Interview With Michelle Wolett, Owner of Once Upon a Book Club!

ONCE UPON A BOOK CLUB

Once Upon a Book Club is not the typical book subscription box. It enhances the reading experience by including a replication of an item mentioned in the novel. As you can imagine, this concept is engaging for people, an aspect that the company’s founder, Michelle Wolett, appreciates. “I’ve learned that it’s really helping the world read more,” Wolett told So Booking Cool. “So that’s the part that I really love about our company because I also at some point in my life just stopped reading; life just got too busy. There’s so many people out there that say ‘oh, I just don’t read’ or ‘I don’t like books,’ and this has actually changed their mind because they’re not supposed to open their gift until they reach a certain page. So it’s also like a treasure hunt for them.”

MICHELLE WOLETTE

It would not be untrue to say that entrepreneurism runs in Wolett’s family. However, one unlucky business move that her parents made with her uncle, unfortunately led to her parents losing their home (that her father handmade, by the way). Wolett, who recalls her father’s devastation, turned tragedy into triumph. She was determined to start a successful business. Anything to help her parents out financially. Her parent company, Chick-Lit Designs would also revert her love for reading and she would eventually quit her day job to take over her business full time.

When asked for her advice for anyone who wants to become a self-starter, Wolett said, “…I notice that a lot of people seem to just be afraid of failing and that’s one thing as an entrepreneur that you have to just go with. It’s okay if you fail, it’s not the end of the world. You can fail or you can adjust or tweak.”

Listen to the full interview for Wolett’s advice, her insight on re-branding and branding in general, the Once Upon a Book Club system, how she selects books for the subscriptions, her Once Upon a BookCase collection, and more! For more information visit Once Upon a Book Club.

Interview With “Maki” filmmaker Naghmeh Shirkhan!

NaghmehOut of all male nominees, Naghmeh Shirkhan won Best Director for her feature film Maki at this past week’s Chelsea Film Festival, a victory that both surprises but makes sense to the filmmaker. “It’s been such a long road for me, and I have kept at it. To me, it should not matter whether you’re male or female, the work should stand on its own,” Shirkhan told So Booking Cool.

Maki, which took 18 days to shoot, captures the story of a New York-based young Japanese woman’s coming-of-age. The film explores the themes of love and loss, power and manipulation.

Film_coverShirkhan, an Iran native, knew she wanted to work in film when she was in high school. She worked at a video store throughout her teens and early twenties in her hometown of Boston, and then attended film school. Once she graduated, she stayed committed to her passion and moved to New York where she worked in advertising and editing on the production side. While she knew she wanted to be an independent filmmaker, she lacked connections in the industry. But Shirkhan held onto her vision and eventually made her debut, critically-acclaimed film, The Neighbor.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Shirkhan’s journey to filmmaking; Maki; what she thinks can be done to increase the amount of women filmmakers; the advantages that aspiring directors have today; her views on making movies on phones and casting; her love for books and how novels influence her; and more! For more information, visit http://maki-film.com/ and follow Shirkhan on Instagram.

Interview With Jerald L. Hoover, Author of “My Friend, My Hero”!

HOOVERThough it took nine years for Jerald L. Hoover to get his book, My Friend, My Hero published, it would later celebrate 25 years of release; win multiple awards and garner accolades; become a semi-finalist in the Gotham Screenplay Contest; and make Hoover a staple in his hometown of Mount Vernon. He was awarded with the WritersCorp Award by president Bill Clinton and was among the top selling black authors in the early 90’s. The professor, motivational speaker, playwright, award-winning author and sports journalist is now excited for the new generation to be introduced to My Friend, My Hero, the first in a series.

The young adult novel tells the story of Bennett Wilson, a level-headed athlete who seemingly has it all with the top colleges lining up to sign him to their basketball roster, but life tests him in a major way when his mother falls ill and behind on the rent, forcing Wilson to consider the bad road he’s always tried to avoid in order to save his family. The novel, which Hoover began writing when he was 17-years-old, is a powerful story of friendship, education, the choices one makes.

25th 3D Light Red Shirt“My endeavor is to reach everyone, but out of everyone I want 1 million young men to read the book because I really think it will shape their thinking to be more positive and proactive,” Hoover told So Booking Cool. “And I really think that will help America going forward.”

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Hoover’s journey to writing My Friend, My Hero and getting it published; how the book is still relevant; why he champions literacy; the comment he’ll always remember from a fellow reader about his book; the marketing ideas he implemented for his book; and info on the series; and more! For more information, follow Hoover on twitter, as well as the Hero Book series.

Interview With Zachary S. Williams of “I Am Frankie”!

Zachary SBCFor something that was initially a hobby, young actor and musician Zachary S. Williams has serious goals for his career in entertainment. In addition to his aspiration to become a director, the Nickelodeon star also hopes to launch an organization that will connect children to the arts.

“Art, in general, is an important field that I think most people need to experience, and the younger, the better,” the 18-year-old told, So Booking Cool. “I think the younger you are, the more excited you would be to try new things.”

Williams, who has been active in show business for a decade, started in theater (he would love to act on Broadway someday), appeared in commercials, modeled in print ads, and even co-hosted the show Rays Rookies.  Later, he would land a role in the debut season of the hit series, Greenleaf, where he worked alongside Oprah Winfrey—probably the “most amazing experience” Williams says he could have.

He would then star on the popular series I Am Frankie, which tells the story of a teen girl living the double life of an android acting as a human in a risky attempt to preserve her safety.  While the show is meant to be entertaining, specifically for children, Williams believes the series also upholds the message that there are issues that can come with being different.

What is his advice for young people looking to break into the industry?

“Everything happens for a reason,” the Orlando, Florida native said. “And what’s meant for you will not pass you by.”

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Williams, including the career he thought he wanted to have, as well as how he studies his craft, what one can expecting from acting classes, his favorite book on acting, philanthropy, and more! For more information, visit Williams on social media.

Interview With Tom Wascoe, Author of “Child of the Dust”!

tom wascoe.pngThere are two things Tom Wascoe wants readers to take away from his book Child of the Dust: love conquers all and the importance of the Vietnam War. The story is inspired by Wascoe’s service in the army as well as his Corporate Officer career at a Fortune 100 company. He once told someone that he would write a book about the war, and accomplished his goal forty years later.

Child of the Dust tells the story of a soldier, Richie, who falls in love and procreates with a native, though he is forbidden to marry her. Richie is obligated to leave the army and returns to life in America. Two decades later, however, they reunite, along with his son.

“The whole Vietnam experience was very important to me, the struggles and the people that we left behind,” the author told So Booking Cool.

Child of the Dust coverPrior to penning Child of the Dust, Wascoe was not a reader of romance—he typically reads historical fiction. But when chatting with him, his passion for the story’s message that “love is overriding” is palpable. Listen to the full interview to learn more about the Chicago resident.

We discuss his thoughts on a film or television adaptation of Child of the Dust; his perspective on book reviews; how many books he reads a year; his debut book, Backseat, which is also partly derived from a personal event in his life; his experience with Bookstand Publishing; and his upcoming work. For more information, visit Wascoe’s official website.

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 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 Michelle Staubach Grimes, Author of “Pidge Takes The Stage”!

Michelle Staubach Grimes - Head Shot

Literacy has always mattered to Michelle Staubach Grimes, the daughter of the legendary record-breaking, two-time Super Bowl champion, Roger Staubach. She saw firsthand the value of determination and hard work. Her commitment to literacy was fueled after she attended the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy a decade ago. “That’s when I learned about the literacy crisis and how many kids can’t read, how many adults can’t read…it really inspired me to go back to school and study creative writing at night,” the author and mother of three told So Booking Cool. It also inspired her commitment to help increase literacy rates by teaming up with organizations and programs, as well as launching her own movement, #PidgePromise (Laura Bush and Jimmy Kimmel are among the supporters.)

Pidge Takes the Stage - Book Cover (1)The campaign, which strives to promote reading and writing, is based on Grimes’ character, Pidge from Where is Pidge? and its new sequel, Pidge Takes The Stage, both of which are illustrated by the award-winning editorial cartoonist and art director, Bill DeOre.

The series highlights themes of family, friendship, work ethic, persistence, and discipline. “One of the big lessons in the book [Pidge Takes the Stage] is when Pidge’s teacher says to her ‘unspectacular preparation leads to spectacular results,’ and I took that quote from my dad, who was a football player, when I asked him to describe training camp to me.”

“I say to kids life is a grind, we have to work hard. You may not love school, but you have to work hard at it, not skip your practices, and not give up,” said Grimes.

Listen to the full interview for our discussion about being the middle child, parenting, the dynamics of creating a children’s books, what it was like working with her editor, why aspiring authors need to be astute about their competition, and more! For more information, visit http://www.whereispidge.com/

Interview With Deborah Gregory, Author of The Cheetah Girls!

DeborahGregoryHeadshotAs a child, Deborah Gregory‘s life circumstances required her to utilize her reading and writing skills for the benefit of her illiterate foster mother. It is the reason she says she became a writer and author. “If she had told me ‘make me laugh,’ I’d be a comedian. There’s no question about it. She controlled my every thought and movement,” she told So Booking Cool. This is just one of the compelling realities of The Cheetah Girls creator’s life. She revealed that she discovered the details about her paternal side, which included learning that she has a half-sister who resides in New York like herself. What’s more is she searched for her mother for 20 years.

The Cheetah Girls, a story that follows the lives of a young, ambitious girl group who also happen to be close friends, is close to Gregory’s heart. “I’ve never had a circle of friends, and that’s what these girls were to me,” she said. As a child she fantasized about being in a singing group, though she says she wouldn’t have pursued it because she can’t sing. She may not have boasted a talent in music, but even prior to having a bestselling series, she found success as a runway model, fashion designer, entrepreneur (she owned two boutiques in New York City) and award-winning journalist. Each of these areas of business proved instrumental in the development The Cheetah Girls.

Gregory knew Andrea Davis Pinkney from their days of working at Essence magazine, who would acquire and edit The Cheetah Girls, which would expand into a beloved franchise (three high-rated films, soundtracks, sold-out tours, dolls, etc.) Gregory’s success naturally resulted in her writing another book, Catwalk.

Listen to the complete interview to learn more about Gregory, foster care, therapy, how Destiny’s Child helped influence The Cheetah Girls, the girls who covered the original books, including former girl group, Before Dark, her thoughts on the film adaptation’s Hollywood casting, advice for authors, her upcoming projects and a lot more! For more information visit her website or 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.