Interview With Alessandra Balzer, Co-Publisher of Balzer + Bray!

alessandra balzer

When Alessandra Balzer was fresh out of Colgate University, where she majored in French Literature and minored in English, she took her first job at HarperCollins as an editorial assistant. Years later she would become co-publisher of her own imprint at the same company. Balzer and Donna Bray, a fellow HarperCollins colleague, were both experienced and eager to become entrepreneurs. In 2008, they launched Balzer + Bray. 

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, Beyond the Pond, authored and illustrated by Joseph Kuefler, I Am Enough by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah Ariel and Leah on The OffBeat by Becky Albertalli are among just the few of the New York Times bestselling, critically-acclaimed and award-winning titles that Balzer + Bray have published.  Many of these titles have also become feature films, including The Hate U Give, which is slated to hit the big screens in October. “We like to do books that are risk-taking, when it’s appropriate, and when it offers a new voice and perspective,” Balzer told So Booking Cool.

Balzer is excited for the forthcoming titles at her company, including Kheryn Callender‘s second book and first YA novel, This Is Kind of An Epic Love Story (due in the fall) and writer and screenwriter Ben Philippe‘s Field Guide to the North American Teenager. “Thank goodness we’re finally seeing more different voices represented in children’s books and we have a long way to go still,” Balzer said. “[Field Guide] is an important book because it’s about a black boy having love stories, friendships, and drama, like anyone else. And I feel like we need a lot more of those.”

Balzer, whose publishing career spans 24 years (including a tenure at Disney Hyperion), worked under the tutelage of Katherine Tegen (Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins) and Nancy Siscoe (Knopf Books for Young Readers, Penguin Random House). She went on to edit titles that became National Book Award Finalists (Sold by Patricia McCormick, The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich; Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee)  Caldecott Honors (Mo Willems),and Newbery Medal-winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi, to name a few.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about publishing, Balzer’s advice for aspiring book editors, such as the pros and cons of specializing in one genre and being involved in multiple genres, the inspiration behind of I Am Not Enough, her favorite projects, and more! For more information, follow the co-publisher on Twitter.

Interview With Emma Dryden, Founder and Principal of drydenbks!

drydenbks - logo - JPEG

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.

Every Day I’m Hustling by Vivica A. Fox Review

vivicaaa EVERY DAY I’M HUSTLING, Vivica A. Fox. St. Martin’s Press, $26.99 (288p) ISBN-13: 978-1250134455
Publication date: April 3, 2018

Actress, producer, television host, entrepreneur, and now author, Vivica A. Fox, has penned a riveting memoir-inspiration based on her various life experiences turned life lessons from on and off the screen. Themes of family, relationships, beauty and fashion, and ageism are discussed, and, yes, the book does address her relationship with Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent (as well as Celebrity Apprentice, which of course, comes with discussing President Trump and his family), but the most resounding aspect of the book is Fox’s overall sheer commitment to helping the reader.

She provides lists of tips and examples of how to be successful personally and professionally, without sounding preachy or arrogant, but instead projecting honesty and confidence. The book also manages to capture how personable she is—Fox will have you thinking she is a friend in your head, and her tone is perfectly woven into the pages. This feels like such a complete memoir; it reads true and heartfelt; and none of the pages are filler. She even creatively includes her favorite things, like specific things she carries in her pocketbooks, and the songs she listens to to motivate her. There is very little she does not discuss.

Let me tell you a secret,” Fox writes. “When I was a little girl growing up in Indianapolis, no one could say “Vivica”…I was so sensitive about my name that I made it easy for everyone else, going by a shortening of my middle name….In life sometimes we run away from the things that make us unique.”

When Fox moved to California to pursue modeling (while working and going to school), she’d carry around a portfolio just in case she ran into someone of note—you know the saying, you never know who you may run into, so always be prepared. Well, one day she gets approached by a film producer and even though the exchange had nothing to do with modeling, she recognized the potential. She saw it as an opportunity. This moment arguably highlights her hustler’s mentality even then as just a teenager. It was this same drive that would lead to Fox producing her own projects, performing in theaters, launching her own hair line, being smart enough to capitalize off the reality TV craze, and even looking for ways to find a career based on another passion of hers, sports.

At one point, Fox considered quitting show business when she saw a decline in movie role offers and being considered “too old” for most, however, she managed to pick herself back up and take matters into her own hands. It can be said that her perseverance led to her snagging a role on the hit show Empire, the sequel to Independence Day, writing her very own book and her newly announced endeavor, talk show host. Full of heart, personality, and inspiration, Every Day I’m Hustling will appeal to people younger and older than Fox.

Comparative Titles: Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It by Charlamagne Tha God; How to be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh

Honorable mentions: I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice by Keke Palmer and Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis

Tyra Banks and Her Mother Team Up On “Perfect is Boring” Self-Help Memoir!

BANKSBOOK

Supermodel and mogul, Tyra Banks and her mother, Carolyn London will release their self-help memoir, Perfect is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss on April 3. TarcherPerigee (Penguin Random House) will publish the book.

If you’ve ever followed Banks career, you’d know London is no stranger to the America’s Next Top Model creator’s brand (she’s the CEO of the Tyra Banks Company, FYI). Additionally, Banks is no stranger to the book world. In fact, she penned her first self-help memoir back in 1998, Tyra’s Beauty Inside & Out (published by Harper Perennial). And in 2011, Delacorte Books for Young Readers published Banks’ debut YA novel, Modelland. Check out the trailer for the novel below!

Founded in 2015, TarcherPerigee is an imprint that specializes in self-improvement, creativity, spirituality, and parenting. Some of their successes include Start Where You Are by Meera Patel, The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci,  and Goldie Hawn’s 10 Mindful Minutes.

We at So Booking Cool are fond of the mother-daughter duo aspect of Perfect is Boring.  For more info, visit the official websites https://perfectisboring.com/ and http://www.penguin.com/publishers/tarcherperigee

YA Novel “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon Gets a Movie, Yara Shahidi to Star!

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.inddyara

The Sun is Also a Star, 2016’s National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller, will become Nicola Yoon’s second novel to hit the big screen. Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi, 18, will portray Natasha, an illegal Jamaican immigrant who falls in love with a Korean immigrant, Daniel. An undeniable but inconvenient romance claims both teens when Natasha gets deported to Jamaica.

Alloy Entertainment, which produces books, films, and television, will collaborate with MGM, and its parent company, Warner Brothers for the project, just as they did with Yoon’s first novel, Everything, Everything.  The Sun is Also a Star is published by the Penguin Random House imprint, Delacorte Press (One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManu).

In addition to acting, Shahidi is also known for being involved with social issues, especially immigration. Yoon, who is also Jamaican-American like Natasha, tweeted about the film announcement:

You guys. I’m so over-the-moon thrilled about this!!! @YaraShahidi is not only a brilliant actress, she’s a tireless activist & advocate. She’s gonna make the perfect Natasha!!”

Yoon is currently writing more books (or hits). You can visit her at http://www.nicolayoon.com/

 

Catch Tayari Jones, Author of Oprah’s Pick “An American Marriage” On Her Ongoing Book Tour!

anamericanmarriageTAYARI

Award-winning and now New York Times bestselling author, Tayari Jones, is currently on tour in support of her new novel, An American Marriage. The love story centers on a newlywed couple, Celestial and Roy, whose marriage is ultimately tested when Roy is sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Celestial believes her husband to be innocent, but is it enough to remain devoted to him during his extensive absence? Will she fall for her friend, aka the best man at her wedding? What will happen when Roy returns home after five years and aims to reclaim who he believes to be his soulmate?

An American Marriage is Oprah‘s newest book club pick and has debuted at number 2 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. It is published by Algonquin Books.

Jones is also the author of Silver Sparrow, The Untelling, and Leaving Atlanta. For more information on Jones’ events, check out the following websites:

http://www.tayarijones.com/events/?date1=2018 and

http://www.squarebooks.com/event/tayari-jones-american-marriage

“The Hate U Give” Author Angie Thomas Unveils “On the Come Up” Book Cover!

onthecomeup

Angie Thomas, debut author of the bestselling young adult novel, The Hate U Give, is gearing up for her next release, On the Come Up. The hotly anticipated novel is about 16-year-old Bri, an aspiring rapper (it runs in her family, as her father was an underground rapper on the brink of major success until his death) whose passion for conquering the rap world intensifies once her remaining family struggles to avoid homelessness.

Thomas has teamed up with Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) again for On the Come Up, which will be available June 5.

In addition to Thomas’s second book, fans can look forward to the film adaptation of The Hate U Give, which stars Amandla Stenberg (who also portrayed the protagonist in the bestselling YA novel-turned-film, Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon).