Review: I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice

final-cover-palmerI Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice, Keke Palmer, Author North Star Way  $14.98 ISBN-10: 1501145398 

Singer, actress, talk show host, humanitarian, and now author, Lauren “Keke” Palmer has gone from writing in journals to writing her youth empowerment book, I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice, a passion-project that has been in the making for three years. After first announcing the book at the end of last March, of course fans were excited and intrigued, but there was also judgment about whether or not it was too soon for the young star to be penning her own life story (which in itself is odd because what gives anyone the right to tell someone he/she cannot write his/her own story?)

Furthermore, as someone who’s been in show business from when she was a child to a now 23-year-old woman, one is sure that Palmer would have plenty to say. And she does, and after reading I Don’t Belong to You, it becomes abundantly clear that so much of what the Scream Queens star says needs to be heard—regardless of if you’re an aspiring entertainer, doctor, writer, etc.

Inside is filled with uplifting memes, quotes, and guides from experts and other celebrities, but the most provoking sentiments come from Palmer, who opens up about everything from her anxiety, heartbreaks, sexual abuse, and depression to therapy, meditation, speaking engagements, and being pro-community. The Illinois native also divulges that as a child, she used to falsely think that her parents were using her; and when her Nickelodeon series True Jackson got cancelled, she felt guilty and anguished about not being able to support her family the way she was accustomed.

Another recurring theme of pain is the one the music industry inflicted on her, classic tale of label versus artist, with a really in-depth perspective.

On a more lighthearted note, readers get to learn other interesting things about Palmer’s career, such as the fact that her first gig (though she did not advance to its TV airing) was the American Idol 2003 spin-off, American Juniors and that it was ultimately her singing abilities that helped land her a role in her first film, Barbershop 2: Back in Business. Also, Palmer shares that entrepreneur, filmmaker, and actor Tyler Perry recommended the Madea’s Family Reunion star to his dermatologist and paid the tab—a secret Palmer has kept until now!

When it comes to improvements and/or suggestions for I Don’t Belong to You, there is repetition at times that should be eliminated. Although I understand why she might not want to expose too much, I think Palmer should be a little more specific when it comes to her account of her father’s alcoholic verbal abuse—I only advise this because there are probably many young people who can relate because they have experienced something similar; this information makes the book more relatable and poignant.

Palmer is accomplished yet still young in her career, with many more projects and lessons to learn ahead, which makes her all the more a perfect person to write this book. Most public figures wait until years later to reveal personal struggles and turmoil, but Palmer has chosen to recount her journey while she is still very “relevant” as they say, in her career. Sure, she isn’t the first famous person to write a memoir and/or guide book, but as a reader, one can feel that what probably motivated Palmer to open up so candidly is not just about a testimony, but using her story to reach others. To remind people that her being a celebrity does not make her any less human, no better, or no less than you, me, or the next person.

We live in such a time now where people assume that those with popularity and riches should have nothing to complain about regardless of what they might be going through. Palmer is unembarrassed to admit that there have been times where she wasn’t getting any opportunities in her field of work, there were absolute crickets, which is why she firmly believes in one creating his/her opportunities instead of just waiting around.

I want to thank Palmer for making this gift of a book and for choosing me alongside hundreds of others in the #IDBTYSquad Facebook book launch group to receive the ARC, and thanks are also extended to Lacy Lynch, Palmer’s book agent, and Daniel Decker, who ran the book launch. I Don’t Belong to You is available for pre-Order now and purchase Tuesday, January 31.

Interview With Tamara McNeil of Just Like Me! Box

meet the mcneils.png.JPGToday we had the pleasure of talking to Tamara McNeil, the founder of Just Like Me! Box, a monthly subscription that delivers 2-3 books in urban children’s literature to families. Get to know Tamara, the inspiration behind her company, the types of books she delivers and looks for in submissions, as well as why she is reluctant to expand her market to young adult fiction.

https://soundcloud.com/jewel-be/just-like-me-box-interview-with-tamara-mcneil

For more information on Just Like Me! Box, visit http://www.justlikemebox.com

Interview with Brent Lambert of Fiyah Lit Magazine!

On Monday, we had the pleasure of interviewing the acquiring editor and social media manager of Fiyah Lit Magazine, a new publication that publishes black speculative fiction. Check out the interview below to hear how the magazine got started, why Brent and his team focus on black literary fiction, inspiring words, and more!

https://soundcloud.com/jewel-be/interview-with-brent-lambert-of-fiyah-lit-magazine

For more information on Fiyah Lit Magazine, visit http://www.fiyahlitmag.com

Highlights of An Evening With Editor Chris Jackson!

Publishing professionals of various ages gathered at New York City’s Solas Bar Thursday night for an evening with longstanding book editor, Chris Jackson. Latinx in Publishing and POC & Natives in Publishing teamed up and hosted the forum, kicking off each group’s first event of the New Year.

Jackson is known for successfully producing both non-fiction and fiction and working with everyone from Bryan Stevenson and Russell Simmons to Jay Z and more recently, The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah. Noah’s debut memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, released this past late November, topped the New York Times Bestsellers list. This is nothing new for Jackson, who has more than 10 bestsellers to his name.

As for what’s next,  the Random House executive editor has been developing his own imprint for the publishing house, called One World, due this fall. Prominent Washington lawyer Eric Holder and rapper and civil activist Killer Mike are among the list of authors on the upcoming imprint.

When listening to Mr. Jackson, it becomes very clear that he is about letting marginalized voices be represented and has a wealth of wisdom on the book world. Here are eight of the highlights of the discussion Jackson had with Antonio Gonzalez (Senior Marketing Manager, Scholastic) and Steering Committee Member of Latinx in Publishing.

On the importance of diverse voices: “There are publishers all over town, who, after the election, were like ‘what have we done wrong by allowing this to happen, allowing all these other voices to suddenly assert themselves? We somehow have to retrench.’ They didn’t put it in this language, but that’s definitely some of the spirit that I think was going around.”

On the time he was ashamed of working in an imprint: “Ann Coulter was added to the list of titles for a conservative forum of the imprint, and when I would introduce myself to people, I’d say I was ashamed of the imprint I worked in. It got back to her that I was saying this and she called the president of the company and said, “Does he know how his salary gets paid?”

On another thing he is ashamed of: “One of my greatest shames is that I once published almost no women, at a previous imprint I worked at. It haunts me all the time.

On the mistakes he sees young publishing professionals make: “There is an impulse towards conformity. So many editors that I’ve came up with fell into that crumb-snatching competition because they’re all thinking the same way or trying to think the same way. The real power you have is not thinking like everyone else, even though it can be difficult at times, maybe alienating at times, and lonely at times.”

On writers: “Writers are complete narcissists. They want someone who cares about their work like they care about it.”

On advice he has for young book professionals: “It sounds cheesy, but it’s important to know how to give an elevator pitch.” He adds, “I am trying to encourage other editors who are working with me to not spend all of our weekends and evenings editing. When I got into book publishing, I was told ‘you’re gonna have to edit on the weekends.’ That works for a while, but then, let’s say you have a child, and you have a life. You should have a life if you’re going to be a good person or editor. You have to have other things that interest you.”

On the industry:  “The industry, who cares? It’s the writers you really want to spend time with because it’s the art and stories that matter.”

More on the industry and advice: “Be patient and resilient. It is a slow-moving industry, in some ways by necessity. This is a really important lesson about publishing: most books don’t work. But in your mind, as an editor, if a book doesn’t work, you can let it haunt you and start to weaken you. So many books are not going to work and that’s the game, but I’m not going to let it shake my confidence.”

For more information about Latinx in Publishing, check out their website http://www.latinosinpublishing.tumblr.com/ and contact Patrice Caldwell about POC & Natives in Publishing on Twitter at @whimsicallyours. To see a full list of Jackson’s titles, you can visit his tumbr http://www.cjaxone.tumblr.com/