Tag Archives: Michelle Duster

A Progress Report And Book Recommendation

Happy Friday, Wordsmiths! I can’t believe it’s the end of the week already. Seems like I was celebrating another “Born” day, just yesterday.
Oh well, like sand from an hourglass so are the days of our lives. I confess, I’ve wanted to use that quote from the popular soap for the longest time 🙂

I have a bit of news to share with my wonderful readers, along with a book recommendation. First, allow me to take you back to the Summer of 2014 when I shared that my poem, Brown Girl Challenge, had been selected for inclusion in the Michele Obama anthology.

I recently received an email from the authors of the anthology; Rose C. Thevenin, Paula Marie Seniors and Michelle Duster, who is the great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells, by the way. Well,  It’s a green light, people. The authors found a publisher for their book!

The title of the book is “But I Went, I Did Fine” – Michelle Obama: From the Southside to the White House.  How The First Lady Impacted and Inspired African American Women and Girls
I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it! Okay, so…just sayin’ though. 🙂
This is the book I highly recommend for y’all  to put on your 2016 reading list:
 Soldier With A Backpack: Living And Dying Simultaneously, by Linda Diane Wattley, begins with the horrific molestation of a little  girl.  At the age of four, Linda is taken from  the comfort of her bed in the middle of the night. She is carried to her parent’s bed and sexually assaulted by her father. I’m reading this and I’m crying, literally breaking down… I cry for that little girl and for every little boy/girl child who have endured the trauma of sexual abuse .
The author guides us through the dysfunction of a family and the suffering that follows a child whose innocence is taken. She shares informative and enlightening messages on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, affecting those who  are traumatized by sexual abuse and other traumatic experiences, like our military men and women.
 There’s never been enough information about post traumatic stress disorder. As a young nurse in the 80s, I witnessed doctors who were baffled by patients suffering  from PTSD. The cases were rare and treatment questionable at best. Doctors only resolution at the time, seemed to be strong sedation and wrist and ankle restraints. I applaud the insights  the author shares about PTSD in her book.
Go here to visit the author’s website: http://www.lindadianewattley.com/
Go here to purchase a copy for your reading enlightenment: https://www.amazon.com/author/lindadianewattley https://www.facebook.com/Lindadianewattleywww.lindadianewattley.comproduct/B015QP2WEK?ref_=k4w_ss_details_rh


Quote for today:
If you want to change the world pick up your pen and write – Martin Luther King Jr.
Peace, Blessings and Prayers…


5 Benefits of Writer Collaborations

thteamworkHappy Friday, writers and all creatives! I hope you all have a relaxing and stress free weekend. I’m looking forward to a bit of ‘me’ time to reflect upon personal and professional challenges of the last months. I’m also giving thanks for having achieved success in completion of Essence Of Romance, a relationship guide that I signed on to write as co-author with my friend and colleague, Evelyn Cogdell last summer.

The Essence of Romance

I am so excited about the outcome of our book collaboration, that I decided to share five great benefits of doing this project with Evelyn, that will benefit, not only me, but some of you on your solo writing venture.

thcollaboration1. Deciding to accept the offer to work on Essence, actually freed me from the perils of procrastination that I was experiencing with my works in progress.  It’s oftentimes difficult to put those great scenarios in your head onto a blank page. My work was starting to feel forced, but working on the book with Evelyn helped to free my creative juices from captivity.

2. It was good working with another writer with a common goal. In this instance, we shared our personal experiences and expert wisdom’s from 4 decades of dating  and relationship issues that comes from ‘having been there and done that’. There’s discussion on how to recognize red flags…how to going from being bitter from lost relationship, to forming better, lasting, loving and equally yoked relationships.

3. Being a co-writer strengthened my writing technique through positive feedback and helpful critique. Writing with Evelyn also allowed us to recognize our individual strengths and weaknesses and allowed us to mesh our strong points to deliver a better client product.

4. Collaborating on the project was actually fun and I wasn’t intimidated by research and tedious fact checking. The articles in the book are based on fact and statistical data, along with personal stories and experiences that aids women and men by providing food for thought and pro-active steps to  a better relationship outcome.

5. Since Essence of Romance  became available for purchase in January, the author has been making book appearances at local libraries, churches and other offline outlets.  Recently we appeared to talk about the book as guests on the Judah Stallworth’s  blog-talk radio station.

This is what the host said about our book:  “eye had a blast with your book’s energy!  thankh you!” He invited us back on the show.

Here’s the link to our ESSENCE interview.  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dub-wyze-talk/2015/03/03/dub-wyze-talk-with-eve-cogdell-and-clara-freeman

Collaborating with another writer frees you up to regains your writing mojo and also allows you to examine your weaknesses and strengths. It’s also introduces you to a whole new audience.

These are authors who recently co wrote and completed their books.

Evette Collins and Yvonne Randle , The Secret  To Creating Loving Relationships.

Michelle Duster and Trina Sotera, Shifts; An anthology of Women Growth through change.

Have you collaborated on a book? Feel free to share your experiences.

“Always treat yourself special.”



Works of Local Chicago Authors- Black History Month Showcase

th women of blk history

Happy Friday visionaries! What better way to celebrate Black History Month than by introducing my readers (you guys):) to some of Chicago’s very own women authors and History makers in the making? First of all let me also remind everyone that February is also Women History, Chinese New Year and the opening of The Olympic Games! There’s so many worthy and historical causes happening during the month of February and as a woman and African-American, I chose to pay tribute to those past visionaries by sharing works of deserving folks right here in Chicago.

Capture yvonne book

Yvonne Randle and Evette Collins are two charismatic authors who met as members of the Hurston-Hughes Writing Ministry. The two women teamed up to pen their inspirational and self-improvement relationship book, “The Secret to Creating Loving Relationships.” To pick up a copy visit the website at www.24-karatlove.homestead.com


Ms. Marcie Hill is a favorite among the Chicago elite group of writers and authors and is highly regarded in Social Media. Her latest book for writers and bloggers that is touted to become an educational resource for schools, libraries and other businesses, is “62 Blog Posts to Overcome Blogger’s Block”. Visit amazon.com to pick up your Kindle edition http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D9Q1R4A

47-91-home evelyn

Evelyn Cogdell is one of my favorite local authors. She modestly pens Romance Novels that sizzles with a Christian theme of what true love between the sheets really looks likes. A great interviewer, Evelyn latest interview is with Author and Playwright Crystal Rhodes. Read it here: http://voices.yahoo.com/renowned-playwright-succeeds-as-author-12524038.html

No, I don’t have another book at the moment, but while you’re waiting 🙂 you can read my latest poem here -http://voices.yahoo.com/a-matter-perception-12521027.html

Finally and believe me I didn’t realize how many great writers I knew, right here in Chicago! Can you imagine those I don’t? Anyway, up last are four women authors (diversity!) consisting of Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells, Cynthea Liu, Jen Cullerton Johnson and Trina Satira who formed MuseWrite by and for women of change. Their anthology in honor of First Lady Michelle Obama is called First Lady Depiction and due out in mid February. One of my poems, “Brown Girl Challenge” was chosen for inclusion. You can visit their website here-http://www.mldwrites.com/MIchelle_s_Bio.html.

This is a peek into some of what The Windy City has to offer by way of literary contributions. Please support these wonderful authors and feel free to share input on creatives in your city that you feel people really should know.

Enjoy your weekend!

Black History Memoirs…

Hi guys! I’m running on pure adrenalin today because I have quite a boat load of ‘stuff’ to get out. Books & movies for review and posts on freelancewriting/marketing from editor invites that’s nothing short of flattering. Feburary is Black History Month! Lots of things are popping off in honor of those brave folks who’ve paved the way for people like me to live life as another American with rights afforded all Americans in these United States of America! & I’m grateful for their sacrifices.

Michelle Duster, great granddaughter of Ida B. Wells and a recent interview subject here at clara54 and in an article I did for The Chiicago Independent Bulletin, emailed me with updates to her schedule for Black History Month. WVON 1690 Radio will be airing segments of Michelle’s family perspectives on historic figures. The segments called “Black History Memoirs” are sure to be enlightening and informative. She is also scheduled to appear on the Garrard McClandon Show @ CLTV Monday, Feb 8th between 6-6:30 pm-check your local listings, or visit Michelle Duster’s website http://www.midwrites.com for further information.

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Reflectionsfromwomen-On Life’s Turning Points! The book is composed of 52 women( including yours truly) who triumphs over trials & tribulations to emerge whole and victorious…visit http://www.reflectionsfromwomen.com to read excerpts from the book & purchasing info! PS. Thanks John Rigo for thinking of me…promise to visit you /great poetry more often:)

Clara54’s Interview With Michelle Duster-Published In The Chicago Bulletin Newspaper

This is a preliminary interview done with a prolific author & great-granddaughter of Ms. Ida B. Wells. A great writer and journalist in her own right, Ms. Michelle Duster-Enjoy!

It’s no coincidence that Michelle Duster, the award -winning author, and great granddaughter of Ms. Ida B. Wells, channels the passion of this great civil rights activist and journalist of the 1800s into a determination to keep African-American women and their struggle for equality remembered and read. Recently, Ms. Duster gave the Bulletin an insight into what has become her mission as she “turns history into books.”

What led you to write about historic figures like your great -grandmother?

I came of age during the 1970s in a middle-class, two parent household. My Southside neighborhood was filled with people who worked every day and took care of their families and homes. We, as a people, have a wide variety of circumstances and lifestyles, but the images I saw on television and movies didn’t capture my experiences in any meaningful way. Attending a predominately white male college with people who had minimal interaction with people different than themselves helped me understand how the images they saw impacted their assumption about me.

I started my career as a copywriter in advertising because I wanted to make an impact on the images of African Americans. While working in advertising, I began studying film production and was drawn to documentary filmmaking. I wanted to be involved in telling our stories. I moved to New York City and worked on several historically-based documentary films. I also got involved with producing events and concerts that featured African American artists and scholars. I was interested in highlighting the achievements of African Americans.

Through it all, I worked on my own fiction writing because I didn’t see enough of my experience of being middle-class, educated, and professional reflected in books. I thought that trying to reflect my experience would be easier in fiction, but factually-based writing came more naturally to me. I experimented with personal essays and opinion pieces, yet still wasn’t sure how to best get my voice out into the world. When the Ida B. Wells housing community was demolished, it made me concerned that her name and legacy would slowly fade away. I felt a need to make sure that what she contributed to this country wouldn’t be forgotten. I wanted people to remember that she was a woman-not a name of buildings that no longer existed. When trying to figure out how to best help people learn and remember who she was, it occurred to me that since she was a writer, having her speak for herself would be the most impact. I decided to reproduce her writing.

Once I started to read her work in depth, it struck me how a lot of what she wrote about is still quite relevant today. Her story parallels that of our people as a whole. And my story represents a demographic that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. I am drawn to the idea of making sure the contributions of African American women in general are moved to the forefront of our nation’s consciousness. We have contributed so much to this country, yet we’ve received little attention. I want to do what I can to change that.

Do you feel a kinship with your great -grandmother’s legacy?

I admire the bravery that it took for my great-grandmother to face possible death in the name of telling the truth. So many people would have given into fear, but her convictions were stronger than her fear. I think this is incredible! In some ways I share some of her spirit because it’s very difficult for me to keep quiet when something strikes me as unfair or illogical. I feel that someone should say something rather than everyone just following along like lemmings off a cliff.

We know you’ve done a first in a series of writers seminars, Tell our readers more about your projects.

The writing projects that I’m working on include a series of books that will include Ida B. Wells’ writing as well as my own. The second book is scheduled to be released in spring 2010. I’m also working on a book of my own personal essays. Since I completed my first book, Ida In Her Own Words: The timeless writings of Ida B. Wells in 1893 (Benjamin Williams Publishing, 2008) I have met so many people who have expressed interest in telling the story of someone in their family. They’ve asked me advice on how to go about finding documents, or directions on where to start their story. I think everyone’s life is fascinating, and each person’s story is one that reflects society as a whole. So, if people have an interest in writing about something that have meaning to them, I’d love to be able to help give some direction and encouragement. Three other writers (Cynthea Liu, Jen Cullerton Johnson and Trina Sotira) and I have organized a writers seminar to help people who are interested in writing about their own, their family or someone else’s history and don’t know where to start. We hosted a free introductory seminar on Sat. Aug 15th at Barnes and Noble at 1441 W. Webster. The standing-room only crowd was enthusiastic and several people signed up on the spot for the intensive seminar which will be held on Sat. Oct.10 from 1-5pm at Columbia College at 618 S. Michigan, 9th floor.

For more information about the seminar, and to sign up please visit http://www.musewrite.com. The seminars have captured attention from several media outlets as well as schools. We anticipate having more opportunities to help both young students and adults learn how to express themselves and tell stories that are dear to their hearts.

I am also a part of the Ida B. Wells Commemorative Art Committee with a group of professionals who represent several different interests. We’re developing a substantial piece of artwork in Bronzeville that will honor the life and work of Ida B. Wells. In addition, I’m involved with the future Chicago-based National Public Housing Museum where the experiences of those who lived in public housing will be captured in as truthful and authentic way as possible. One of my dreams is to see the birthplace of Ida B. Wells-Holly Springs, Ms- become a popular Black Heritage tour destination. The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum has organized an annual birthday celebration for the past several years and I have worked closely with the director to make the weekend successful. I am building alliances with the political, civic, education and religious leaders of the town to help expand the celebration (held around July 16).

As a way to help future leaders, our family -run, Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation instituted a scholarship for three students who attend Ida’s alma mater, Rust College in Holly Springs, Ms. I have been extremely involved in making the scholarships possible. We awarded the first scholarship in July.

On a scale of 1-10 where would you place the racism-radar of today and the significance of electing a Black president?

During my great-grandmother’s time in the late 1800s our homes and communities were burned down by nightriders and people were dismembered and strung up from trees with no repercussions. Everything was segregated and blatantly unequal from birth until after death, including separate cemeteries. In my opinion, comparatively speaking, what we’re dealing with today is pretty subtle, yet still insidious. It’s so covert that sometimes there are implications that we’re imagining the slights we experience, or we’re accused of being “too sensitive.” We experience things like having cops stop us for “allegedly” not having a tail light not working properly, being followed in stores by salesclerks, having co-workers not invite us to meetings or for drinks after work, or not getting the same level of support from a manager that co-workers receive. Complaints about different treatment can be dismissed with “it’s not about race- maybe you and that person just don’t get along.” But you see the same exclusion happening in most departments in most companies.

I think on a scale of 1-10, compared to the absolute terrorism that was going on in the 1800s, today’s racism-radar would be around a 3, even in my own lifetime I have experienced a decrease in the level of hostility, tension, and suspicion. I think Barack Obama’s election can in some ways impact people’s assumptions about African Americans. Diehard racists might insist on hating us, but they might not automatically think that every African American they see fits only one stereotype. I think we’re getting to the point where it’s not inconceivable to some folks that African Americans are intelligent and can actually be in charge. I feel that the resistance level to accepting an African American in an authority position is lessening…

What would Ida B. Wells think of her great- granddaughter, Michelle Duster – carrying on the struggle?

I’ve been surprised at how enthusiastic people have been considering some of the ideas I’ve proposed. Ida B. Wells garners a huge amount of respect from many circles. I think now that so much time has passed since her death in 1931, people have had time to really realize what she did. She-a single woman, who was born a slave-took on the system of an entire nation. That’s mind boggling. But I guess a spirit within her was greater than the negative forces outside of her. I can only guess that my great-grandmother would be proud that I, like her, refuse to let anyone tell me what I can’t do and have pushed the envelope in many situations…