouble getting in touch with the part of yourself that knows you're beautiful just the way you are, you're not alone. For many, it takes time and self-nurturing. Sometimes, it's an ongoing process.

You see, it's not your fault that you may think your natural hair is unattractive, so don't beat yourself up for not having the guts to just go for it when considering that short crop, or even those sisterlocks or dreads. [European] society at large has led us to believe that our hair needs help or fixing. Just look at all the hair-product commercials on TV. 99 percent of them feature a long-haired Caucasian woman who ensures us that "she's worth it." In the few that do showcase a sister, they have her swinging long, straight hair across the screen. Pay close attention to the ads in top African-American-based magazines. Nearly half of the ads are for some type of chemical product used to transform our hair from unruly to manageable. I've heard a lot of stories from men and women about how they haven't gotten certain jobs because they were asked to change their Afrocentric hair, and they refused. Then, there are the dreaded music videos. In the majority of them where sisters are involved, they have long, flowing hair. If, by chance, a sister with short hair is given a part, hers is usually bone straight with not a hair out of place. I've only witnessed a few artists who are clearly pro-heritage, so to speak, who have sisters with natural dos in their videos. This saddens me. And finally, we have our men. Many, many brothers I've talked to have made it clear that they prefer women with long hair, straight or not; some don't even care if they're wearing a weave, so long as it's, well, long. I've heard everything from "It just looks better" to "It feels good to the touch" to "Women with long hair are just prettier and sexier" to "I like my woman to have long hair so I can run my fingers through it and pull it during sex" (yep, that one too!) to "Women shouldn't have short hair like men" to "Natural hair on a woman isn't feminine enough." All of that just makes my stomach turn. Seriously.

What are your memories as a child of someone telling you that your natural hair was beautiful? Maybe some of you have those fond memories, but sadly, many of us don't. What I do remember is many tearful mornings where my mother struggled to comb through my hair in order to get it into ponytails. I remember dreading getting my hair washed because I knew the aftermath would be unbearable. Back then, products like leave-in conditioner didn't exist. There was no great way to soften the hair before attempting to comb through the shriveled and tangled locks. The frustration both my mother and I would feel while she tried to manage my wet hair was indescribable. With moments such as these, and with no one to reassure us that our hair really was beautiful the way it was, it's no wonder that, over time, we came to resent our hair, and developed the overwhelming desire to turn our backs on what is actually a gorgeous and unrivaled treasure.

*To be continued...

A little footnote: I am in no way suggesting that every sister should go natural. Natural may not be for everyone. My views on the subject are just that: mine. I respect everyone else's as well.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

VICARIOUSLY SPEAKING: ALL YOU NEED TO GET BY

                                 GOT POEMS?

This collection is easily Charlene E. Green's best yet. It has been labeled "self-help poetry," and for good reason. With her signature poems "Self-Construction," "Revelationary Tears," and "Damaged Goods" gracing the pages, it's easy to see why, after absorbing this potent content, you'd feel you just had therapy. But there is also fun to be had among the hard-core food for thought. So go on ... immerse yourself. Treat yourself. Today.
                                                     
                                         $10.00
               TREAT YOURSELF HERE


For more information about my work and other purchasing options, please visit www.hustledivaspeaks.com

Friday, April 30, 2010

NaPoWriMo 30/30 - Double Tanka

PERSONAL VICTORY

Don't let the fact that
you failed to win the prize make
you feel like you lost;
if you did your best, you won
in the most important way.

Prizes should not be
used to measure your self-worth;
it should already
be intact so no matter
what, you feel like a victor.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

NaPoWriMo 24/30 - Haiku

DO IT YOURSELF

Parents, your kids aren't
put on this earth to fulfill
your dreams; that's your job

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Special NaPoWriMo, 21&22/30 - For Alice

I just found out that one of our beloved poetry-family members, Alice "The Poet" Nicholas, was hospitalized with cardiac spasms. Some of us are writing poems for/to her while she's undergoing observation at Cedars Sinai. These two poems are Tanka, which is similar to the Haiku, except the formatting of the lines' syllables is 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. For more info about Tanka poetry, visit http://www.americantanka.com/about.html


PIECE O' CAKE

Alice is strong, so
this little bump in the road
ain't no thang for her
plus, she got too many friends
prayin' for her to bounce back

CONFIRMATION

I heard some great things
about Alice The Poet
and when I met her
she blessed me with her skills and
I found out they were all true


Get well soon, Alice! We're not done with you yet!

NaPoWriMo 14- 20/30: HAIKU TIME!

All right, it's time for me to work out some Haiku around here. Actually, I have a book that I'm working on called "Haiku You Do That to Me?": A Little Book of Haiku. I started it last year during NaPoWriMo time, and I wrote about 20 of them. I haven't worked on it since then, really, so I'm using this time to add some more to the pot. For those who aren't familiar with what a Haiku poem is, here's some basic info (cut & pasted from a site):

Haiku is a poetic form and a type of poetry from the Japanese culture. Haiku combines form, content, and language in a meaningful, yet compact form. Haiku poets, which you will soon be, write about everyday things. Many themes include nature, feelings, or experiences. Usually they use simple words and grammar. The most common form for Haiku is three short lines. The first line usually contains five (5) syllables, the second line seven (7) syllables, and the third line contains five (5) syllables. Haiku doesn't rhyme. A Haiku must "paint" a mental image in the reader's mind. This is the challenge of Haiku - to put the poem's meaning and imagery in the reader's mind in ONLY 17 syllables over just three (3) lines of poetry!

So, I don't always go for the great imagery; sometimes I go the route of making a good point or saying something witty. The idea is to do whatever you're gonna do (tell a story, make a point, etc.) in the 3 lines, making sure the syllables in your lines are 5, 7, 5. You might think throwing 3 measly lines together to make a poem is easy, but it's kinda not. In order to write a good Haiku, some thought has to go into the message, while staying on point with your line formatting. There are some hard-and-fast Japanese rules for Haiku poems which involve the use of seasons as part of the imagery/message, but a lot of the Haiku you see poets writing may not conform to that. Some people title theirs, some don't; I always do.

QUIET ANTICIPATION

Slumber caresses
my body while I dream of
tomorrow's blessings

PASSIONATE RAYS

Sun's kissin' my lips
warm 'n' soft like a lover
who's cravin' my taste

ONE-STOP SHOP

When searching for his
truth, the first place she checks is
the look in his eyes

PREP COURSE

Determination's
the first step when planning for
all life's victories

SHORT CHANGED

Access to my thoughts
will cost more than a penny
don't insult their worth

SENSE PERCEPTION

The sound of my name
dancing on your tongue is my
ears' favorite song

TIME-SENSITIVE EMOTIONS

He ships her his love
overnight from his heart, marked
return to sender

Monday, April 12, 2010

NAPOWRIMO BACKLOG

So, I'm a couple of days behind in Napowrimo. Hey, I been busy trying to have a career around here! But, I'll try to catch up this week. Gotta get my brain focused on some subject matter, and there is plenty; I just have to think of which topics to tackle, poetry style.

I will say, though, that I'm very happy with the work I've done so far. Friday's poem wasn't my best (and I kind of didn't mean for it to be); it was based on how I was feeling at the moment, and that was all I felt like saying. Of course, just like the poem says, I sucked it up and let the moment pass, and now I'm feeling much better today.

This challenge really is good for the creative juices. It's amazing to see what we poets come up with at the drop of a dime, as opposed to actually waiting for random inspiration. I've talked to several poets who said they weren't gonna get involved in Napowrimo because they didn't like the idea of "forcing" themselves to create because they felt it would take the fun out of writing; yet, at the last minute, they decided to get in on the challenge, and they're not only hangin' tough, but also coming up with great poems in the process. I just think that's fly. Period. The creative process is so fascinating. Even though it can be daunting thinking about trying to write something new every day for 30 days, once you get started, and you watch yourself push through the act, you feel so accomplished when you see your final product. Well, I do. Let me not speak for everyone else.

All right, lemme put on my thinking cap and see what I can put together before midnight. Maybe I can manage to make up for those two lost days, on top of getting today's done. If not, it's okay. I've done a great job so far. It's all in good fun anyway. Once it stops being fun, it's time to reevaluate why it's even being done, as far as I'm concerned.

Blog wit'cha soon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

NaPoWriMo 9/30

SKIN I'M IN

Today my skin wears real thin
This path I've chosen is rough
Feel like throwin' the towel in
But even if I tried to seek solace
In the arms of another path
I'm married to this-here way of life
So that affair would never last
See I've tried to escape it all
Turn my back and jump ship
But I fail each time I do
Cuz it's anchored to my hip
I just want it to sail away sometimes
Find a thicker-skinned girl to harass
But since I know I can't live without it
I suck it up and let the moment pass
These threats of leaving it behind
Are all empty and illigit
No matter how thin my skin today
This writing thing I will never quit








Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's National Poetry Month...Let's GET IT!

NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing Month. The most challenging, sometimes grueling, 30 days of any poet's life. The time where we all put our brains to work overtime as we push ourselves (lovingly, that is) to make the effort to write one poem a day in April. Yep, that means by the end of it all, if we're not completely insane or haven't dropped out of the challenge by then, we will have at least 30 new poems added to our collections. If writing a poem a day for 30 days doesn't sound like much of a challenge to you, then you either haven't been part of this program, or you have, and you're able to bat out those poems with no problem, and you're just a damn show-off. Fine, then. Just don't throw it in the faces of those who are toiling over a haiku at 11:53 p.m., trying to get it done by midnight so we're not in [moral] violation.

I joined in late last year, around the 8th or 9th of April, and I have to say, it was fun some days, and others I really didn't think I'd be able to make myself produce anything, not even the above-mentioned haiku, which is only three measly lines. But me being me, I don't like to throw garbage together, so even the haikus had to be potent. By the end of the month, I was totally worn out mentally, but I did have some great new material in my poetry pot, several of them becoming performance pieces that I'm very proud of, and that are quite popular. So, you see, it was worth the struggle. And who ever said struggle was supposed to be fun, anyway? What it does is show us what we're made of, and how far we're willing to go to challenge ourselves to win in any situation. When we've done so (won, that is), we look back on the struggle and thank ourselves for taking it on and hanging in there.

Yeah, ummmmm...I'm talkin' a LOTTA smack right now, heehee, but the reality is, I'm a little nervous. It's day one, and I'm already sweating over the first poem, "Damaged Goods." Writing on cue isn't my favorite thing, and I've claimed to not be able to do it, but, actually, I had to do it recently, and I was happy with that poem; plus, I did it last April. So, I guess I should reevaluate my take on that subject, because, clearly, with some will, discipline, and concentration, I can write on cue and have the end result be quite satisfying.

Well, I've got till midnight to finish my poem, so at least that gives me the rest of the day to turn on the old creative faucet and hope it does more than drip; I need a full-blast flow...every day this month.

To those of you poets who are on board, good luck, and have fun! I hope to see and hear some of your new poems as we go along! Mine will be posted right here in my blog, so stay tuned! "Damaged Goods" will be up by midnight!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Performance at Catalyst Community

Thanks to Eric from Catalyst Community for recording my performance on Saturday night (3/13)! I had a blast, and I hope to be back for more mic flow soon! Enjoy the vids!







Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Impromptu Video Shoot

Last weekend, I was hangin' with some friends at the Catalyst Community, a nonprofit organization out in Long Beach, and I spit my new poem, "Self-Construction," for them. The next thing I knew, I was being shoved (lovingly) into a corner of the kitchen area and told the piece needed to be on video "NOW!" according to author and motivational speaker Lacey C. Clark, who hooked this video up for me. It has become a very important poem in my collection because it talks about the incessant inner-realm work we all have to do on ourselves in order to be our best selves, and how, sometimes, we just don't wanna do it, yet there's no way around it. I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

In Competition—With Myself

So, I've started writing Aftershock, the third book in the One Man's Treasure series (which, by the way, wasn't even supposed to go any further than the first book), and what I've found is that I'm actually intimidated—by my own self! I know, it doesn't really make any sense. Lemme explain...

Before One Man's Treasure was released for the first time in 2007 (self-published), I had put a lock on that whole project. One book on those characters, that was it. I was happy with what I had done. Proud, even. I had moved on and started a couple of other books. But when people started asking me when the sequel to OMT was coming out, I was kinda thrown off. Not that I hadn't briefly considered doing one during the initial writing process, but it was very brief, and the ideas I had come up with weren't totally developed, though I will say I was tempted to move forward with one of the storylines. But once I was done writing OMT, I realized, or so I thought, that my characters had been through enough, and so had the story, and I should just nix the idea of a sequel. Again, I was totally happy with that idea. But for some reason, I couldn't get away from the sequel questions. Finally, after a series of events, and one very serious sequel conversation with a friend of mine, I decided to write one. And man, oh man, did I write it! I had no idea I could even come up with the stuff that's on the pages of And They'll Come Home. It was as if the story were truly meant to be told; during the writing process, it literally fell out of my soul and onto the computer screen with hardly any problems at all (barring a few obstacles I had to deal with in doing my research on some of the book's subject matter). From the moment I typed the last word of the manuscript till this very second, I've been on pins and needles in anticipation of its release. Um, yeah, I finished the book February 4, 2008, so, as you can probably guess, it's been a rough two years!

But here's the issue: after I finished that book, it occurred to me that there could be yet another story waiting in the wings. At first, I didn't give it too much thought, but, as time went on, it became clearer and clearer that there was definitely more on the menu. The thing is, I've been afraid to even approach it, because, honestly, I'm just not sure how I'm gonna top the sequel. Of course, I can't tell you why specifically; you'll need to read it to see for yourself, but suffice it to say that the amount of drama and surprise involved in it is making it difficult for me to come up with situations that are gonna be equally moving, or more so, in Aftershock. I'd like to say that after I get several chapters under my belt, that concern will fade.

For now, those of you who haven't read OMT, please do so, and then pick up And They'll Come Home (for release March 2nd, 2010; pre-order on Amazon.com). Feel free to hit me up and give me your opinions and comments. And once you're done with both books, I'd love to hear what you'd like to see happen in the third installment. I do have a good portion of the storylines in place, but I'm open for good, realistic suggestions that will help expand the story's appeal.

I'm only on chapter two of Aftershock, so we'll see how well I can outdo myself with this project. Hopefully, by the time it's all over, I'll be able to say I feel confident that I've beat myself at my own game.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thank You to All My Readers

Without you, I have no career. This is a simple yet humbling fact. A few minutes ago, I saw an ad on Amazon.com that said my new novel, And They'll Come Home (the sequel to One Man's Treasure), is #36 on Urban-Reviews.com's top 100 Most Anticipated Black Fiction Books (Upcoming Titles). I've seen this list before, even as early as a few months back, and I wasn't on it. Now, I am. For those who aren't aware, this is a huge deal. To know that people all over the world are sitting in anticipation of something I wrote is a feeling that can't be described. It lets me know that while I'm in my corner of the universe, working hard to make sure I give the world my best, people in other corners feel that what I've given them so far is good enough to warrant my making an "anticipation list," as they anxiously wait to get the next piece of my creative pie.

When I think of how many times I've anticipated the release of an artist's work, whether a movie, CD, concert, or book, I think of the feeling I had when I was waiting, the rush of excitement that so-and-so's such-and-such is about to take place, and how long I've been impatiently waiting for it. I never really thought about how the artist must feel to know that people are actually waiting...for them...to give more of themselves...and scratch that all-too-familiar itch that we each harbor to be entertained—and satisfied in the end.

March 2nd is the date of release for my book, and I think I'm probably more excited than anyone about it. I'd love to tell you why, exactly, but I'll keep the deets to myself. What I will say is this: Those who are waiting for me to scratch their itch, I promise, I'll scratch it reeeeeal goooooood. Until then, thanks so much for thinking enough of me and my work to put me on a "we're waiting" list. Knowing this only fuels my creative fire that much more, and inspires me to work harder to give you even better product in the future.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eliminating Delusion

2009 was a fabulous year for me, creatively. I had my first novel, One Man's Treasure, go mainstream; I self-published my entire 3-part poetry series, From Me to You...Through Mine Eyes; I self-published a great little career self-help guide called You Are What You Say You Are: Claiming Your Life's Mission & Living Your Dream; and with the help of a good-hearted and fiercely talented producer, I made my first spoken-word CD, She Is Poetry, not to mention all the events I did. My ass was hustlin' like tomorrow wasn't gonna come. But, then again, that's precisely why my name is Hustle Diva. I'm always on the grind, trying to find new ways to accomplish my mission in life, all the while inspiring the public in the process. So, with all those great products in effect, one would think I was rolling in the dough, huh? Well, I have one word for you: DELUSION. Actually, there are a lot of words that would fit in that spot, but the one I chose fits the best for what I'm about to discuss.

People's assumptions are really funny. They see us artists out here with our various wares, toting our bags of choice full of said wares to venues and events, and automatically assume that because we have so much stuff for sale, we're rich. We got bank. The ends are more than meetin'; they're married. They see our mass emails, our please-support-my-products posts across all fifteen of the sites we're on (Facebook, Myspace, etc.), and they think, "Damn, he/she must have bank with all that product he/she's selling." And therein lies the operative word: SELLING. See, in order for us to have this "bank" that people assume we have, we would need to be SELLING our product on a regular basis. The problem is, unless you, the public, actually buy our work, there will, in most cases, and especially if product sales is an artist's mainstay, be no meeting of the ends.
Until I became a "struggling artist" myself, I believe that I, too, was guilty of such delusions. It's human nature. We see what we wanna see when we see what's in front of us. Trust me, that made perfect sense. And it was kinda profound. Basically, what I'm saying is, unless someone tells us what's really going on in the situations we're viewing, we naturally make our own judgments about what the story is. When it comes to artists and our products, the assumption is that we're automatically successful in our endeavors to garner sales, but, sadly, this is not always the case. Truth be told (and I told you I would tell it), it's damn hard being an otherwise-unknown artist whose main fan base is family and friends. And if I may be even more truthful, not all the family and friends buy our products, either. If that statement offended anyone, then maybe you're a "friend" or "family" that hasn't lent your full support to someone you know is struggling to make it. I invite you to ask yourself why, and answer honestly. Disregard that statement if you're in financial straits. If your artist friend or family member knows this, they should understand. I believe most artists hope their friends and family (who are financially able to do so) will buy all their products, whether the products interest them 100% or not, simply because it's them, and especially if they know how hard the person is working to get to their "big break." And, quiet (or maybe not so quiet) as it's kept, if I may be so bold as to speak for the majority, we value the opinions of our friends and family the most. Your seal of approval helps boost our confidence; it makes us feel like we just might be ready for the rest of the world to see or hear our creation.
If you're an artist whose money is tight, that means you have to find innovative ways to market yourself so people can find out about you and what you have to offer. This is even harder. Craigslist, Facebook, Myspace, and the other free sites will only get you so much recognition. In order to really make yourself known, you have to have the resources (read: money, money, and more money) to do it. Advertising on Google is very effective. The more you pay, the more pages you end up on in the search engine. In the world of advertisement, you really do get what you pay for.
But I digress. Sorry. Tangent. I'll work on that issue. I was talking about the delusions of the general public in regards to us artists who, like every other professional who is trying to feed and clothe themselves off what they do, want to be successful, too. We don't wanna have to resort to working a day job that we're not the least bit interested in simply because we aren't making enough at our real passion to support ourselves. It's bad enough having to work at a job that you don't like when you haven't found your path in life; it's a hundred times worse to have to do it when you know what it is you're here on earth to do, but you can't do it full time because you're not making more than $25.00 a week doing it. If that. You're in the depths of spiritual hell every day that you don't have the freedom to pursue your career of choice. And let me tell you, this misery makes us reeeeeaaallly difficult people to deal with, at times.
I've been having conversations with people lately about product sales. What I'm learning is that people really do need to be told, point blank, no holds barred, what we're experiencing in this journey of ours to "make it" in whatever part of the entertainment business we're in. They're genuinely surprised at how the creative industry functions, its many, many drawbacks, and that, contrary to their belief, our lives (and our bank accounts) are not always what they seem. We would love to say we can make it in the biz without your help, but, alas, we can't. There is no way an artist of any kind can advance without the public's support. If you don't go see our movies, watch our TV shows, rent our DVDs, buy our books, CDs, paintings, come to our events, or support our stores and businesses, we don't get paid, and then we're scrounging, begrudgingly, I might add, for some day job we don't even want, just so we can put food on the table. Do I understand that you're not gonna be interested in everybody's products? Of course. You can't possibly buy, or even want to buy, every artists works. But just because you're not into this-or-that thing that someone has, maybe you know someone who is, and if you pass the word along to them, maybe they will wanna partake. You never know what helping that artist gain that one sale will do for them. It may put gas in their car for the week; it may buy them enough to eat for a few days; it may allow them to pay a bill or two. When we ask you to "please pass the word along," we're asking because we understand that although you may have no interest in what we're offering, someone you know might. When we ask you to please leave reviews about our work, we ask because we need those reviews to help our sales (and, yes, because we really do wanna know what you thought of our work). Products for sale on sites that have no reviews are the ones that get skipped over because no one has taken the time to say it was good. If someone runs across a pile of positive reviews about a product, the natural instinct is to look further into it, maybe even buy it. I can't tell you how many times I've bought something I had no intention of even looking at, but, based on the reviews and comments, I felt inclined to see what I was missing. My point is, just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes that same village to help an artist advance.

There was a time when I blamed the economy for our lack. "People are struggling; they can't afford to give up extra money to buy our ______." What I've seen with my own four eyes, yes, four, is that this is completely untrue. People buy what they wanna buy. Period. Economy schmonomy. People are still spending money on the things they really want, no matter what it is. They're buying clothes, jewelry, perfume and cologne, makeup, going out to eat, to concerts, sports events, the movies, buying select books and music, taking trips here and there, and even buying houses and cars. I'm telling you, I see it every day. It amazes me that people will actually tell me they haven't had time to buy my CD, when I know for a fact it only takes a few minutes to download or order it. Or they tell me they're gonna go to my site today and buy such-and-such, and then I get nothing but crickets; the purchase never takes place. Do they owe me that sale? Not at all. People are free to do whatever they like with their money. Just, please don't bullshit me with those kinds of responses. I'm a big girl. I like, can definitely handle, and really appreciate and prefer the truth. If you're not interested, say that (or some derivative of it). It might sting for a minute, but at least I'll know where you really stand. And I won't be mad at the truth. It's respectable, and it leads to clear understanding between people.
Is it all about the money for me? Absolutely not. I don't just wanna sell my products; I want people to buy them and feel they got more than their money's worth. I want people to be motivated, deeply and positively affected, educated, pleasantly surprised by what they got because maybe they just weren't expecting "all that." I want my work to help others advance in some way in their lives, even if it's miniscule. I want people to say, "Because of Charlene's ________, I'm inspired to__________." Or, "When I heard/read Charlene's ________, it helped me deal with_________." So, when I'm pushing for sales, it's not because I just wanna clean out people's wallets; it's because I feel confident that I have something people can benefit from, spiritually or otherwise, even if they think they can't because (A) they aren't open enough to explore what I have, or (B) they don't really understand what it is I'm offering. I've had my share of moments where I've supported someone's work and was glad I did because it showed me something I hadn't seen before, broadened my horizons to some extent. Sometimes, it's healthy to travel a road you normally wouldn't. You may find yourself with a whole new way of looking at things.
Until you've walked a block in our shoes, you'll never truly understand our difficult plight. We know this. Ultimately, what we hope is that you'll lend a hand when you can, in whatever way flows naturally from your heart. All support is appreciated in the end. At least, it is by me.

Snooz, My Muse

So, tonight, I was reading a friend's blog, and was so inspired by hers that I decided it was time for me to get on the ball with mine. Funny thing is, I'm the writer, she's not; she's a photographer, and her blog is filled with interesting, witty entries that had me completely engaged! Now, let me backtrack on that comment so there's no confusion about what I just said. We all know that misconstrued words lead to rumors. When I said I'm the writer, she's not, what I meant was that writing is my career, not hers. I didn't mean she can't write. She's a great writer, in fact. There. That should clear up any pre-rumor concoctions in your heads. I've been friends with Suzanne Miller Scott for way too long to have one sentence taken out of context and then spread to the masses, thereby threatening to shut down our bond.

But getting to the main issue at hand: Why Charlene doesn't blog regularly. I find it amusing that, as a writer, and as someone who actually does love to write, my blog has been housing cobwebs so thick that a blow torch would have a helluva time clearing the space around here. I started this blog way back in May of 2008. I had one paltry entry (it's still here; check it out). And, to be honest, I jacked that entry from my Myspace blog and cut and pasted it here. Does that count as blog cheating? Let me know when the jury's in on that one. Anyway, so I posted it, and I never wrote anything else (other than the recent info about all my projects). I've been busy. Writing. Other stuff. Like my novels, poetry books, instructional and self-help guides, and trying to make a living doing my career...writing. And performing my poetry. And editing. And coaching. And consulting. And motivational speaking. That's a lot of stuff, huh? So, I'm gonna use all that as the excuse for the fact that I haven't written a real blog entry in almost two years. Okay, wait. That's not cool, me lying to the public already and we're just now getting to know each other. The real reason I haven't blogged is...I guess it just hasn't been of much interest to me most of the time. And the times I have thought of doing it, I simply didn't feel like making the effort.

There's my truth. One thing about me is, I do tell it like it is, whether people like it or not. So, I'll be doing a lot more of that right here. I do have a lot to say, and even more on my mind, so I think now's the time for me to use my blog to my advantage and start spewing a little dome chatter on the regular.


Thanks, Snooz (Suzanne Miller Scott). This act-right juice sure tastes good!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Project Info

It's almost time for the release of And They'll Come Home, the sequel to One Man's Treasure, 39 days, to be exact. Are you ready??? You don't wanna miss the shocking events that are about to take place! You can pre-order the book on Amazon.com:

Order And They'll Come Home

Also, my spoken-word CD, She Is Poetry, is available for download on Amazon.com for $8.99:

Order She Is Poetry

If you haven't seen my new line of Hustle Diva Speaks T-shirts, please check them out. My unique slogans, as well as some of the haiku [poems] from my collection, are printed on the front of the shirts. Click shirts for prices & magnified views of print. My CD is available on this site, too, for download or physical purchase:

Order Hustle Diva Speaks Tees

Lastly, please don't forget to stop by my spoken-word site and check out my projects, upcoming shows & events, and samples of my work:

www.hustledivaspeaks.art.officelive.com

Hope you all are well! Thanks in advance for your support!

Monday, January 4, 2010

For Your Entertainment

Some more tracks for you to sample before buying the CD. (Dermatology 101 and Takers not included on CD)

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

And They'll Come Home



Well, it's almost that time...time for you to get prepared for my new novel, the sequel to One Man's Treasure. And They'll Come Home will be the surprise of the year in the literary world. I promise you that. And I don't promise things that often. This is a book that's definitely tailored for the men this time, but it's still full of the drama that the women need, too. If you haven't read its prequel, well, I suggest you get started on that, because let me tell you—you have no business trying to creep up on a come up where the sequel is concerned if you haven't gotten ready for its content by reading part one. March 2nd is the date of birth, and Mama has been close to bursting at the seams for over a year! You can pre-order your book at Amazon.com, or you can wait and get it directly from me the first week it hits the shelves. I'll have my private stash by then. Below are the summaries for both books.

ONE MAN'S TREASURE:
Katrice Vincent has waited a long time to find her soul mate. When Weston Porter
successfully sweeps her off her feet, she knows for sure she’s found what she’s been searching for. There’s just one problem: After more than ten years, her lifelong obsession, Royce, has returned to their hometown. Back in high school, he made it clear that she wasn’t the one for him; now, he’s presenting her with a tempting offer that rocks—and could shatter—her world.

Will she be able to find the strength to stay true to the one man she knows in her
heart she belongs with? Or, will she risk everything for the one man she knows in her heart she’s never gotten over, so that she can finally close this long and traumatic chapter?

Go with Katrice on her whirlwind, exciting, nail-bitingly tense, and moral-testing journey, as she walks you step-by-step through the before-and-after of the biggest
decision of her life. You will ask yourself for years to come, “What would I have done?”

AND THEY'LL COME HOME:
Eight years ago, Royce Phillip Jordan III wreaked havoc on the lives and the relationship of Katrice Vincent and Weston Porter. After nearly a year of hell, the two managed to find their way back to each other and resume being the loving couple they were before the damage was done. But the eight years that have passed have merely been the calm before the storm, because while Katrice and Weston have moved on with their lives, sore-loser Royce has not.

Dissatisfied with the way things ended with Katrice, Royce returns to try to conquer her once and for all, by any means necessary, and with no regard for who may get hurt in the process. This time, the journey is rougher, fiercer, and even
more emotionally charged than the first, as Katrice and Weston fight—in very different ways—to keep their relationship and family intact, and out of Royce’s ruthless destruction zone.

Do they have what it takes to prevail for a second time? Or will Royce tear Katrice away from Weston for good, and finally win the heart of the woman of his dreams?