Interview With Literary Agent, Mollie Glick!

mollie glick photoThe love for writing and business is what Mollie Glick cherishes about being an agent. “You know if you’re gonna be an agent if you love the stories, you love the words, and then you also love the entrepreneurial business-building side,” the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) agent told So Booking Cool. Glick, who has adored books since childhood, started out as a literary scout fresh out of college. While the job served its purpose, she ultimately knew she wanted to work directly with writers. Following her tenure at Crown Publishing (Penguin Random House) as an editor, the Brown University graduate eventually transitioned into agenting.

Subtle Art CoverHer seasoned career has seen the success of Mark Manson‘s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, which is still sitting comfortably in the top two of the New York Times bestsellers list two years later (90 weeks to be exact); former Vice President Joe Biden‘s memoir, Promise Me, Dad; Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood; and Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by ocean scientist, Julie Berwald.

Senator Kamala Harris and Valerie Jarrett, former government official, and New York Times bestselling author Ali Benjamin (The Thing About Jellyfish) are among the forthcoming projects Glick is excited about. Listen to the full interview to learn more about these upcoming books, as well as Glick’s insights about publishing, especially agenting and editing, whether or not publishers or agents make more money, more about Manson, her favorite way to discuss new projects, and juicy tidbits!

Interview With Markette Sheppard, Author of “What is Light?”!

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Emmy award-winning television journalist and entrepreneur Markette Sheppard was inspired to write her first book, What is Light? after becoming a stay-at-home mother for a year to her then newborn son. The book, in which Sheppard describes as a “love letter” to children, soared to number one on Amazon‘s Children’s Sense & Sensation list. Parents of all backgrounds have expressed appreciation for Sheppard’s children’s book. “I think people are fatigued by seeing one type of version of African American people, and so this is something new, something different, and it’s something you can feel good about,” she told So Booking Cool. “No one’s going to feel bad by the end of this book– whatever part they play in the story that is our human family’s history.”

What is Light? is the board book debut from Denene Millner Books (Agate Publishing) and is illustrated by award-winner, Cathy Ann Johnson. Sheppard has nothing but positive things to say about her first publishing experience. Like many debut authors, the former Essence magazine writer researched what entailed writing a book and getting it published. While she didn’t have the connections, she believed in her work. Today she remains in awe over the fact that something she wrote in her notebook is now available to the world. “I’m just so proud that my words are in print. I feel like there’s a lasting legacy in this book that hopefully people will keep and share with their family members for many, many generations to come, like Goodnight Moon.”

WHAT IS LIGHT COVER

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Sheppard, her advice for children’s book authors, including the advice she received from a New York Times bestselling author, her childhood exposure to reading, her next book, and more! For more information, visit Sheppard’s official website.

Review: Renaissance Man: The Lin Manuel Miranda Story, An Unauthorized Biography By Marc Shapiro

marc shapiroRENAISSANCE MAN: THE LIN MANUEL STORY, AN UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, Marc Shapiro. Riverdale Avenue Books, $18.01 (200p) ISBN-13: 978-1626014480
Publication date: May 10, 2018

From the New York Times bestselling author and veteran entertainment journalist, Marc Shapiro, comes his newest biography of a high-profile talent: the self-made Lin Manuel Miranda’s story. Unlike some unauthorized biographies, Renaissance Man is anything but salacious and scandalous. Shapiro doesn’t go for the cheap. He has instead chosen to tell the compelling journey of the Hamilton frontman that will leave readers feeling inspired and motivated. Ever the page-turner and crisply written, this book is just as pleasurable for the celebrity memoir and/or “tea” enthusiast as it is for the go-getter crowd. When absorbing Miranda’s story, the takeaway extends beyond the fact that Miranda was a man who went after his dreams steadfast. The real message here is the level of discipline one should probably have for pursuing and maintaining a passion.

Prior to the groundbreaking success of Hamilton, there was Miranda’s first major theater production, In the Heights, which dealt with cultural themes significant and personal to Miranda, who was bred in a predominately Latino community in Inwood, New York City. Shapiro highlights the tireless work ethic Miranda dedicated to his play as a college student, as well as his determination—there is a moment when Miranda meets with a potential investor who wanted Miranda to trade the loss of a scholarship storyline for one about drugs and/or a teen pregnancy. In short, the investor opted for a stereotypical scenario and showed he didn’t get the heart of the project. Miranda stuck to his guns, and the play eventually soared past his college campus and onto Broadway. Each new opportunity that arose to elevate his work, whether it be in the form of a national tour or any new stage in general, raised the stakes for Miranda; he did not allow the praise to make him comfortable or complacent.

Miranda was introduced to Alexander Hamilton in school for an assignment. And while he possessed a keen interest in literature early on (he’d read to the other kids in daycare, kind of like a teacher, in which he would eventually become) as well as in musicals and hip hop, the Puerto Rican visionary never imagined he would one day create a play in the late president’s honor.

Call it fate, nevertheless, Miranda worked hard for his success. He had talent, recognized his talents, and made the choice to hone them (even if there were on-and-off-again periods and other obstacles he had to overcome). He didn’t ask for handouts and didn’t need to. Shapiro shows how Miranda got to the point where his work spoke and continues to speak for itself.

Rating: Excellent

Rating Scale

Cool: Decent

So Cool: Good

Booking Cool: Excellent

So Booking Cool: Masterpiece

Interview With Curtis Bunn, Essence’s Bestselling Author and Founder of the National Book Club Conference!

19999Curtis Bunn founded the National Book Club Conference (NBCC) so readers could have the opportunity to interact with their favorite authors and/or writers. The idea was conceived after he attended country-wide book club meetings for his debut novel, Baggage Check, which became the first Essence magazine bestseller by a black author, with a black editor and agent, a black cover designer, a black distributor, and a black publisher. The NBCC’s 16th annual Literary Bliss weekend, which celebrates African American literature, will begin August 3rd in Atlanta at the InterContinental hotel.

Alice Walker (The Color Purple, among many), Terry McMillan (Waiting to Exhale, among many), Jenifer Lewis (blackish star and author of her memoir, Mother of Black Hollywood), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage, the Oprah’s book club pick), Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy), and Carl Weber (The Man in 3B) are among the 30 authors of this year’s lineup. While Bunn is glad to have the support of renowned attendees, he is especially excited about the new talent.

“I need the majors, and I love having them because they’re amazing. We need them to attract the readers, but when they come, I always challenge the readers to stretch themselves. Go see someone you’ve never heard of. And almost in every case they’ve done that, they say they’re glad they went there…for me, that’s the mission of the conference, to expose readers to authors they may not have otherwise known about or read.”

Press play to hear how Bunn started the NBCC, his approach to his craft, including how the setting/location in a story is a “character” itself, the developing film adaptations of two of his nine novels, The Old Man in the Club and The Truth is in The Wine, the up-and-coming authors to be featured at Literary Bliss this weekend that he’s excited about, and more! For more information visit Bunn’s official website as well as the official NBCC website.

Interview With D.B. Moffatt, Author of “The Misbirth”!

David Moffatt Headshot (1)For D.B. Moffatt, the author of The Misbirth, the heart of his novel is to transform a negative experience into a positive. “In the case of fate, you’re dealt with a situation that is bad. You can go one of two ways. The first way, in which I ultimately chose, was rationalizing to myself ‘okay, bad circumstance, however, ain’t my fault, but I have to deal with it anyway.’ And I rather deal with a circumstance that ain’t my fault, than deal with a bad circumstance that I created.”

The Misbirth Cover

The Misbirth, based in the 50’s is a fast-paced, hard-hitting story about sixteen-year-old Logan Spence, who is the product of a tumultuous relationship and controversial pairing that dangerously impacts his life. Moffatt’s has plans for his book, published by BeachHouse Books, to become a screenplay. The former freelance film editor says the movie or television adaptation of his book would unknown actors, who would ideally become breakout stars.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about the former real estate agent, the execution of The Misbirth, plotters and pantsers, fast-paced fiction, his advice for authors who are going through a hard time, and more! For more information, stay tuned for the relaunch of his official website.

Interview With Megan Devine, Author of “It’s OK That You’re Not OK”!

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How does one successfully write a book that deals with grief? For psychotherapist and author Megan Devine, the answer is understanding the distinction between early grief and later grief. “There are a lot of great grief books out there that talk about rebuilding your life; that’s a fantastic conversation to have, but not three weeks after your person died…know to which part of life you are speaking, if you are speaking grief,” she told So Booking Cool.

Devine’s critically-acclaimed book It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand, published by Sounds True, specifically focuses on early grief, which can mean the first days, weeks, months, and/or years. As a psychotherapist for nearly 20 years, Devine has worked with everyone from those battling substance addiction to those dealing with abuse, trauma, and grief. But nothing could prepare the seasoned professional for her own personal tragedy: the death of her significant other in 2009.

She founded Refuge in Grief to create a support system for people who are hurting. It is also a platform that teaches grief literacy, like how to best help those who are grieving. The company includes Devine’s longtime course, Writing Your Grief, which boasts thousands of attendees. The program also includes a movement called the Tribe Love Letter campaign, in which people purchase a copy of It’s That You’re Not Ok and slip a small love note inside before leaving the book in a place for anyone to take.

“Refuge in Grief is nothing short of a revolution, and I won’t stop until people really feel supported in their hardest moments,” said Devine.

Listen to the full interview to lean more about Devine, her book and company, her experience with Sounds True, the misconceptions about grief, her thoughts on child grief and anxiety, the “grief diet,” and more! For more information, visit Megan’s website.

Interview With Yahdon Israel, Writer and Creator of Literaryswag!

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Photo by John Midgley

An important goal for Yahdon Israel, the creator of the Literaryswag and Lit Platform movement and book club, is to bring more fans to the art, not more artists. Many writers and other industry-related professionals attend book events, whereas at a Beyoncé concert, most of the attendees are not singers but fans, he noted. “If the only reason you enjoy something is just because you’re doing it, then you’re really limiting your capacity for it to affect other people,” the writing instructor explained to So Booking Cool.

“Most people are never gonna be a writer, and they don’t have to be. The [Literaryswag] book club shows you don’t have to be a writer, have an MFA, nor study literature to have something valuable to say about a book. You just have to be someone with a perspective and that’s more than enough.”

Israel, who is based in New York, started writing seriously, as he puts it, when he was nineteen-years-old. Now at 28, the writing instructor said one of the most important aspects of his classes (in addition to learning from his students) is for his students to be able to put into words what they understand of themselves. He will begin his new nearly sold out (only one seat currently remains) creative nonfiction workshop July 9 at Park Slope. Later this month, the Awards VP of the National Book Critics Circle, will host his next book club meet on Wednesday, July 25 at 7pm at the Brooklyn Circus. The event is open to all.

Listen to the full interview to learn how culture and hip hop frame Literaryswag, why he thinks writers and authors should be more visible, his thoughts on black consumerism when it comes to book buying, how he hopes to build his movement to immerse the current and future generations into the appeal of books, the book release he is highly anticipating, and more! For more information on Israel, visit his official website. 

Interview With Pratima Rao Gluckman, Author of “Nevertheless, She Persisted”!

Pratima-11-full-sizePratima Rao Gluckman knew as a child that she wanted to become an engineer and leader after taking her first programming class and routinely organizing her neighborhood’s cricket games. She didn’t, however, know she would want to write a book. But it was the topic that made her passionate. Gluckman wrote and published Nevertheless, She Persisted: True Stories of Women Leaders in Tech  because she noticed that at women conferences, the audiences were eager to know the journeys of female executives, etc., in technology. She interviewed over twenty women who are directors, senior directors, vice presidents, senior vice presidents, and CEO’s.

While Gluckman’s book is meant to empower women, she assured So Booking Cool that it is not about alienating the men. “It’s not to tell the men ‘it’s our turn.’ It’s not to tell the men ‘we’re taking over the world’ and they need to move to the side.  I am saying innovation is good for businesses; and there are studies that show when you have equality of men and women at the top, companies are 21% more successful. What’s good is to have diversity, and we need to have diversity at the top.”

Listen to full interview to learn more about the other brilliant women profiled in Nevertheless, She Persisted, the publishing process of Gluckman’s book, including some of the challenges she faced, how she planned her book launch, whether she will self-publish or traditionally publish her next book, what she thinks can be done to make more girls interested in engineering, and more! For more information, visit her official website.

Interview With Daniel José Older, Author of the “Shadowshaper” Series, “Dactyl Hill Squad” and More!

daniel jose older photoDaniel José Older penned his first novel in 2009,a manuscript that would be rejected forty times and eventually put on hold as he gained inspiration for creating other stories. This story is Shadowshaper, the YA bestselling series praised by New York Times (“magnificent”); Kirkus Reviews, “a must”; and Publishers Weekly, “exceptional.” And yes, there will be another installment of the thrilling sci-fi fantasy.

Of course So Booking Cool asked Older to give advice to writers who are experiencing what seems like endless rejection, which also prompted an insightful conversation about the different states of rejection, and which of them are useful. “It can feel very circular because you feel like you’re getting nowhere,” the former paramedic said. “But if your focus is really on the craft and becoming a better writer, then the rejections will get you to that goal.”

Even as an accomplished author, Older’s goal remains to improve and write better books. He believes it is critical as a writer to self-reflect, work on the craft, and trust the gut.  “When we’re talking about your gut, what that really means is you understand the beating heart of your story better than anybody else. You may not be able to put it into words…usually the heart of a story is not an elevator pitch; it’s a little more complicated than that; it’s almost poetic and that’s why it takes the whole book to get to it.”

Listen to the full interview to learn about the upcoming projects he’s excited about, including the highly anticipated Dactyl Hill Squad (Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic), his new Skillshare class, the gadget he uses to create his magic, his favorite sci-fi and fantasy works, Octavia E. Butler, and more! Visit his website for more information.

Review: “What Truth Sounds Like” by Michael Eric Dyson

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WHAT TRUTH SOUNDS LIKE: RFK, JAMES BALDWIN, AND OUR UNFINISHED CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE IN AMERICA, Michael Eric Dyson. St. Martin’s Press, $24.99 (294p) ISBN-13: 978-1-250-19941-6
Publication date: June 5, 2018

An Acerbic Truth. A Bold Truth. An Encompassing Truth. An Unsettling Truth. A Disruptive Truth. A Troubling Truth. A Terrible (or Terrifying) Truth. A “Truth” Truth (Ruth).

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson’s latest—just happens to be his greatest (book that is). In what is a defining moment in his authorship and critique about all things “race” in America, Dr. Dyson utilizes the full power of his protruding arsenal of words, incalculable intellect, and asymmetrical compulsion for expressing complexity using simplicity as well as simplicity using complexity to tell an unfiltered, uncomfortable, uncompromising truth: An Acerbic Truth. What Truth Sounds Like: RFK, James Baldwin, and our Unfinished Conversation about Race in America is an alarming but astonishing, disturbing yet defining, and exhausting while exhilarating literary spectacle that uses a meeting between then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and James Baldwin et al (in May of 1963) as a backdrop to contextualize the current racial climate in America.

Dyson “slices and dices” and “fishes and dishes” an inconvenient, almost mean-spirited, occasionally cryptic, bushel of truth with a perfect admixture of edge and eloquence. Politicians, Artists, Activists, Intellectuals, Crackers, and Bad “Niggers” (one of the chapter titles) beware. Dyson dares to spare no one; not friend, or foe, or historic figure, or president. If you are in his analytical or conjectural line of fire, be prepared to be assailed with verbal projectiles. This book is not for the faint of heart.

Dyson lays the groundwork by recounting the events that led to this historic meeting and provides a brief bio of the major players involved (i.e., Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, Lena Horne, Dr. Kenneth Clark, Lorraine Hansberry, and the only surviving “witness” amongst the aforementioned, Harry Belafonte). However, the most compelling figure in attendance was probably the least known, Freedom Rider Jerome Smith, who did not mince words. When Kennedy intimated that Blacks shouldn’t listen to the incendiary “lyrics” of the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X because that could spell trouble, Smith said, “You don’t have no idea what trouble is,” and that’s when the meeting went downhill—or uphill (depending on your perspective) from that point.

In the succeeding chapters, Dyson uses his verbal scalpel to dissect and his barrister-esque elocution to build a case for the final chapter, “Even If: Wakanda. Forever,” which is arguably Dyson’s most powerful utterance ever. I would humbly suggest the reader to begin by reading the final chapter first to enhance the experience and to better appreciate Dyson’s indomitable genius.

At nearly 60 years old, one can sense as Dyson transitions from “old head” to “elder” that What Truth Sounds Like, is a precursor for what will be his greatest works, which will undoubtedly happen post-Trump. But for now, What Truth Sounds Like, is a Wake-up call for the Woke which is why this book is minimally 25 years ahead of its time.

Thus far, we have only “witnessed” Dyson’s intelligence; his wisdom has yet to be realized—and it is as imminent as our mortality. And, as imminent as his reconciliation with his teacher-mentor-friend-brother: Dr. Cornel West. And that’s an Acerbic Truth, Ruth.

Reviewed by Professor Clifford Benton