Tag Archives: Chicago

Book And Music News

 Hello and welcome back to Clara54 Writers Blog!

When you’ve been in this writing business for a long time, you tend to get perks from folks who can appreciate your expertise, talents, connections (whether perceived or real) and most of all, your integrity. Folks will want to know you for your authenticity, moral and ethical compass.

I’m always grateful and oftentimes humbled when stellar companies send free books/stuff for me to review and oftentimes, direct contact info to authors, musicians, medical experts and others for personal interviews.

I’ve shared how my time management skills aren’t the best and so I pick and choose which projects I endorse or promote in my professional space. Doing book reviews are time consuming, so I’ve taken a hiatus from doing them.

This came from Chris over at Miles High Production:

Hi Clara!
Clara, Thanks for checking out our newsletter. Would you be interested in reviewing ‘Up From Where We’ve Come’? Currently we have a digital edition available as a .pdf or an .pub. Limited physical copies of the book will also be available soon. Let me know if you would prefer a physical copy to review. I understand that you probably receive a great many review requests and you aren’t able to get to every book, so if you can’t get to ‘Up From Where We’ve Come’ I understand. However, if you’d be interested in posting the following press release, please let me know!
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts if you’d be interested in spreading the word on this special story!

I declined the book review, although I do plan to read it and perhaps review at a later date. Here’s a book blurb and a bit about the author/musician, Mr. Charles Wright, along with an added video of “Looking For An Ugly Woman.” Enjoy!

Do you remember the 70s hit song “Express Yourself” by Charles Wright? I want to let you know that the legendary soul singer is releasing an autobiography ‘Up From Where We’ve Come’ out October 26th!


Writer of hit song “Express Yourself” and band leader of the Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band, soul music great Charles Wright is set to release his highly anticipated autobiography which chronicles his tumultuous, life changing upbringing in 1940’s southern Mississippi.
Charles Wright is a world-renowned musician and songwriter best known as the leader of the ’60s-founded Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band and for recording the enduring 1971 classic “Express Yourself” (#3 R&B, #12 Pop – Billboard). The ensemble also recorded the classics “Loveland ” (sung by drummer James Gadson who became an ace session musician in Los Angeles), “Do Your Thing ” (featuring lead guitarist Al McKay who went on to become a star member of Earth Wind & Fire) and the racial equality anthem “Comment” (also recorded by jazz legend Les McCann, alternative rockers Wilco and others).


‘Up From Where We’ve Come’ touches on first hand accounts of racism is an honest depiction of how the now world-renowned musician went from poverty to prosperity. Written in the raw dialects and rhythms of how Blacks and Whites communicated with each other in the era, it is a riveting insider’s glimpse into the realities of the times.
“Some may consider these chapters a vital part of American history which has yet to be told in this particular fashion. “
I wanted to reveal just how thin the line between sharecropping and slavery really was. It’s important to me because I spent a significant part of my life under that regime. I started writing this book 40 years ago. It’s something – given the right circumstance – I wish I could have shared long ago…But now is the optimal time because discrimination never went away. Racism simply vaulted to a whole ’nother level. Honestly, in some cases, I’d take the way it used to be over what it is today. The process of systematic racial elimination is extremely ugly to me. I can see it so clearly. I need others to see it, too. So I’m expressing myself.”
– Charles Wright

I loved Express Yourself and Mr. Wright’s other songs! Now I can put a Face to those ‘oldies’…Y’all got memories too? This book appears to be a great source on race/racism in the South, as one famous musician lived it.

Introducing Chicago Author and Journalist, Karen Ford


“Thank you for your assistance in helping writers reach an audience and for your willingness to introduce me to your audience. ”  k

Happy Mother’s Day come Sunday to all moms of the world! In response to sentiments from my guest author today, I found the greatest authentic quote on my LinkedIn page:

“You don’t need a reason to help people.”  Zora Neale Hurston.  Come get acquainted with Chicago author and journalist, Karen Ford as she provides insights from her  book, Thoughts of a Fried Chicken Watermelon Woman. Make sure to pick up a copy in support.

Karen Ford

Women of an indiscriminate age are seen as faceless, sexless shapes with almost no value save being wives, mothers, caregivers or comic punch lines. But it’s even worse for Black women. There is no place for us in film or television. (It’s ironic that the only middle-aged Black woman prevalent in film today is actually portrayed by a man.) With the exception of traditional gospel music, we’re not part of the music industry. We’re not broadcast or print reporters or columnists. Other than Maya Angelou, Terry McMillan and Toni Morrison, we’re not widely read. So we remain voiceless.

The other side is that the average Black person in America is voiceless as well. When a subject pertaining to Black people comes up, media people reach out to Dr. Cornell West or Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton. Not to denigrate these gentlemen but they do not speak for me or the millions of Americans like me. We are not a monolithic people and I, for one, take great offense at being treated as such.

When a tornado strikes a small town or when someone shoots up a school, reporters talk to the victims. They speak with the people involved. They don’t call their stock individuals who speak for the White folks involved. Why should it be any different for Black people?


Karen Ford is the author of Thoughts of a Fried Chicken Watermelon Woman (Total Recall Press 2014) and the blog, Caviar & Grits (www.caviar&grits.com). Ford serves 3rd Vice President of the National Writers Union, UAW 1981, the only trade union for freelance writers. The union is comprised of over 1400 writers in every genre.As a freelance journalist for over 20 years, Ford has written for a number of local, national and international publications including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Parent magazine, the Citizen Newspapers, Screen Magazine and Lutheran Woman Today. Her corporate clients have included the University of Illinois, the Chicago Labor Education Project, the Illinois Business Development Authority and the Women in Business Yellow Pages. She has written political ad copy for several local and county candidates and co-authored the book Get That Cutie in Commercials.Karen Ford received her BA with a focus in political science and her MS in public service management from DePaul University. She has a certificate in union organizing from the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute and a certificate in teaching community college from the Encore Organization of Harold Washington College. Ford is married with four children and loves to read, dance, cook and travel in her spare time. She lives with her husband in Chicago.


Thoughts of A Fried Chicken Watermelon Woman  is Available on Alibris.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and BooksAMillion.com.

Author Contact info:
Karen Ford




Jumpstart To Your Creative Juices…

Hey Guys! Hope you all are up & about -and ready to go out and make things happen- or stay in and let those fingers ignite your keyboards:) I’m just getting ready to do the same thing, so, these are briefs to what I hope might get your creative juices flowing and plant seeds to jumpstart your morning…

They are casting for HOME COOKS in Chicago! Information to Bobby Flay Food Network:



Who remember the Film SANKOFA? Watch the intro here:



How many of you are familiar with Chicago’s Bronzecomm Newspaper?

Keep abreast of all the Chicago happenings here and sign up for their newsletter:


If you’re interested in writing a Short Story for inclusion in ebook and for part of proceeds after publication? Join or submit a story hereat the Independent Authors Index:


My first story “Technicolor Love” will be published in the first Independent Authors Index Compilation—am working on second short!

What’s on your “CREATIVE” agenda of late?

Monday Appreciation Day!

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Okay, I wanted to take some time out, slow my roll and offer up a bit of appreciation from Clara54 for all of the good vibrations & helping hands that came my way these last weeks. It’s when we’re so busy & bogged down with “stuff” coming at us, from all angles in this Writing Life, that someone will come along, out of the blue, seemingly, to sow some encouraging and helpful seeds our way. Those seeds might come in the form of technical assistance, writing consultations, contributor requests and “thinking of you pictures” from days gone by:) 

Because all of those things came in the form of seeds for Clara54 recently, I am sending out  a Special Monday Appreciation to :

Ronnie- Thanks for thinking of your big sister when you went back home for the Holidays! You know me so well:) The pictures you captured reminds me of our days spent as children running amuck without a care in the world! My, did we ever actually live in the Country?

Thanks to Members of The Blog Zone for wanting to connect with me on LinkedIn & for your advice, blog intros and comments…I truly joined a community of bloggers!

James, you were one of the first to connect via email from The Blog Zone to offer me a contributors position at your beautiful Island In The Pacific Books- book blogger site! Readers & lovers of books will flock to http://islandinthepacificbooks.blogspot.com  for an eclectic reading experience.

 I’m thrilled to be bringing another book up for review here within the next week. I want to send a special thanks to Dusty at StayThirstyPublishing and  to amazon.com for their prompt response & gift book …Dusty led me through the KINDLE Installation for this one & it’s quite a new experience for me to read from a kindle Apps to bring you guys my next book review! Thanks Dusty, you rock! 

I wanted to tell my friend “M” that I’m going to miss her as she moves family to Arizona to start life anew…glad I could make your stay “The best fun you’ve had” since leaving your native India. May you make many more fun memories/friends on your jouneys… 

How many of you have taken time to slow your roll to show a bit of appreciation ?

An Update From Clara54

Memorial Day Flags
Image by eddiecoyote via Flickr

Hi Guys! Just a prelude to what’s coming up for your reading pleasure this Memorial Day Weekend🙂 I know you’re going to just want to chill and enjoy good times with family & friends and believe me, “I feel ya!” however, you might also want to check out an upcoming book review on Monday. Yep, another book review! Marcie Hill, a Chicago journalist, entrepreneur, blogger, live blogger, social media strategist AND a colleague has asked me to review her new ebook, The ABC’s Of Blogging: Blogging Basics From A to Z!

 Marcie Hill is a rare talent in the world of freelance writing and professional blogging. She owns and manages three blogs, one of which have landed her in the top five finalists of The Black Weblog Awards for Best Business Blog. She will also be attending at the Blogging While Brown Conference  hosted in California in July where she is presenting on live blogging ! So this VIP dynamic is a very busy entrepreneur and I’m proud to showcase her ebook here!

Anyhow, this ebook is a no nonsense and sensible read that has something for the newbie blogger as well as the seasoned pro. Come on back after the good food, good friends & fine wine on Monday for The ABCs of Blogging:Blogging Basics From A to Z.. And let’s not forget to honor our troops for all they do and sacrifice for us! 


Another Creative “Fry” Day For Clara54!

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I know, somedays feel like a “fry’ day as opposed to a fierce writing day! But, this morning I’m going to share a brief summary of “whatcha doing clara54?”  for my readers since I’ve been missing in action-sort of. I managed to take a week’s sabbatical from writing  online so that I could concentrate on offline projects…It didn’t work out quite the way I’d envisioned it. You see the laptop kept calling my name and the computer in my reading room, beckoned from afar. I  got up every morning of that week to punch a clock at my day job. Came home (dragged myself, actually) only to open up my computer to read & respond to emails!

Some sabbatical huh? The good news? I again landed on the homepage of Blogher.Com/Life Well Lived. Got paid as contributing writer. Received confirmations and published “authentic stories” from women writers across the State who will be participating in my new self-hosted Authentic Woman Site! I’ve chosen the design colors & domain name … just waiting for the finishing touches. 

Recently, I received a positive response from a local Chicago Magazine on issues pertaining to aging for their Health Watch page. The article is on the ready for the green light from the magazine’s publisher. The interview with Chicago fashion designer Tennille White garnered a huge readership for my blogs and landed on the pages of  New York City Online Today. I was very happy about that. I’m thrilled beyond reason to report that all 3 of my blogs are doing well! It makes this writing stuff worthwhile.  So, as of today, fellow creativies, Clara54 is back in the saddle again. Riding the highs & lows of being a  nurse, freelance writer, celebrity, and book review blogger!

Okay fellow creatives, how’s your “Fry” day and “Whatcha Doing?”

Tennille White Talks Spring Fashion for 2011


Okay, so here’s the deal. I’ve been excited to bring you fashion news from none other than Chicago’s very own  fashionista and designer, Ms. Tennille White. Last year, Tennille made a splash in New York as her designs were cause for audience standing ovations in BET’s Rip The Runway. Tennille White is back for a 2nd consecutive year, showcasing her Spring 2011 collection for the full figured woman, ranging in sizes 8-14.

The designs are described as bolder, brighter and better . Tennille will be joined by designers, Rachel Roy and LaQuan Smith in this year’s extravaganza!  After talking with Tennille for the 3rd time about her designs, this doesn’t really seem like an interview, so, here’s clara54 on the dish with Tennille White!

c54- Hey Tennille, what’s going on? How’s the business going?

Tw-Oh my gosh, we’ve been selling, selling, selling! After the show premiered last year, Clara, the sales have been through the roof. The show re-aired I don’t know how many times. It’s been such a blessings. In a weird way. I mean, I didn’t even know the show re-aired. It’s been such a blessing. It’s been just crazy!

c54- I’m sure. You know I sent you an email asking what the heck was going on~laughter- so are you showing  many new designs for this year’s line?

Tw- Oh, of course! I mean, we’ll be showing our Spring 2011 collection & it is so awesome! So full of bright colors. Every single piece is easy to wear, figure flattering and reflective of your personality. My gosh, the line looks like a bag of skittles. It’s a lot of color working. I mean, yea, Spring is about color anyway, that’s a huge trend and it’s so amazing because I designed all of this stuff early spring of last year. To see the pieces on the stage-the colors are like orange,pink, reds, greens and linen whites-we love our linen which come in a variety of colors.

c54- Sounds awesome. Now you know last year’s Rip The Runway was huge! So, are you just a bit concerned about this year and are you constantly trying to top yourself?

Tw- Oh, I mean, if I was a hit last year? I don’t know what it’s going to be this year because I’m being honest, Clara, I never been this passionate about a line before. I don’t know what it is-I am in awe. Honestly, God has put such a calm-such a energy in my body- where there’s not even a tenth of a 100% of a concern. You know when you top yourself? It’s almost like, what are you going to do next is the concern- not about now,you know what I’m saying?

c54- Yes, definitely. To be clear, I want you to tell my readers where they can find your designs.

Tw- I want everyone to go to my website. We get a lot of people that want like, “Can we fly you?” “We’re gonna have a little party” blah, blah, blah and I love to meet with the customers. I’m so passionate about their thoughts, issues; but, I want people to go to the website at www.TennilleWhiteChicago.com

We’re relaunching the website to coincide with the airing of BET’s Rip The Runway- airing 9pm Monday, March 21st. The line will be available as well. So, I’m hoping that of course, everyone goes and obviously look at the show first.

c54- I know that you mentor young people who want to become fashion designers- any lessons you want to impart?

Tw- You have to really be… when you get people to work with you and work for you, you have to really be on the same page. If their motives are any different than yours, it’s not going to work. I can now tell other people and be able to help someone else, especially younger people. Keeping them from spending and giving all that they have to someone is more valuable than that money could ever be.

I’m grateful that God gave me that experience and I’ve learned from it. “I’m over it. I’ve let go and let God”  (Tennille is talking about a bad experience she had placing her monies & trust with someone she hired as a recommended representative for her fashion line, only to lose lots of money and netted “0” sales- the valuable lesson)

c54- Tennillle White Fashions are seemingly everywhere. Would you ever move your business from Chicago to New York?

Tw- I’d never say what I would never do. I have no intentions, that’s not in my plan. Like if I met some sexy man in New York!  hey, it is what it is! (laughter) but I love my city. My family is here, my business is here.

c54- Thanks for giving me this feature interview Tennille. I know it’s only going to get bigger and better from here.

Tw- I’m claiming it Clara and I have the best feeling about it!

I always enjoy talking with Chicago’s very own Tennille White. Make sure you guys tune in to BET’s Rip The Runway,Monday March 21st at 9pm Est and 10pm Cst on the BET network.

Freelance Writer,The Bears, Green Bay Packers & A Cake Breathing Fire!

Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears footb...
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A fire breathing Bear Cake! Yep, everytime the Bears score a touchdown at Soldier Field this Sunday, the bear cake will breathe chocolate fire…Chicago Bear fans can check this phenomena out at Wicker Park, North where no doubt a lots of folks will be gathering to watch the playoffs between The Chicago Bears & The Green Bay Packers

But,why should I care about football? I mean, really? It never fails to amaze me during football season how co-workers, family and friends plan these all out football parties where it’s all about beer, pizza, big screen tvs and football. Suffice it to say, I’ve turned down a few of these invites because when it comes to sports, if it’s not Venus & Serena playing doubles or a Tiger Woods standing somewhere on the green (only lately became a spectator) I suppose it’s all Greek to me.

I’m a writer, after all, so I suppose there are benefits to being a football fanatic. I could write about the down & dirty behaviours of opposing fans.The cheers, moans and groans when a tackle is fouled, or when a touchdown garnered by a player for, say, Green Bay occurs. I could always quote Chicago Bear’s Coach, Lovie Smith saying in an interview how he’s ” feeling good about their game plan.” To be fair, I’d also report the quarterback for The Green Bay Packers saying “There’s nothing they (Bears) can show us that we haven’t seen and there’s nothing that we (Packers) can show them that they haven’t seen.”

I rest my case… Okay for the sake of diplomacy and because I’m living/working among die hard Bear fans? “Go Bears!” On second thought, maybe I should become a sports writer…

How about you writers out there? You got game?

Clara54’s “Whatcha Doing?!” Series With Marcie Hill

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Watcha Doing?Very interesting question.  One, I’ll be glad to answer.

This year was my year to secure my space in the journalism and blogging worlds.  I think I did it.  I currently edit stories for True Elegance Magazine; I write profile stories for How They Living Ain’t No Joke (I love sharing the stories of others); and I contribute to the Chicago Independent Bulletin newspaper. 

As for blogging, I targeted my blog topics so I would not be all over the place like I was last year.  The Write Design Company’s blog shares information on entrepreneurship, blogging, live blogging, social media and writing.  Readers of my community blog, Shorty: Your Chicago South Side Resource, can find resources and information on culture, education, employment, health and youth programs activities on the South Side of Chicago.

Before the end of 2010, I will be adding author to my name with ABCs of Live Blogging and Blogging 101.

Next year will be my year of great prosperity; this year was preparation.  In addition to more clients and blogging workshops for The Write Design Company, there is a third blogging book in the making as well as a completed draft of a roller skating book.  This is going to require A LOT of research but I expect a good draft by the end of the year.

I plan to present at all of the known blogging conferences as well as some local conferences.  Also, I am going to have a summer multimedia program for young people ages 12-14.

Lastly, I will start submitting query letters for magazines again.  I got discouraged after a couple rejections, but I’m so over it.  I plan to get published in at least five major magazines next year.  I’ll start local, though, to build my portfolio and credibility, but I will be published.

Clara, thank you for allowing me to put my goals in the Universe.  Now, it’s time to get busy!!

Marcie Hill
Journalist – Professional Blogger – Live Blogger

Vote for my Blogging While Brown Conference Submissions
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Live Blogging 101








Book Review: BACKSTABBERS:The Reality of Politics…

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Chicagoans have witnessed more than their share of political upheavals since the jubilant and historic election of our first African American President in 2008, President Barack Obama. Over the course of this last year there has been the very public impeachment and eventual indictment of our former Governor, Rod Blagojevich and recently the announcement from Mayor Richard Daley that he won’t be seeking re-election for a 7th term. These shakeups in a city known for its pizza, football and politics cause a lot of people to wonder about the state of affairs in the “Windy City.”

In his new book, BACKSTABBERS: The Reality Of Politics, Rickey R. Hendon, a Democratic Senator serving the West side of Chicago’s 5th district, opens a door and allows readers access to the reality of this city’s ‘politics.’  While reading the book, it becomes clear that politics is a game meant for winners. One of Senator Hendon’s people working in his campaign camp put it this way;  “Learn how to play chess and then you will understand what the political game is all about.” The book breaks down the how tos of selecting a candidate, obtain valid voters, become a visible force in campaign strategy and essentially deal with the expected competitive low down tactics from an opposing camp’s volunteers, political opponents and friends.

Although Senator Hendon does state instances of backstabbing from some of his most respected allies (so he thought at the time) and name names, he explains that he’s not all about bashing his political foes, friends and co-horts because he is still a political figure and have to work with these same people; His sentiments ? “There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, just permanent interests.” He caustions people interested in running for office how political strategies change, but the science essentially stays the same.

The book offers lessons on politics from the ground up. Senator Hendon has brought his years of being in public office, running political campaigns for others and winning 14 elections to the forefront in BACKSTABBERS. Portions of this book will grab you when you least expect it. Although it seemingly exposes this dog-eat-dog aspect of the political world, it also serves to remind us of how a political campaign when run for all the right reasons and wins; Can become the most fulfilling, yet humbling experience for a candidate.

If you’re seeking advice about political aspirations; how to run a campaign, how to win, or just want to learn about Chicago politics, BACKSTABBERS; The Reality Of Politics is a good place to start . As Senator Hendon states so eloquently in his book: A politician issues a birth certificate when you’re born, a death certificate when you die and every document in between. Everybody is affected by politics, so you may as well get involved.”

Clara54’s review of this book was previously published in the Chicago Independent Bulletin Newspaper.

This review is as relevant today as it was in 2010!