Sunday, November 1, 2015


You ever watch children
straining to get at things they want?

They don't care
how out of grasp
their desire is

They'll stand on their tippy toes
stretch both arms
outta their sockets
reach and curl
like they're doing yoga
and wiggle their fingers
while panting
and pushing out a succession
of pint-sized, laborious breaths
as if the extra three feet in height they need
to snatch it down
are gonna magically appear

have you watched  them?

When they get tired of that position
they'll start looking for something
to stand on:
a stool
a chair
a table
a counter top
the dog's back
all they know is
the thing is up there
they're down here
they gotta have it
and come hell or high water
it will
be theirs

Didn't snag it today?

Back in the game tomorrow
bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
mentally brushed off and suited up
like the previous day's defeat
has been hypnotically erased
from their brain

They keep coming back
the next day
the next
and for as many days
of reaching
and concentration
as it takes
to get their mitts
on the thing

To hell with anyone
who says they can't have it
that only makes 'em
stretch longer
focus better
dig their puny heels in
that much deeper

is an entire foreign language
until it springs from their lips
they understand it
speak it perfectly
cuz they don't care
what you're talking about—
the thing!

That used to be us
every day as kids

When we were after things
we were bold

No matter how many times
we fell over
got banged up
missed the mark
or were dragged away from the scene
kicking and screaming
our hearts were swamped
with all the commitment
we couldn't even
spell or define
at that age

But as we got older
something changed

Maybe there were too many falls
scars and failed attempts
too many adults
breathing their panic
and limited perceptions
of us
and our abilities
down our necks
grabbing at us
pulling us from our stance
trying to force us
into what they felt were
less dangerous boxes
of quests

When did we start listening
and obeying?

When did we start letting
a little distance
between us
and our goals
be a concern?

When did "no"
become a word
that suddenly made sense
in everyone else's language
while on our tippies
in relentless pursuit
of our targets?

Why does hearing it now
make us think twice
take our eyes off the prize
lose our delicate balance
of faith and courage
and tumble into a space
where our desires look more like
complex word problems
with too many variables to solve
than unlocked doors
sporting "Enter" signs
with our names next to them?

When did we start
looking at our dreams
with loss in our eyes
like watching a bouquet of balloons
with all of our intentions inside
floating out of our scope?

In what corner of our childhood
did we grudgingly stuff
our persistent optimism
like some taboo habit
we were told
should stay behind
on our way into adulthood?

It doesn't belong in our then
it should be anchored in our now

So let's all go back and find it
it's still there
buried in that corner
with our conviction
and the heap of people's "no's"
we're no longer fluent in

So the next time "they"
try to interrupt your mission
with "no"
make sure you look 'em
square in the eye
with your hands
arms and heart
open wide
in full anticipation
of your success
while you tell 'em
with that same child-like fire
in your glare
that you understand every word
in their language

that one

©2015 Charlene E. Green
From my upcoming book You Betta Write!

Friday, October 30, 2015


There's a special kind of
brazen condition
running haywire
among us

a many-faced
crazed delinquent
with no supervision
toting multiple personalities
stone-cold out of its mind
no watch guard
to shoot it down

this affliction
so potent
shrewdly influential
will have
those who should be guarding
the public
their fists

their excuses


on the public

no age limit
it consumes them
babies and all


some basic requirements are:
be walkin'
mindin' your business
with your tea and Skittles

be on a playground
with your BB gun
only 12-years
in your fingertips
caressing its frame

be changin' lanes
with no signal

be on the sidewalk
sellin' cigarettes

be a teen orphan
Judo-choppin' a tidal wave
of abandonment and rejection
your emotional wounds
a shrill operatic symphony
from the sting of its salt

be ambitious
be questionin' authority
be tryna state your case
be tryna stand up for your rights
be tryna enjoy life
be tryna do right

be tryna breathe

be tryna get home
to your little girl
on New Year's Day

somebody's black son or daughter
just tryna get through the day
hopin' to be greeted at your doorstep
by the moonlight
every night
instead of streamlights


tryna survive

And when they don't—
when they're blamed cuz they don't—
how are we
who watch our own
get obliterated
like battle-zone targets
from the sidelines of the media
supposed to
pretend we're okay
that our vision
isn't compromised
by fragments
of the unjust assaults and murders
puncturing our eyes

how are we supposed to
move through our days with ease
while treading the obstacle course
of war-torn bodies
and their mismanaged cases

keep the torch of hope
for their safety ablaze in our hearts
video footage
of their shrieks and pleas
extinguishing our flame

smile with the heaviness
of all their names
weighing our mouths down
syllables so cumbersome
they rupture our lips

swallow the air
from our jubilant bursts of laughter
and not vomit clumps of guilt

how are we supposed to
lasso this roaming hell
with so many
protective arms
and barbed-wire legal systems
surrounding it
that our hands
are disfigured
from every attempt
to pry them free  

how are they supposed to
have a chance at life
taste the sweetness of fulfillment
turn their sorrows into joys
make a difference in this world
and thrive in this abyss
where silence
and existence
are synonymous
with death?

©2015 Charlene E. Green

Friday, October 16, 2015


How wise we are
about people's demons

What experts we are
on the subject of morals
things people had no business doing
things they shouldn't have said
places they shouldn't have gone
when the monsoon struck
pulverized their generator of hope
and their world went dark

We're so well-versed
in their pain
how it should affect them
causes they should embrace
help they really  should have sought
should have been informed enough
to know about
wired "properly" enough
to be interested in
strong enough
to ask for
savvy enough
to pursue
worth-filled enough
to want
or even feel they deserved

People do the best they can
to deal with the boogeymen
hunting them
chasing them down the alleys
of their reality
with pitchforks
in the daylight
smothering them
in their dreams at night
crippling the half a heartbeat
they wake up with
pilfering their desire
to get out of bed
to wanna live
through the day

Their best
may not be a best
we approve of
but so what?
who are we
but disdainful bystanders
to speak on
how to confront
much less slaughter
the beasts
on people's streets

Already strugglin'
to win the battle
with the brutes on ours
but got all the know-how
about what it takes
to take out others' woes
repave the roads they travel

Got more
opinion than compassion
judgment than understanding
more arrogant answers
than heartfelt questions
so much
fuzzy memory
for how we've wrangled
with our past
in ways that weren't great
coulda been healthier
but we did what we could
with the emotional wherewithal
we had
and to someone who was watching us
it wasn't good enough
wasn't right  enough
yet here we are
spying and scrutinizing
people's sagas
all perfected and accomplished
in the art of dragon-slaying

Got hella PhDs
in the suffering of others
but truth be told
some of us still don't have
a degree of comprehension
about how to master
our own

©2015 Charlene E. Green  

Thursday, October 15, 2015


When your throat tightens
slams shut
like a malfunctioned revolving door
and your undeclared thoughts
are highjacked
by your voicebox
with quicksand might
shackled by its cords
held for ransom
by your fears

that will be the moment
when you'll successfully redefine
the term
"eating your words"

Because you believed
the box of courage
within you would fail
unconvinced of its stability
its ability
to bear the size of your truth
keep your sentiments
packed in the right order

because you imagined
the contents shifting
on the way out of your mouth
arriving jumbled
feared that upon receipt
you'd be misunderstood
returned "unappreciated"
rejected ...
now your message
has retracted
a caged bird
writhing beneath your tongue
and if you don't
find a way
to unhinge the door
deliver that ransom
let that bird sing
with no remorse
like it matters
like you deserve to be heard 
even if they don't like it
even if it tremors their comfort zone

if you don't prioritize

your emotions
will ravage you
take your innards hostage
terrorize you
with artillery and threats like 
psychological bedlam
systemic outcry 
inexplicable physical maladies
doctors won't be able to
will say it's stress related
"all in your head"

and they'll be right
it is in your head
where you left it
an army of fuse bombs
weapons of mass internal destruction
positioned to implode

©2015 Charlene E. Green

For more information on this important subject, please see Dangers of Holding in Your Emotions


Thursday, October 8, 2015



like excess mental weight
the pounds
of their cruelty
the way they glare
and you silently agree

from people
not wearin' your skin
but callin' foul
for the way you
look in it
carry it
behave in it

like dank clothes
the rubble
from your storms of persecution
the ominous pond
of disapproval
puddled at your feet

like burdensome debt
your subscriptions
to fear
of your life
your body

the you
you adopted
and grew
fed lies to
based on their view
their spew
the you 
you scorn
cuz you think
what they shout
is gospel
and now what you are
is pawn
lurching to their slanderous cadence
not champion
of your magnitude

how your arms
flit erratically
legs jerk
how you
beat and kick yourself to shame
with their commentary
parrot the script they write for you
to their delight

this isn't really  the role
you intend to keep playing
in your movie
is it?
you're the star
so get busy
start a health-phrase diet
double portions 
for your emaciated
gorge on them
get fat
on a superior assessment
of yourself
feast unapologetically
on mouthfuls
of your own delicious story
of a you
you look at proudly
smile at
celebrate and respect
can't get enough of
flaws and all
and say
"Damn, it's great to be me!"

then toss up
the middle-finger deuces
and shed
all the whole and partial
fucks you give
about the people
whose only desire
was to make sure
you never
gave a single fuck
about yourself

©2015 Charlene E. Green


Monday, June 15, 2015


Hey, all,

Just a little reminder that my spoken-word CD, She Is Poetry, is always available for purchase. Currently, it's only available for download. You can order right here for $10.00, and you'll receive the download link. *If you have an iPhone, you'll need to download to a computer first. Apple only allows downloads on their phones through iTunes.* 

Enjoy the smooth and funky grooves of the incomparable Ricardo Love over the eclectic lyrics of Charlene "Hustle Diva" Green. Ricardo's versatile beats and melodies are the perfect complement to Charlene's moving poetic tales—like milk 'n' cookies. This one-of-a-kind collaboration will take you on an entertaining and spiritual journey that you'll want to experience over and over again.

Here's Misinformed (If the Shoe Fits), one of the most popular tracks off the album. Enjoy!

For more of my products, please visit Hustle Diva Speaks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Spending extended time with my family this past month and a half has allowed me to learn more about my family history. In my poem "Homage," I talk about getting my gift and love for words and my teaching ability "from my mama"; she's been teaching since before I was born. But I learned that the gene is even deeper than that. My grandmother, Cleo Handy Simpson, and her sister Jennie both had teaching degrees (Jennie's was to teach English), but back then, their degrees weren't recognized/accepted here in California (they were from Georgia), so they both ended up doing jobs totally unrelated to their true passions. 

Knowing this crucial piece of my history gave me such a sense of pride, and it also made me that much more determined to succeed on an even higher level in all that I do, in honor of my grandmother and her sister and their thwarted efforts to pursue their desired careers in the educational realm. 

My mother picked up where they left off, and I'm determined to continue carrying out the dream and tradition in my own unique way, and leave an unmistakable mark in this world that will make up for all that my ancestors weren't allowed to do.

What great information is hidden in your family history that's tied to your passions, talents, and special gifts? When you discover your gift(s), will you be brave enough to share them with the world?

I invite you to listen to the poem below:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hustle Diva at the L.A. Times Festival of Books

Here's the video of my performance at the 2015 L.A. Times Festival of Books, April 19, as their Inspire Us poetry contest winner. Thanks to all who came out to support me! It was a huge feat, and with the special circumstances I was dealing with (see video for details), it was even more important that I not only be there, but also give a top-notch performance. Enjoy!

Featured Performance at L.A. Times Festival of Books

Tuesday, March 24, 2015



Woman, love self like
none can match yours, and watch as
folks try to rival

How often do you really "do you"? When's the last time you said no when that's what you meant; put make-up on—or not—because you wanted to, not to please someone else; dressed or wore your hair the way you prefer, not how your spouse or lover prefers; gave your body the rest it needs; took yourself on your ideal date; did nothing but what you wanted all day, for one day? When's the last time you asked yourself what you need or want, and thought about providing it for yourself? Have you ever asked?

As queens of sacrifice, particularly mothers, you're wired to nurture others first; but it's healthy to seek ways to provide for others in conjunction with nurturing yourself.  Some may take issue with this, possibly people you know and love. When you've evolved, only those who are a match to your level of evolution can function properly in your space. The rest will tend to keep their distance because they don't know how. You'll receive what you know you're worth. If people can't meet the terms of your upgraded mindset, then they'll either drop completely off, or they'll only interact with you in ways they feel comfortable. It may hurt, but let it be okay. Maybe they'll catch up one day, maybe not. In the meantime, you've made room for the kinds of visitors that'll go out of their way to match your requirements. You deserve that.

I lovingly challenge you to make it your daily goal to give yourself as much of what you need for your peace of mind as possible; all things such as children, family, and jobs considered, where some level of compromise may be necessary. The mere commitment to consider your needs daily is the shift of energy needed to make way for your fulfillment. Every effort to "get yours" counts. If you're never or hardly ever attempting to live your ideal life, then you'll always be waiting for others to provide love, attentiveness, and approval for you.

Life isn't meant to be a waiting game. Wait for no one to love you properly. Figure out how to love yourself the way you want, on your time, your terms. You'll be amazed at how people will be willing to match the respect you have for yourself. You'll be so content with what you give yourself that you won't have time for or interest in worrying about who else is or isn't on board with loving you right.

Ladies, I challenge you to find the courage to live just for you, whenever possible. I encourage you to start a competition with yourself—to experiment with how much you can increase your own self-love and self-esteem each day. Have fun with your self-care; plan it; commit to it; deepen it. Be excited every day to wake up to the privilege of being in your own company. Be so adamant about your well-being that you absolutely refuse to allow into your life those who aren't bringing your caliber of love to the table. Set the standard. Raise the bar high. Be choosy. Choose you. I dare you to make these bold moves. Then, I dare you to feel great about yourselves and love the subsequent results.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


This post is now available at


If you're writing to publish, or for school, then this compact guide is a must-have. You'll come away with a much greater understanding of why it's important to have your work edited by a professional (not your friend, family member, or teacher, unless this is their craft), what that process entails for you and the editor, and what you should do to prepare to search for one. Editing, in all its forms, is a huge "thing," and it's not for the fainthearted. Come learn why.  Click on photo to order.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


As a mainstream and self-published author who has also been working as a professional editor and literary consultant for the past ten years, I have learned so much about the industry, and even more valuable lessons (some the hard way!) on this awesome journey. The most important info and lesson combined that I've carried with me since the early days is this: just like buying and maintaining a home and car are huge, usually life-long responsibilities, so is publishing—particularly self-publishing. Now that I've had the fortune to be fully immersed in what's on both sides of the fence, I can truly say that my respect, admiration, and understanding for the craft and its process has increased immensely.

My biggest "hard way" lesson was back in 2007, when I was finally able to self-publish my first novel (through a small independent publisher), One Man's Treasure. I was about two years into my editing career, and I had started my editing business the year before. I was so anxious and excited to become a published author that I admit I didn't do the necessary research beforehand about what self-publishing truly meant. Because I had interned for a publisher in 2005, I thought I had a good handle on the ins and outs of the process. And I did, for the most part. But what I wasn't privy to during my interning days were the potential financial challenges that being a published author could (and for me, would) carry. Here's where [this part of] the responsibility of being an author was first introduced to me.

Since I was so "ready" to get the book out there, and I didn't have the cash to use for my publishing venture, I used my brand-new business credit card with a $9,000 balance on it. Just the publishing process alone cost me nearly $5,000, which was a bit of a shock, at first. But when I looked over the fee breakdown of the services and I understood where the money was going, I couldn't really say much else except, "Welp, let's do it."

Because I was already working as an editor and I was well versed in the craft, I skipped having the book copy edited by someone else because I knew I could do it myself. The copy editing on my part wasn't the major mistake I made. I actually made two in the process. First, because I was in a hurry to go to print, and I was trying to stay on the timeline we were working with, I read my manuscript repeatedly—back to back, with no breaks—for three weeks. Bad move. You should never read anything repeatedly if you're checking for errors, particularly a 300-page manuscript, without giving your eyes, mind, and body a break. Mind you, I had already read the thing a zillion times prior to the publishing process, so I was at a big disadvantage because I knew exactly what the book said, basically word for word; so even the typos looked like they belonged there. I was so familiar with the book's content that my mind and eyes weren't capable of catching everything that needed to be corrected, not to mention that I was absolutely exhausted.

So, when the book came out, guess what I saw? Yep, TYPOS. Not that many, and nothing really glaring, but because I had read it so many times and made so many changes and corrections, I wasn't expecting to see any. I just knew I had caught everything. Let me tell you, I was completely destroyed emotionally! I cried for weeks behind the fact that I had not only failed at the flawless editing of my own work, but I had also now released the work and everyone would see these mistakes. I was so embarrassed and ashamed, but it was too late; the book was out, so I had to suck it up and deal with it.

Fortunately, there were no complaints since the book wasn't overrun with errors, but that's not the point. I wasn't happy with that snafu, and that's when I learned that my second mistake was that I didn't pay to have it proofed. That's all it needed, but I didn't do it because I was trying to cut corners and save money, out of fear—fear that adding any more expenses to the process was gonna wipe me out financially. Sadly, some of the mistakes happened during my content editing, when I was revising sentences and switching out words, and I had failed to double and triple check the new content, so there were instances such as words being left out or inadvertently left there during the process. The worst part about it was that two of my professional-editor colleagues, both of whom I had worked with on several projects, were right there and available to do it, and I still refused. (By the way, I didn't make that mistake with the second novel; I had one of them proof it for me!)

Once I had dealt with that drama, another financial lesson came sashaying into the picture. As a self-published author, I wasn't aware that I would be responsible for making sure that my book stayed stocked in bookstores that agreed to sell it. I was naive enough to think that bookstores would be ordering it on their own to put on their shelves, and then I would just kick back and rake in the dough. I soon found out that I would need to shell out more money, and regularly, too, if I wanted to have my books in stores! Not to mention that I'd need to have money to keep books in stock for myself, to sell independently (you know, trunk-of-car, book-festival, and street-corner style). FYI, ordering just 50 books cost nearly $400.

I wasn't thinking about any of these things, so I was totally unprepared for them. I was heartbroken by these rude awakenings that self-publishing threw my way. The only thing I was concerned with was getting the book published. Period. With all of the financial obligations on my plate, my credit card was soon maxed out, and I was sorely disappointed that I didn't do my homework prior to diving into the deep end of publishing.

But I lived and learned, and now I'm here to say this:

Prospective (and current) authors, in the same way you need to be prepared for the financial responsibility of buying and maintaining that home or car, you need to be financially prepared for publishing. If you're new to writing and/or publishing, or if you're working on a type of project that's new for you, then you may need creative guidance before you begin your work, or if you're stuck in the process, so you can have a clear view of your literary journey and be able to move through it with ease. Be prepared to pay a literary consultant to aid you. It's not an unnecessary expense. If you were sure of how to proceed, then you'd have done so already, with confidence.

On top of having your money ready for all that comes after your book is out, I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to take care of business properly before that, and have your work professionally edited prior to publishing; this includes content editing. Content editing is set up to ensure that you put the best material in your book, and that the messages you want to convey are all there and are as clear and concise as possible. Both copy editing and content editing are vital steps that should not be skipped if you want to put out a quality product. In fact, if you get a book deal with a mainstream publisher, you can't skip these processes; they're mandatory. To clarify, I don't mean you do them yourself, as someone who is not a professional editor, or that you have someone who isn't versed in the editing craft do it. You see the issues I had with copy editing and proofreading, and I was the professional, albeit a new one.

That said, I'm imploring all of you to seek out someone who specializes in this craft. I know publishing is an exciting endeavor and you can't wait to see your work in print, to have people buying it, praising it (and you), giving it five stars, etc., but if you're finished writing your book and you haven't had it professionally edited, then you're not ready to go to print. Respect your craft and product, and respect your future potential readers' time and money by investing in a high-quality editing service. When people put enough faith in you to support your work by giving you their money and time [to read it], they deserve to receive your best. It should show that you cared enough to give them the quality they expect.

 Also, publishing work riddled with spelling, punctuation, grammar, and even formatting errors (yes, that needs to be in good shape, too) is not only insulting to people's intelligence and a huge distraction, but it also makes you look extremely unprofessional and selfish to those who truly understand the importance of publishing the right way, and your reputation will be at stake. I say selfish because when you publish any work, it's no longer just for you; it's now for the world. Again, your work should show that you cared enough about your audience to make sure things are done as correctly as possible. If you don't make that effort, then I don't believe you're publishing to gratify others, only yourself. Yes, your family and friends will likely eat your product up, no matter what it looks like, because they're so proud of and excited for you; but others won't take you seriously in this field. 

Please stop being in such a hurry to call yourselves published authors that you skip steps in the process. If you're going to publish, then it's highly advised that you do it right from all angles. Cutting corners to save money, not wanting to pay editors what they charge for their time and hard work, and rushing to put out a book because people are waiting for it, or because you can't wait to be published in general, are not signs of respecting the writing and publishing crafts or taking them seriously. 

Also, all of your work deserves the full publishing process, not just the ones you feel are more worthy of it. The same care and effort should go into publishing a small project that it should when publishing something large. Just because your project is 10 pages doesn't mean you should skimp on your commitment to putting out your best work. A poorly presented 10 pages can ruin your credibility just as much as a poorly presented 300 pages.

Lastly, I know we're now in the age of Kindle and Nook, and many of you may not offer hardback or paperback books, so in that regard you'll be escaping some of the financial burdens of publishing by not having to order physical copies. But your digital works deserve the same pride and attention as physical ones.

Later, I'll blog about some other responsibilities that come with publishing. For now, I truly hope this post has helped you understand how important this subject is. Please pass this along to all of your writer/author friends, family, and acquaintances. Please be sure to backtrack on all of the informational links I inserted in the post if you haven't had a chance to check them out.

Thanks for reading, and happy publishing!

Sunday, February 1, 2015


2015 marks ten years that I've been working in the publishing industry professionally. Time has FLOWN! This year also marks the ten-year anniversary of my first editing gig: co-editing Dr. Dre's mother's autobiography, Privileged to Live: A Mother's Story of Survival, with my colleague who lives in Texas.

When I first started out, I was interning at Milligan Books, in Los Angeles, for the wonderful Dr. Rosie Milligan, as a writer, editor, proofreader, and overall publishing assistant. We met in 2003, when I took my just-completed manuscript for my first novel, One Man's Treasure, to her in hopes that she would be my literary agent. She took me on as a client, and from there our relationship blossomed. I spent a lot of time at her store as we shopped my book to mainstream publishing houses, and I soon discovered that I was extremely interested in the editing and publishing process. I started asking her if I could come work for her, but she wouldn't let me at first. In fact, it wasn't until 2005 that she finally realized I was serious (since I pestered her about it regularly), and allowed me to come on board as an intern. Later, she told me she didn't hire me in the beginning because on top of not thinking I was serious, she'd had other interns who didn't last long because they all realized working in the publishing industry is way more work and requires a certain depth of skill and commitment that they weren't up for. But I was.

Shortly thereafter, she started telling me about this really big project she was about to secure, and that she might have me "do some work" on it. It turned out that it was Verna Griffin, Dre's mother, who was coming out with her first book, and Milligan Books would be the publisher. It would be my first full hands-on project, and not only was I honored to be tasked with co-editing, but I also got to write the back-cover summary, interview Verna over the phone so I could write the About the Author; and in June, I was able to attend the book signing, where I was in charge of book sales, and I got to meet and talk with Verna, Dr. Dre, Meagan Good (who all signed my copy of the book), and a host of other great people. It was a fabulous event, and I felt so "privileged" to be part of it all.

In 2006, I started my own literary business after spending 13 months working with Rosie, and also after having interned for several months with the fabulous author, editor, and literary agent Dr. Maxine Thompson as a copy editor, proofreader, and content editor (critiquing). Those were some great times, and I'm so appreciative to both of them for all they allowed me to do with and learn from them.

Here's to many more decades doing what I love: working with words! Check out the pics of my first editing gig!

For more information about my literary business, please visit Charlene E. Green's Literary Services