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 that said my new novel, And They'll Come Home (the sequel to One Man's Treasure), is #36 on'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 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

Order And They'll Come Home

Also, my spoken-word CD, She Is Poetry, is available for download on 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:

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)

Myspace music playerQuantcast

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, 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.

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?”

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?