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

Megan Devine heashot

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.

Review: The Art & Science of Respect: A Memoir by James Prince

JPRINCETHE ART & SCIENCE OF RESPECT: A MEMOIR BY JAMES PRINCE, James Prince. N-The-Water Publishing, $29.99 (296p) ISBN-13: 978-0999837009
Publication date: July 6, 2018

Memoirs can be vain, exhausting, narcissistic treatises that tell you next to nothing about the subject (person); however, that is not the case for the James Prince Memoir, The Art & Science of Respect. If you read between the lines, Prince probably gives up too much information—almost to the point of incriminating himself. Written in a conversational style, it’s as if you’re having a conversation with the former street hustler turned music mogul, boxing manager, and entrepreneur.

And he doesn’t hesitate to name drop. So, you’ll hear him provide intimate anecdotes involving Drake, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Baby & Lil Wayne (Cash Money), The Geto Boys, Sir Mixalot, Suge Knight, Master P, Biggie, Mike Tyson, Roy Jones, Andre Ward, Don King, Lou DiBella, Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, Irv Gotti, et al.

Prince doesn’t make it a point to bash or embarrass, but he has had some “uncomfortable” moments with some of the aforementioned. Sometimes, the “disagreements” were handled amicably—and sometimes not.

Prince has more than his fair share of personal baggage as a child of Houston’s notorious Fifth Ward, and he dishes dirt on himself. By no means does he portray himself as some saint. Prince was in the streets, and he earned every bit of his reputation. His riches came with a price: death or the penitentiary. He knew it, and he got out of one game and into another. Prince used his street hustle smarts to make it big in the music industry, and then spun off into other industries.

Here is an example of his transition: “All of my life, I thought the only way to make money off grass was by selling weed—until I started selling hay.” The former illegal “grass” seller became a legal “grass seller”—and I don’t mean medical marijuana. He purchased several acres of land and made money selling hay. Exhibit A of his brilliance.

At the root of Prince’s success is—believe it or not—his spirituality. He has always incorporated it in his thinking, even during his “street” life days. Prince also has an insatiable appetite for success, a maniacal work ethic, and a keen ability to see people for who they truly are (a.k.a., a B.S. Detector). Arguably, his best attribute is his generosity, whether he is providing the “homies” with opportunities to make legal money, buying homes for family members and friends, or building a community center.

The Art & Science of Respect is a quick read that is touching, educational, and inspirational.

Rating: Booking Cool

Rating Scale

Cool: Decent

So Cool: Good

Booking Cool: Excellent

So Booking Cool: Masterpiece

Interview With Allen Maldonado and Kellon Akeem About Their New Film “A Father’s Love”!

 

So Booking Cool recently had the pleasure of discussing storytelling in the form of film with Allen Maldonado and Kellon Akeem who premiered their new movie, A Father’s Love, at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF). The short film, which centers on a teenage couple dealing with intense circumstances, was met with positive reception at the 22nd annual event. “What we want people to take away, without giving the movie away, is that there are all types of fathers out there and all types of situations that go on in people’s homes that you just may never know about….we want to make people aware of everybody’s surroundings,” Akeem said.

A FATHER'S LOVEA Father’s Love is the debut from Mansa Productions, a new film company launched in January by Akeem and actor Jessie T. Usher. The business partners worked with seasoned talent, such as RonReaco Lee and Tichina Arnold, which helped ease the process of producing their first movie.

When chatting with Akeem and Maldonado, it is clear both are excited for what the future holds and are passionate about their craft. In fact, Maldonado, a serial entrepreneur, founded the app, EverybodyDigital to serve as a platform for short-films. He noticed the need when he realized many short-filmmakers feel lost after the film festival circuit ends. The aim is to help creators extend the life of their projects. Similarly, Akeem says he and Jessie are also looking for talent to join Mansa Productions.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about filmmaking, film festivals, Maldonado and Akeem’s big upcoming projects, their advice for aspiring writers, producers, etc., and more! For more information visit Mansa Productions and EverybodyDigital.

Interview with Diann Valentine, Author of “Going The Distance For Love”!

DIANN VALENTINE
Photo by Robert Ector

Love and relationship expert, television personality, entrepreneur, speaker, publisher, and author, Dianne Valentine recently appeared on So Booking Cool in support of her debut book, Going The Distance For Love: 22 Tips On Handling Your Issues and Finding Love…Wherever It May Be. As someone who informs that she has been in love with love since she was seven-years-old, this is an endeavor close to her heart, no pun intended. The book was composed of her and her friends’ personal experiences, a process Valentine described as a “lethargic” in having to think back on her life. However, she used these real stories to provide the lessons learned, and more importantly, to help women realize they are not alone.

“…Even experts and authors kind of create this picture that they have it all figured out and that they’re perfect; and the reality is I am an expert because I’ve lived it, and I’ve seen it, and I’ve experienced it, and I’ve studied it over the course of my entire career. I didn’t wake up yesterday and say ‘oh, I’m a love expert.’ I’ve been with women in love for over twenty-five years,” said the wedding planner and interior designer. Women have appreciated the knowledge, experience, and candor she demonstrates in Going The Distance for Love.

Listen to our full interview with Valentine to learn more about her insights on love, relationships, and being single (including their respective misconceptions), some of her past dating blues, why she thinks black women should consider dating in Rome, her response to our suggestion of her writing a romance a novel, and more! For more information, visit Valentine’s official website.

Interview With Nono The Poet About Her Poetry Book “Soul Vagina”!

SOUL VAGINAWhen asked how she thinks her book, Soul Vagina: In Between Sex and God, Who Am I? will be received for years and generations to come, Nomxolisi Ndlangana carefully considers the question before answering, “Depending on which part of the world we’re talking about…this is a book that might be banned. And if that is the case, then I have done something very right.” Ndlangana, known as Nono The Poet, hopes her debut poetry collection will contribute to the movement and progression of women.

In just a few months of its release, Soul Vagina has caused a stir with its bold title, which led to Nono and So Booking Cool discussing why vagina is a controversial word. Even at the book’s launch, a gentleman in the audience admitted that saying or hearing the word “penis” makes him uncomfortable. Women have been able to relate to the book, especially regarding the highs and lows of relationships. “You can expect a lot of sex, yes, but I use it as a medium to explore different ideas about sexuality, self-identity, and the intricacies between two people in a relationship,” the author said.

nonothepoetpicNdlangana, 30, has been writing for most of her life. She was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and relocated to America nearly a decade ago, fulfilling her dream of coming to New York. She earned her B.A. in Media Studies at Hunter College. While performing spoken word and eventually crafting her EP, Wet Paint, she studied the journey of successful women, such as Oprah. In doing so, she realized there is no straight line to success, which helped her to not be so hard on herself.

In fact, she  discusses how those in her life who are moving up the corporate ladder and have the house, car, etc., have been supportive and are amazed with what she’s accomplished thus far. “They could not be more proud and feel they are lacking next to me, which is crazy because I don’t have half of what they have. But I realized that everybody wants to do what they love…most of the time we settle instead of going after our dreams.”

Listen to our complete interview to learn more about Soul Vagina, Ndlangana’s approach to writing (does she prefer writing with a pen or on a keyboard?), the book that recently made her cry, the importance of having a manager and team, her advice for other fellow writers, developing confidence, her next EP, and more! Visit her official website for more information.

Review: “Authority Marketing” by Adam Witty and Rusty Shelton

authoritymarketingAUTHORITY MARKETING: HOW TO LEVERAGE 7 PILLARS OF THOUGHT LEADERSHIP TO MAKE COMPETITION IRRELEVANT, Adam Witty and Rusty Shelton. ForbesBooks, $16.95 (160p) ISBN-13: 978-1946633132
Publication date: May 3, 2018

While many modern business-related books stake claim to having the “answers” few actually deliver. An exception to this trend is the recently published Authority Marketing by Adam Witty and Rusty Shelton. The authors assert in this world of social media, branding, and hypercompetition, the paradigm has shifted from product-centered marketing and personality-centered marketing to “authority-centered” marketing; thus, they have developed the formula: Expertise + Celebrity = Authority.

In short, according to the Witty & Shelton: Effective Authority Marketing involves a strategic process of systematically positioning a person as the leader and expert in his or her industry, community, and marketplace to command an outsized influence and edge on competitors.

The authors cite seven pillars of Authority Marketing (and dedicate a chapter to each one): Branding and Omnipresence; Lead Generation; Content Marketing; PR in Media; Speaking; Events; and Referral Marketing. During the course of these chapters, Witty & Shelton provide compelling anecdotes to illustrate concepts so the reader “gets it.” The language is straightforward, not stuffy, and the authors don’t write as if they are being paid by the number of words (or syllables for that matter).

An example used to illustrate the point of personal branding made by the authors is their mentioning of David Meerman Scott who decided to insert his middle name to distinguish himself from the numerous David Scott(s) across the globe. Think noted sports journalist, Stephen Smith—I mean Stephen A. Smith. Witty & Shelton also discuss the importance of “owning” your media presence, keynote speaking, writing a book, and using Twitter—strategically!

Authority Marketing’s strongest attribute (inarguably) is its intent on being written as a “how to” instead of being a jargon-laden, academic treatise overrun by “analytics” and theoretical constructs. The book is a must-read (excuse the cliché but it applies in this case) for college students (regardless of major), entrepreneurs, and people who want to go from being “dreamers” to being “doers.”

Reviewed by Professor Clifford Benton

Interview With Emma Dryden, Founder and Principal of drydenbks!

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When Emma Dryden was among the many publishing professionals who got laid off in 2009, she allowed herself time to regroup and ultimately took matters into her own hands. Just a year later, the praised drydenbks was launched. Dryden utilized her expertise and connections as a longtime publisher at Simon and Schuster and founded her own consultancy service for children’s books, in which she supports authors, illustrators, publishers, and agents. Her clients also include those thinking of joining the consultancy field. In other words, she still gets to live her passion every day, and has now worked in the industry for more than 30 years.

P1050536Emma posing with her book What Does it Mean to be an Entrepreneur? that she co-wrote with by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Ken Min

“I urge people not to undervalue themselves,” Dryden told So Booking Cool.

The English graduate’s books have been awarded by many including a John Newbery Medal and Honor, Caldecott, three Coretta Scott King awards (author, author honor and illustration), New York Times Best Illustrated Award and Edgar Allan Poe, just to name a few. She credits the authors she’s worked with for these honors. In addition to running her company, Dryden is also an author and speaker, and hopes to expand into the podcast world.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about drydenbks and how you can become a client or start your own consultant business, perseverance, her thoughts on children’s television, the mistakes she made earlier on in her career as an editor, her favorite adult series, and more! For more information visit her website.

Interview With Teri Coaxum, Author of Peaceful Pondering: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Inner Peace!

TERITeri Coaxum, professor, business coach, and founder and CEO of Coaxum Connects wrote her debut book Peaceful Pondering: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Inner Peace in hopes that people will allow themselves to become a priority in their lives. “The book is about finding that off button,” the motivational speaker told So Booking Cool. The self-help guide, published by Xlibris, discusses the important distinction between integration and balance when it comes to leading a peaceful life–something Coaxum has learned from her  own amazing and loaded career.

In 2004, Coaxum became the first African American woman Deputy State Director for Senator Chuck Schumer. Prior to this role, she was the Project Manager of Community Relations for the former Brooklyn District Attorney, Charles Hynes. She would eventually become the Regional Advocate for the Office of Advocacy’s Region II during Barack Obama‘s presidency, in which she served in the Small Business Community. Coaxum reveals she manifested working for the Obama Administration and put it into her vision book (not board!)

Image result for peaceful pondering   The New York-based educator (John Jay, Metropolitan, and Medgar Evers) also discusses mentors and sponsors, and networking vs. social climbing and opportunists, all of which she says can be distinguished by nurtured relationships. She also mentions some of her favorite self-transformation books, including those she has recommended to her students. Check out the full heartfelt interview above!