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Against All Odds: Author / Humanitarian Joey Parker Discusses Inspirational New Book

JoeyParkerMovementJoey Parker was at a crossroads in his life. Growing up in a very conservative town in Idaho, he often struggled with his own personal identity and relationships as well as with college and his purpose in life. It wasn’t until a trip to Africa that Joey was able to find his true calling. A passion to make a difference in the world that would result in the creation of an entire movement.

Today, Joey’s humanitarian efforts have not only resulted in raising funds and awareness for those suffering in third world countries, but also for the major social and ecological issues here at home. Joey also regularly contributes articles and interviews highlighting the positive side of Hollywood for his own website as well as for MTV Act.

Joey’s first book, The Joey Parker Movement: Against All Odds is an insightful collection of personal stories offering today’s youth encouragement in overcoming life’s obstacles. From dealing with anxiety to coping with heartache and death, the book is a primer for building a better perspective and world. With celebrity contributions from the likes of Denise Richards, Lisa Rinna, Kristin Cavallari and even a foreword by Paris Hilton, Joey’s book is a story of one man’s dream for the future and a how-to guide for living a better life.

I spoke with Joey about his inspiring new book and movement.

How did the idea for the book come about?

I always thought my story was unique and interesting and the idea of writing a book was something that was always on my bucket list. About two years ago, I reached out to a publishing company that was following me on Twitter and about a week or so later we had a conference call. They loved the idea and concept for it and the process began.

What was the writing process like for you?

I’ve never done anything like this before so I spent a lot of time writing at night, writing in coffee shops and going back and forth with my editors. It was a learning process, but such an amazing project to work on. In the book I talk about many different subjects that were tough for me to go through. I think it will really help other people come into their own as well.

A lot of celebrities made contributions to the book. Tell me a little about that.

All of my relationships in the book came about randomly through Twitter, interviews or through some of the work that I’ve done. I’ve maintained many of those relationships so when the opportunity came to reach out with the idea for the book, they all loved it and wanted to write-up pieces for it.

Joey-ParisWhat made you decide to include the foreword by Paris Hilton?

Paris has such a unique voice. A lot of people tend to see her through a different lens (i.e. tabloids), but she’s a smart entrepreneur who’s grown such an incredible business empire. She’s a fascinating person in pop culture and there’s a lot of pop culture throughout the book. I really wanted to add her voice to the foreword.

What was the inspiration that started The Joey Parker Movement?

It was during a time when I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life and figuring out who I was as an individual. I decided that one of the things I wanted to do was go on a really big trip, so I went to Africa. While I was there I saw a whole other side of the world I never thought I would get to see. When I came back I knew I wanted to do something. I just wasn’t sure what it was.

What did you do next?

I decided to start blogging and writing about the positive side of pop culture. I began writing articles, Tweeting and reaching out to celebrities for interviews. I wanted to show a different side of Hollywood. The positive side. There’s so much negativity out there and people just tearing each other down. I want to embrace the good. That’s where the theme of my website and book came about.

How would describe The Joey Parker Movement?

It’s an evolving theme that’s based on living with a positive attitude and embracing the good in life. For the website, it’s about embracing the good in Hollywood and showing a different side that people don’t often get to see.

What disappoints you the most about what’s going on in the world today?

I am disappointed in the lack of compassion that so many politicians around the United States have when it comes to LGBT rights. I was just at a hearing in Boise, Idaho where I was able to talk with protestors who were urging Idaho politicians to “Add The Words” to the Idaho Human Rights Act (adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”). For months, activists went to the capital to protest yet politicians throughout Idaho once again ignored the people. After my visit to Boise, three LGBT teens committed suicide.

The time is now to speak up, and politicians need to wake up. We must begin to pass laws that protect our people. The youth of our country need support and I hope through my book the younger generation can find some extra hope that boosts them forward.

Joey Parker (Photo by: Christopher Loke)

Joey Parker (Photo by: Christopher Loke)

Consequently, what excites or encourages you about what’s going on in the world today?

How passionate our generation is. I believe we are a unique generation that is ready to push toward a positive future. We truly are ready to make a difference. We are sick of the cycle we have seen in the past and are ready to take it into our own hands. We are vibrant go-getters ready to take on the obstacles we have ahead and pave our own ways.

What’s the message you’d like people to take from reading your book?

Happiness is an inside job. Looking within ourselves may be scary, but it’s facing our inner battles that unlocks the path toward true happiness.

For more on The Joey Parker Movement
Be sure to check out his official website by Clicking Here!

The Freezing Snowman: Author B. Hagen Discusses New Children’s Book / Guitar Duel

Freezing SnowmanGuitar fans already know about B. Hagen (The Commander-In-Chief) from the amazing guitar duel she recorded with Thomas Valeur. The video of the 24 year old Norwegian guitarist performing Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen Op. 20 went viral and became one of Guitar World magazine’s top viral videos of 2013. But Hagen’s creativity goes well beyond the instrument. She’s just released her first children’s book, “The Freezing Snowman”.

Written and illustrated by Hagen herself, this beautiful 46-page book tells the magical story about a snowman suffering from the elements and unable to help himself. For young readers, the story demonstrates not only the power of persistence, but also the rich rewards for helping those around them.

I spoke with Hagen about her book, the guitar duel and the other projects she’s currently working on.

What made you decide to write a book?

Originally, I thought it would make a cool Christmas present for my younger siblings. But when the rest of the family figured out what I was up to, they all pushed for me to self publish it.

How did the idea for the story come about?

I was making a snowman with my two youngest siblings back in the winter of 2012. I remember needing a hat and a scarf for him so I asked my youngest brother Eric if I could borrow his. He was not at all interested in any of HIS things being used, so I told him that the snowman was freezing and desperately needed something to keep himself warm. That was how the idea of the Freezing Snowman was born.

What is the real story behind The Freezing Snowman?

It’s about many things and can be interpreted in many different ways. At first, I was thinking it was about someone being utterly miserable; in a situation they cannot influence. The snowman is not really happy until he starts melting, which is obviously ironic. The kids hold on to him though, just like kids do when they have a pet that is suffering. It might be better for the snowman to “die”, but that would be terrible for the children as they refuse to let go of who they love. They have given him an identity and perceive him as living. The mother of the children (who is a grown up) doesn’t see this. That of course leaves the question of whether or not the snowman is alive or only exists in the imagination of the children. Ultimately, I think this book is about love.

How long did it take you to write and illustrate the book?

I started making the drawings during the winter of 2013. I showed them to my then 7-year-old brother just to see what he thought and he got very excited about the story and wanted more. The writing took me a bit longer, as I waited to get feedback from my 19-year-old brother and mother. I remember there was a major discussion in the family about the ending. I then re-did all of the illustrations later in the year using different materials. The original drawings were all made on cardboard, which I cut myself.

CommanderInChiefDo you come from an art background?

I do. I had my first exhibition when I was 13, when I was doing geometric abstraction. My big dream since I was 5 was to become a designer. I got accepted into my high school’s advanced art program and later took classes with Linda Cohn and Kirsten Leenart at the Hyde Park Art Center. Everyone expected me to pursue a career in visual arts, but I took a 4 year break from art to focus on my music. I still design my own stage outfits and in late 2012 started doing art again. All of the illustrations in the book were made on Langton watercolour paper using Faber Castell watercolour pencils, Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolours, Derwent Inktense Blocks and Staedtler pigment liners. I also used a variety of brushes and a very handy sponge!

Tell me a little about your Guitar Duel. How did you choose the song and how long did it take to prepare?

I grew up listening to classical music. Itzhak Perlman’s recordings were always played, and the “Zigeunerweisen” was a personal favourite. It was my manager/mother (Elisabeth) and my idea to do a guitar recording of it. It took me 5 months to prepare and I even got injured: dislocating my collar-bone while practicing. But I always like a challenge, and it feels really good to be able to play such a fantastic song. I’m thrilled at how well it has been received!

What other projects are you working on? 

I’m currently preparing for a new guitar duel with a very successful British based classical guitarist. We have picked two of the pieces already and will have our first rehearsal soon. As far as my solo career is concerned, I have another tv appearance at the beginning of next month. I’ll get to play two of my original songs on ”Good Morning Norway” and will also be interviewed. I’ll also be performing at the Musikkmesse in Frankfurt, which I’m really looking forward to! And I was just a guest on the biggest Saturday night TV talk show in Norway. More than 600,000 people saw the program so that was very cool!

Do you see yourself writing more children’s books in the future?

That would be great! I have tons of ideas for more stories, both picture books and morbid short stories for older children. Most of them, if not all are inspired by my siblings or my own childhood.

What satisfies you the most having completed your first book?

The illustrations look good in print! Now it’s time to see what children think about it!

For more info on The Commander-in-Chief and The Freezing Snowman
check out the Official Website by Clicking Here!

In the U.S you can purchase a copy of the book here!

Beautiful Colors: Author Andrew Golub Discusses Unique Duran Duran Book

BeautifulColorsAuthor Andrew Golub is not your typical Duran Duran fan. Over the course of three decades, the Pacific northwest native has amassed a rather impressive arsenal of band memorabilia. It’s a collection that includes everything from rare articles and artifacts to carefully restored posters and prints that document every chapter of Duran Duran history. Selections from Golub’s archive have already been showcased in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as well in an A&E Biography, two film documentaries and several public exhibitions.

Golub’s 260-page book, “Beautiful Colors: The Posters of Duran Duran” presents an interesting perspective of the band’s career as well as his own fandom. Through the use of full-color posters from 1978 to the present, Beautiful Colors documents the band’s evolution through vintage artwork and stunning photography by Christine Born.

The book has received overwhelming praise from members of the fan community as well as from Duran Duran themselves, with keyboardist Nick Rhodes contributing a touching forward. Beautiful Colors is a book for any fan of Duran Duran or those with a penchant for 80′s nostalgia. Moreover, the book is a true testament to the power of music.

I spoke with Golub about the book and his fascination of all things Duran Duran.

Golub3What was your primary motivation behind the Beautiful Colors book?

A book was always a possibility given the breadth of my collection and I’ve received many gentle urgings to produce something like this from friends and fans over the years. From exhibitions to my website, I strived to make my collection more accessible to the global fan community as well as the band. Due to their sheer size, posters tend to be the most dramatic category in the archive and the type of memorabilia I feel most proud of. So the concept behind Beautiful Colors felt like a natural decision.

How did you determine which pieces to include?

Since the collection is bursting with treasures, selecting posters for inclusion was a challenge. But once I decided to focus only on official promotional posters (from record companies, concert venues, etc), the choices became clear. Posters are designed to capture attention and ignite the imagination. They represent memories and milestones, for the band as well as the fans. I feel as if I’m working to preserve history through a medium that would otherwise be lost in time. My book may commemorate Duran Duran’s history, but the memories on each page belong to fans around the world.

When did your love of Duran Duran begin?

The first strains of Fab Five Fever nestled into my DNA when I was 13 – the later part of 1984. The combination of charismatic photo sessions, captivating videos, and spectacular, memorable music was all it took to activate my inner Duranimal. My days were soon filled with trips to supermarket magazine racks, brainstorming on how to fund purchases of DD material and of course, taking good care of the items in my growing collection. Hard to believe there was a point when my whole collection fit inside my bedroom. A fortunate thing since my mother refused to build an annex on to the house for memorabilia maintenance [laughs].

What was it about their music that really interested you?

Nick’s soaring keyboard arrangements against Roger’s rock-solid beat, John’s velvety funk-infused bass, Andy’s electrifying guitar licks, and Simon’s lush, wonderfully cryptic lyrics. Every song offered something fresh and exciting with each new listen. “Seven and The Ragged Tiger” was my first album, launching a full, swift occupation of my senses. The synthesized rapture of “The Reflex” captured my imagination first, followed by the harmonized bliss of “New Moon on Monday,” and the rest of the record overwhelmed with awesome. I found Duran Duran’s music stayed with me long after I stopped listening, and I felt myself yearning for more—discovering other albums, learning about the members, and essentially assembling a portrait of the artists behind my favorite tunes. The music was my gateway drug.

Golub hard at work, peeling off layers of excess paper from the back of a rare poster.

Golub hard at work, peeling off layers of excess paper from the back of a rare poster.

What made you decide to start collecting pieces of Duran Duran memorabilia?

Being attracted to Duran Duran’s strong visual style, acquiring memorabilia seemed like a natural direction. Photos offered glossy, handsome images and magazine articles were often accompanied by fan-friendly, full-page pin-ups. But posters took Duran Duran’s exciting, photogenic persona to an even higher plane. While I’ve enjoyed filling out the archive with many odd and fascinating artifacts, the posters have always been the heart of my collection and the clearest visual representation of Duran Duran’s professional history.

How do you acquire pieces for your collection?

Much of my effort revolves around careful networking, reaching out to those within the concert promotion industry and building credibility with my archive. The biggest challenge comes with every new tour, when the whole world becomes a potential harbor for poster production. That is also when I become most aware and appreciative of all the wonderful friends and fellow fans keeping me in mind across the globe!

Do you have a particular favorite?

Without picking a single, most prized item, I would highlight the posters I’ve been able to find from the band’s earliest chapters. Whether testing new material in Birmingham clubs, cutting their teeth as a support act or exploring their New Romantic roots, Duran Duran’s formative years remain the most elusive to document through posters. I have moments of quiet incredulity and deep pride when I look at the first chapter of my book, populated with more posters than I ever expected to include.

Have you ever gotten to meet the band?

I have met the band on several occasions and each encounter has been intensely meaningful and ingrained as a life highlight. Every time I am fortunate enough to meet Duran Duran I am reminded of why I do what I do, why the band deserve nothing less than absolute lifelong celebration and I walk away with renewed commitment to my archival work.

The entire band captivated by Golub's poster in 2005!

The entire band captivated by Golub’s poster in 2005!

What’s your favorite Duran Duran song? Album?

I was introduced to Duran’s sound through the Ragged Tiger album, particularly “The Reflex”. That record and single will always occupy a premium spot for me. However, Rio is bursting with some of my biggest faves. Especially “Lonely In Your Nightmare”, “Save A Prayer” and “Hold Back The Rain”. Timeless classics which never fail to elevate my heart rate, tap my emotions, and transport me to a very happy place. In the band’s recent years, All You Need Is Now is nothing short of crazy-awesome, having re-captured the same visceral, joyous feel that got me hooked in the first place! “Runway Runaway”, “Blame The Machines” and the title track are pure brilliance that I enjoy down to the molecular level.

What has the band had to say about your book?

The band has been incredibly supportive through Twitter and Facebook, and after a recent trip to present the book to Duran’s management in New York I learned the band assessed Beautiful Colors as “magnificent.” It was important to create something that both the band and the fans could be proud of. In addition to charting the band’s history, I set out to honor the bond between the band and their faithful following as well as my own connections within the global fan community. This passion is a powerful common thread we all share, and I feel blessed to be part of something so special, enduring and so much bigger than myself.

For more information on Andrew Golub and
Beautiful Colors: The Posters of Duran Duran Click Here!

To See Golub’s portion of an American Collector’s documentary
(38 minutes in): Click Here

Bobbi Brown Discusses New Book: Dirty Rocker Boys

dirty rocker boysShe’s been a model, video vixen, rock star wife and a reality TV star. But Bobbi Brown has taken things to an entirely different level as published author. The ex-wife of the late Warrant vocalist Jani Lane is dishing the dirt about the LA scene in her new tell-all book, “Dirty Rocker Boys: Love And Lust On The Sunset Strip.”

In it, Brown talks about her journey from Louisiana beauty queen to the glamorous life of LA. From her early modeling career and time spent on TV’s Star Search to how she became the infamous “Cherry Pie” girl in the Warrant video of the same name.

Brown also pulls no punches when it comes to detailing her sometimes stormy relationships with Lane, Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe), Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) and even a young Leonardo DiCaprio; often going into vivid detail about the sex, drugs and debauchery that ran amok in the 90′s. Her book is a roller-coaster ride of emotion and a refreshingly quick read. More importantly, it’s an open and honest look at the life of a Louisiana girl who’s come full circle.

In addition to the release of Dirty Rocker Boys: Love And Lust On The Sunset Strip, Brown’s reality show along with other fellow rock ladies has just completed a second successful season. I spoke with her about the book as well as her relationship with Lane and the close circle of friends that’s become known as the Ex-Wives of Rock.

What made you decide to write a book?

I had read about a dozen or so rock books that I had been mentioned in. As I was reading the stories I just remember thinking, “Well, that’s not exactly right.” I felt the stories were more serving the ones who wrote them and weren’t really being accurate or honest. So I thought I would do a retort, but also have it be what life was like on the scene from a woman’s perspective.

bobbibrownWhat was the writing process like?

Caroline [Ryder] and I met and hit it off right away. She really got my sense of humor and what I was looking for and came back with the best perspective of my voice. There would be times where she would come over and we’d stay up all night just talking stories. I couldn’t have asked for better ghost writer. I wanted it to be realistic and for the reader to feel like they were one of my friends and I was talking to them about it.

After you arrived in LA, did you think that you would be immune to the drugs, sneaking around and cheating?

I think that when you get into a situation like I was in, you always sort-of believe in the back of your mind that somehow you’re “special” and that’s not going to happen to you. But that’s delusional. And the thing is it’s not even personal, but I think it’s the nature of the beast when it comes to dating a musician.

It’s been discussed that Jani’s time with Warrant was strained due to his addiction. What was his relationship like with other members of the band while you were with him?

They all got along well and never really had any serious rifts. It was “party scene-ish” and just very social. There were no serious emotional bonds or loyalties that I witnessed. In the same respect, they had known each other for quite a while and had history together. That’s why I was a little bothered after Jani passed that they didn’t make a bigger deal about it. I took that personally. I do know that he put them through a lot of grief, but I think that was part of his illness and addiction.

You mentioned your regret for not being there much for your daughter Taylar while she was growing up. Is there anything else you regret?

You know, I could actually sit here and say that I have a little bit of regret about all of the decisions that I’ve made. Looking back, you can always say things like ‘”Hey, maybe I should have done this differently or tried a little bit harder.”  But I’m really grateful every day for what I have and I think that has a lot to do with the way things are going for me now. I’ve also learned that the more grateful you are, the less sad you are.

Did you discover anything else about yourself after you finished writing the book?

It was very cathartic. I didn’t go into it imagining that it would end up being therapeutic, but going through all of these stories opened up a lot things that I had suppressed over the years. Some of which I never really had any closure with. It was a nice release.

Let’s talk a little about “Ex-Wives of Rock”. What’s your relationship really like with the girls on the show?

Believe it or not, it’s exactly what you see on camera. We’ve known each other for more than 20 years so it’s very much like a family. We may have our battles, but it’s never a situation where one of us will say “I hate you and I’m never going to speak to you again!” We may fight and argue but at the end of the day, we all care for each other.

Ex-Wives of Rock (l to r): Bobbi Brown, Susan "Blue" Dixon, Athena Lee, Sharise Neil

Ex-Wives of Rock (l to r): Bobbi Brown, Susan “Blue” Dixon, Athena Lee, Sharise Neil

Have any of the people you talked about in the book approached you to refute your side of things?

Knock on wood… Not yet! [laughs]. What I will say though is that it’s my own perspective of my story and I was very honest and open about it. I might have said things that some people didn’t want discussed or talked about, but it’s my life too. It is what it is. My favorite thing to say is “If you didn’t want anyone to find out about it, then maybe you shouldn’t have done it!” [laughs].

BobbiWhat advice would you give to people who might want to follow in your foot steps?

Don’t just think that you’re going to go out to LA and “give it a shot.” That kind of attitude just won’t fly. That’s when you can get caught up in the mistrust and be side tracked by opportunists. Make sure that it’s something you’re really passionate about and driven to do. It’s a crazy city and everyone here is here for a reason.

Is there a message you’d like people to take from reading your book?

I don’t want people to come away from it feeling sorry for me. When they finish the book, I want them to feel that my life has come full circle and maybe say “Good for her!” I want them to feel good about what they’ve read. I also don’t want them to feel like I was a victim, because I wasn’t. All of my life experiences were my own choice.

No one made me do any of the things I did. But in the end, they all made me the person that I am today.

Be sure to check out Bobbi’s Facebook Page and follow her on Ex-Wives Of Rock

Doodle Meets The Pound Pup

Doodle Meets The Pound Pup - By James Wood & Michele Quinn

Doodle Meets The Pound Pup by James Wood & Michele Quinn

It wasn’t long after finishing our first children’s book together [Doodle], that Michele Quinn and I started pondering ideas for a second story. What we didn’t know at the time was that our next book about the adventures of a little girl and her dog would be one of both love and loss.

The story of ‘Doodle Meets the Pound Pup’ is a very personal one for Michele as Cocoa, the guest star of this installment of Doodle books, was the Quinn family’s very own dog.

While the timeline and some details have been arranged to fit the “Doodle” theme, the heart of the story is quite true. Cocoa was adopted by the Quinns two days before Michele’s birthday, so they were especially close, as Cocoa was her special birthday gift.

Cocoa-ConnorCocoa had spent her first years of life chained outdoors with another dog and by the time the animal rescue had her in their care, she was already afraid of men, had hip dysplasia, as well as separation anxiety.

Through no fault of her own, Cocoa was shifted to six different foster homes over the next six months, the last of which having her back outside on a large run.

The Quinns traveled for hours to bring Cocoa from Amish country back to their home in Eastern Ohio, never once regretting the decision to take her home (even after a $400 vet bill on her second full day with the family!)

Cocoa spent the next eight and a half years with her new family, who loved her deeply. Sadly, she began to suffer kidney failure at the end of March and the Quinns had to make the heartbreaking decision to end her suffering. She is now running free, finally catching up with the squirrels and bunnies that she loved to chase.

In keeping with our theme of giving back, from now until December 31st Michele and I will be donating 100% of the profits we receive from sales of “Doodle Meets The Pound Pup” to The Center For Animal Health & Welfare,  a no-kill shelter located in our hometown of Easton, Pennsylvania.

For more information on “Doodle Meets The Pound Pup” and to keep up with future book signings and events, be sure to check out our website by Clicking here

You can also visit us on Facebook

Click Here to purchase your own copy of Doodle Meets The Pound Pup!

Doodle Book Contest

Earlier this year, Michele Quinn and I released our very first children’s book, “Doodle”. Shortly after it’s release, we decided to donate all profits from the book to the daughter of Michele’s friend, who was ill and in need of a bone marrow transplant. 100% of the monies we received as profit were used to help offset the family’s medical bills as well as raise awareness of Aplastic Anemia; the disease the daughter had been diagnosed with.

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Now it’s time to put out a call to all faithful readers of this blog. Michele and I are nearing the final stages of completing our next book, Doodle Meets the Pound Pup – a rhyming story that centers around topics that aren’t discussed much, but ones that are very important.

In order to help us decide which Animal Shelter or Rescue Organization to donate proceeds from sales of the new book to, we need to hear from you!!

If you know of or represent a worthy Animal Shelter or Rescue Organization, we’re asking you to please write in and tell us which organization you feel is most deserving, but even more importantly… why you believe so. We’ll choose one entry that we feel best explains their cause to receive our donation.

The winner of the contest will also receive two signed copies of the new book; one for you and one for the winning shelter or rescue group!

To submit your entry, post it on our Facebook page
Or send us an email by Clicking Here

If you don’t have an organization to nominate, please consider sharing or Tweeting this article so we can get the word out.

More information on “Doodle Meets the Pound Pup” as well as a release date will be made soon. Thanks in advance for your help!

Doodle Book Signing

When I arrived, the line had already stretched out the door and seemed like it just went on for miles. I remember at the time being filled with so much emotion that for a split second I actually considered just turning around and going back.

Moravian

And that was just the line at the Starbucks….

Seriously, it was one of the best days ever. Yesterday, Michele Quinn and I signed copies of “Doodle” together for the very first time. It’s the book the two of us had spent the better part of a year working on together. If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know the story. But if you’d like to read about it again, Click Here.

Michele Meets Doodle

Michele Meets The “Real” Doodle

Michele had driven all the way in from Ohio to spend the afternoon signing copies of the book with me at The Moravian Book Shop; a Bethlehem bookstore that was founded in 1745 and is considered the oldest in the country. If you’re ever in the area, I highly suggest you check it out.

One of the coolest parts of the day actually happened even before we arrived at the bookstore. Prior to heading off to the signing, Michele finally had the opportunity to meet the “star” of the book she’s been doodling about for months (See Pic above).

Any new author will tell you they’re nervous before their very first book signing and for me, this was no exception. I suppose the biggest fear is going in with every intention of leaving with writer’s cramp from signing your name, but believing you’ll end up just sitting there alone at your table. But shortly after we arrived, an elderly gentleman came up to our little kiosk and inquired about the book. He browsed through it and listened to us discuss what it was about and wound up buying two copies for his grandchildren. With that “first sale” weight off our shoulders so quickly, the rest was a piece of cake.

Me and Michele

Me and Michele

There may not have been a line out the door, but over the next two hours Michele and I saw a steady stream of people. Some locals were just looking, while others happened to stumble upon us and wanted to hear the story and buy a copy of the book. We also had a mother come in with her teenage son who had just gotten back from a nature conservation camp and wanted to buy a copy. And then there were the friends and former classmates who came by to offer support and have their own copies signed.

To some it might have seemed like a small event, but for us this really was a really big deal. Especially when you consider the fact that Michele and I wrote this book without seeing each other at all. In fact, yesterday was the very first time we were together since we decided to write it. Everything from brainstorming ideas to illustrating to revisions were all done via email, Facebook and texting.

When the signing was over, Michele and I did what friends and classmates often do: hopped in the car and literally took a stroll down memory lane. We got in my car with another friend and drove past some of our old schools and “stomping” grounds. Places we used to frequent as kids growing up, and many of which Michele hadn’t seen in years. It was yet another surreal moment.

I guess the moral of this particular story is that dreams do come true, but sometimes in unexpected ways. Back in 1988, the only dream I had was becoming the next Bon Jovi. So if you would have told me back then that 25 years later I’d be sitting in a bookstore signing copies of a children’s book I had written with Michele, I would have thought you were nuts. But now, if given the option of stadium touring or writing books with one of the best people I know, I’ll choose the latter every time.

Juke Box Hero: Lou Gramm Discusses New Autobiography and Foreigner

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Former Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm pulls no punches in his new autobiography, Juke Box Hero.

In the book, which was co-written with Scott Pitoniak, Gramm leads readers on a journey from his humble beginnings in Rochester, New York, to the biggest stages in the world. He recounts his stint with Black Sheep, plus the ups and downs of working with guitarist Mick Jones in the band that made him famous.

From the diagnosis that nearly took his life to his solo career success and fascination for muscle cars, Gramm’s book is an honest portrayal of self-reflection from one of the greatest voices in rock history.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Gramm to discuss Juke Box Hero and get his thoughts on being inducted with Jones into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 13th.

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You Can read my complete Guitar World interview with Lou by Clicking Here!

Face Your Fear

doodlecoverWhen I heard my very first KISS album back in the 1970′s, a seed was planted and I realized I wanted to be a rock star. I remember picking up my grandmother’s hand-held potato slicer (which kind-of resembled a guitar) and played it til my fingers bled. Which come to think of it, happened rather quickly. Those little metal tines sure were sharp.

In the mid 80′s, I seriously began working on my craft. I’d sit up in my bedroom and play guitar for hours after school. I even remember getting mad at myself if I fell short of my set goal and only practiced for 2 1/2 hours instead of three. I couldn’t let anything (not even dinner or mowing the grass) interfere with my progress. Whether it was trying to figure out the lead to ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ by AC/DC or mastering a section from my guitar lesson music book, I accomplished it.

Back then, I had no fear.

It wasn’t until 1987 that I had my first chance to actually get out of the bedroom and play in front of an audience. I was the sole guitarist in the pit band for the school play and also performed the song “Flashdance” on stage with the school choir. That’s where it all began.

Over the next few years (oh, ok… decades… I’m 43) I played in no less than seven different bands with various degrees of success. I remember a lot of the lows, like playing hair metal in dive bars for 6 people. I also remember the high: performing in front of 6,000 people at Musikfest. But whether it was six or six thousand it didn’t matter. The message was the same:

festI had no fear.

I’ve never really been concerned about playing my music in front of an audience. Nope, no stage fright here. Whether they loved it or hated it, I didn’t care. As Frankie said, I was doing it “my way”.

Which leads me to the real meat of this post.

Last month, me (along with a great friend and artist) had the opportunity to write and publish my first children’s book. I was interviewed by the local newspaper about it (piece of cake) and did an on camera, live TV interview (ok, I’ll admit, that one was a bit scary). I was even offered the opportunity to read my book to a group of children at a bookstore next week to help raise funds for a local organization, and I jumped at the chance. Not only would it be for a good cause, but it would also be a good outlet for the story. In retrospect though, as the day beins to draw closer, I’ve realized something:

I have fear.

crowdThere is something about reading in front of children that intimidates me. I could bring my guitar and sing songs all day long without worry. But reading a book (MY BOOK) is a whole different story (literally and figuratively). It’s funny to think that I can already tell I’ll be looking for reaction from their faces; hoping that my book will be worthy enough for them.

It’s odd how someone my age, who’s played so much music in front of people of all ages, would suddenly be nervous when it comes to a small amount of children. But I think I know the reason. When we’re kids, we discover early on how much it means to fit in with others. We all grow up wanting affirmation from our peers that what we’re doing is cool in their eyes. It’s important to kids that they feel a sense of belonging with each other, and I think one of the reasons for my own “cold feet” about reading the book has something to do with my subconscious mind still wanting to fit in too.

Regardless, I know the event is going to be fun and I’m really looking forward to it. Although some of my fear may rest with the fact that this whole experience is something completely new to me, I’m going to face it. For as is the case with music, the show must go on.

See you there.

Doodle Interview On WFMZ TV

A lot of people have been asking about my interview with Eve Tannery of WFMZ.  So for those who may have missed it or just want to watch it again, here it is. Enjoy!

Thanks go out to Eve and everyone at WFMZ for taking the time to hear about the book.

You can read more of the “Doodle” story and purchase your own copy
by Clicking Here

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