Tag: Neapolitan Sky

Go Jimmy Go: 2018 Year in Review

As a musician and writer, 2018 has been the best of year of my life. Not only did I complete more than 124 interviews for this blog, GuitarWorld.com and AXS.com over the course of these last twelve months, but 2018 also marked a trifecta of amazing milestones for me.

I began this whole writing journey with a single, simple Facebook resolution I made to myself on New Year’s Day in 2011. If you’ve been a regular follower of this blog over the last seven years, you’ll know that its the same one I post every January 1st to remind me of how it all began and just how far I’ve come:

Keeping that promise to myself over these last seven years has been an amazing ride, but 2018 saw three of the biggest, pinch yourself moments ever. Things I only ever dreamed about doing. So, as this year comes to close, I’d like to revisit them one more time.

2018 started out with a trip to Los Angeles in February for a once in a lifetime experience at Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp. Not only did I get to jam with two guys from my all-time favorite band, REO Speedwagon, but I also had the rare opportunity to perform on stage with Night Ranger at The Whisky A Go Go! Joining me that night were Craig Goldy (Dio) and three guys, Bobby, Rik and Tom, who I’d never met before but who quickly became friends and bandmates I’ll never forget.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: all the while I was in L.A preparing for Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp, I was also busily putting the finishing touches on something I think every writer dreams about doing, and in May of this year that dream finally came to fruition with the release of my first novella, “Neapolitan Sky.”

The story about Nica Mitchell’s journey actually began in the Summer of 2017 and took nearly six months to complete. It was a labor of love, pain and constant rewrites and second guesses. When I finally put the pen (or in this case, the lid of the laptop) down, I had the good fortune of having more than a dozen of my friends help me by being test/proof readers and editors. Their input and experience was invaluable in getting the story ready for publication. Following the release of “Neapolitan Sky,” I also had two amazingly successful book signings in Bethlehem and New Hope, PA.

Equally as surreal as the physical book was the release of an Audible version, which was read by one of my favorite artists and actresses, Ashley Watkins. Where I had brought the words of Nica Mitchell and her friends to the page, Ashley literally brought them to life!

But perhaps the biggest, and most exciting, event of the year came just a few weeks ago with the release of my first two interviews in the pages of Guitar World magazine. As a guitarist, I’ve been absorbing this magazine like religion every month since 1985. It’s a bible for any aspiring guitarist. Having already been blessed (religion – bible – blessed, get it?) to write for the website for nearly six years, getting the opportunity to contribute content to the physical magazine was another dream come true. When you open the magazine and see your name printed on the page right next to some of your guitar heroes its not only poweful, it’s humbling. Moreover, it’s proof that hard work, networking and kindness pays off.

Next year will mark another major milestone as I’ll be turning fifty years old. But as I look to that day with both fear and wonder I’m reminded that each and every day is part of the journey. Collectively, I look back on these last seven years and can’t believe some of the things I’ve accomplished. I’ve met so many amazingly talented people along the way. Not just actors, musicians, artists and filmmakers. In many cases, these are people who’ve become dear friends to me. Friends I’m proud to have in my life and ones who inspire me to do better.

Here it is in a nutshell: Since 2011, I’ve done nearly 2,000 interviews and articles, released three children’s books with one of my dearest friends, wrote my first novel, and have rounded out 2018 with two interviews published in the pages of Guitar World magazine. Even with all of that it still feels like I’m just getting started. There’s so much more to do, and I can’t wait to get started. As a preview, I already have an interview on deck with Def Leppard, who will be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. I’m also halfway through my new book, a prequel to “Neapolitan Sky” that’s set in the year 1986!

Please don’t read that last paragraph and think I’m tooting my own horn. I’m nobody special. What I’m trying to say by writing it down is that if I can do it — so can you. Dreams don’t just fall into your lap. You have to go out and make them happen. And sometimes, all that can start with just a simple resolution:

“I’ve resolved to do some writing. So here goes:”

I hope reading this blog will inspire you to do the same thing I did on January 1st, 2011, and that is to make a promise to yourself for 2019. A resolution to do something you’ve always dreamed about. Take the first sentence of my resolution and change the word “writing” to something you’re passionate about. Then go out and make it happen.

Here’s wishing you peace, love, music, art, writing….and all the best for the New Year.

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FREE Kindle Version of Neapolitan Sky

You read that correctly. From now until Friday, August 31st you can download a copy of my 172-page suspense/thriller “Neapolitan Sky” on Amazon Kindle absolutely FREE with no strings attached! All I would ask is that you consider writing a review of the story after you’ve finished reading!

Here’s a brief description of “Neapolitan Sky”:

“Dreams of becoming a professional writer are abruptly put on hold for college student Nica Mitchell following the unexpected death of her mother and her father’s cancer diagnosis. Forced to return home when he’s hospitalized after encountering a near death experience, Nica learns that her father has been keeping a dark secret. Something in between the stages of life and death that, when revealed, will change her life forever.”

Click here to download your FREE copy! Hope you enjoy!

NS

 

‘Neapolitan Sky’: Actress Ashley Watkins Discusses Voice-Over Project

Photo: Josh Daugherty

There are few artists with the ability to successfully transition between the world of dance, feature film and commercial work. Even fewer can successfully maneuver these mediums with desire, versatility and charm.

Ashley Watkins, a professional actress and dancer, and a fixture of the entertainment industry for nearly ten years, meets all of this criteria.

An accomplished artist and performer, her resume encapsulates the full spectrum of drama, comedy, horror and dance/music videos. Her versatility, prowess and beauty are matched only by her innate ability to draw deep emotion.

Watkins takes on multiple roles in her latest project; providing the voice-over narration for James Wood’s suspense-thriller, “Neapolitan Sky”.

In “Neapolitan Sky”, dreams of becoming a professional writer are abruptly put on hold for college student Nica Mitchell following the unexpected death of her mother and her father’s cancer diagnosis. Forced to return home when he’s hospitalized after encountering a near death experience, Nica learns that her father has been keeping a dark secret. Something in between the stages of life and death that, when revealed, will change her life forever.

Watkins’ entertaining and infectious voice can be heard on the Audible version of “Neapolitan Sky”, which is available now!

I recently spoke with Ashley Watkins about her work on “Neapolitan Sky” and more in this exclusive new interview.

Was voice-over work something you’ve always done as an actress?

I’ve done some voice work in the past but never voice-over narration. So, this was totally new for me. It was fun to delve into the characters and find out who they are and then bring them to life. At one point, I didn’t even have to look at my notes to see how to do each voice. It came very naturally.

What are some of the differences between typical acting and doing voice-over for a book?

In a film, there’s typically one actor with one character. This was one actor playing multiple characters. So, I had to focus not only on the main character, but the side characters as well and then bring them all to life. They all come up very quickly in the book, and I remember at one point five of the characters were together on one page! Having to distinguish between the voices when the men were having a conversation was also a bit of a challenge.

Was there anything you had to do to prepare to take on this project?

Just like a movie script, I had to read through the story and then break down the acting in each of the chapters. I used a different color highlighter on the page to mark each character who was speaking. That way, I could prepare by seeing in advance who I was going to be speaking for while I was recording. I also had to make sure I was able to pronounce words correctly, so I did some research beforehand. After I had recorded each chapter, it then went into the editing process where I would clean up any excess sounds. I didn’t want any breaths or smacks and wanted only true silence between every space and at the end of each chapter.

What did you enjoy most about the story?

I liked the twist. It was something I never saw coming. I’m reading this book with a character I can completely relate to: a girl with a military dad who grew up in the military and had a close group of friends. I related to so many things and then, out of nowhere, the twist just blew me away. You think everything is comfortable and then something happens that makes you re-think about life. You’re asking yourself, is this real? I felt for every character in the book. 

You began your career as a figure skater. What made you make the transition to acting?

When I moved to Northern California when I was twelve, I had to quit ice skating because there wasn’t anywhere to skate that was within driving distance. The closest thing I could do that was similar was cheerleading and dance. As I started doing that, I also fell in love with drama and theater, which eventually opened the door to film. At the time, I was really into leading lady characters like Neve Campbell, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Julia Ormund. I went to college and got a theater degree and as soon as I graduated college, I went straight to L.A..

Are there any other projects you’re currently involved with?

I have a movie called “Professor Dario Bava” where I play the villain, Camilla. We’re going through an Indigogo phase right now. Our director, Phil Mucci, also wants to turn it into a comic book series to build the fan base. We’ll probably start filming in the spring. 

What gives you the most satifaction about doing “Neapolitan Sky“?

I liked that I was able to add all of my touches on it. A writer brings the story to life and I got to bring the characters to life, vocally. Normally, there’d be an audio expert coming in to edit when everything is finished. But since I also did the editing, I learned a lot about the process. It was fulfilling to know I could put all that work into something and people will be able to hear it. It was fun to start the project and see it through to completion.

Neapolitan Sky

What are you reading this weekend? For a limited time, you can get my new suspense/thriller for just $1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Dreams of becoming a professional writer are abruptly put on hold for college student Nica Mitchell following the unexpected death of her mother and her father’s cancer diagnosis. Forced to return home when he’s hospitalized after encountering a near death experience, Nica learns that her father has been keeping a dark secret. Something in between the stages of life and death that, when revealed, will change her life forever.

Five-Star Amazon Reviews: 

“Don’t be taken in by the serene title, suggestive of an Italianate summer sojourn (which I theorize pays homage to a haunting Avett Brothers tune). Nothing is as it seems; so don’t plan on getting comfortable, or settling in. Just when you think you can anticipate what comes next, because you detect some familiar Serling-esque patterns in character development, this gifted writer repeatedly surprises and refreshes with equal portions of rapid-fire suspense and unforeseen plot twists.”

“It’s hard to believe that James Wood was able to tell a story with so many twists, turns and somersaults in 151 pages. No fluff, just a well-told tale that takes you to places that will blow you away. A perfect book for a beach weekend.”

“AMAZING! I connected to the characters immediately. I would have to say by far one of the best novellas I have ever read. Once I started, I had to finish. Would recommend to everyone!”

“I totally enjoyed reading “Neapolitan Sky”. With colorful and vivid descriptions James brought his characters to life. From beginning to end the suspense builds until the unexpected ending.”

Click here for more information and to order.

Under A Neapolitan Sky

I am super-excited about the release of my new novella, “Neapolitan Sky”.  Right now, it’s going through a second round of test readers and the plan is to have a final edit done prior to publishing, which as it stands now appears to be in early spring.

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I’d like to use these next few articles to share with you more details about the book that will hopefully pique your interest. First, I should mention that a novella is about half the size of your traditional novel. Some of the all-time great novellas include “Animal Farm,” “Of Mice And Men,” “The Old Man And The Sea” and “A Christmas Carol”.  I’m in no way putting my book in the company of those classics, but if you’ve read any of them as part of your high school English class, or even for your own enjoyment, you’ll have an idea as to length of my story, which right now is 155 pages.

“Neapolitan Sky” is a thriller about a girl named Nica Mitchell; a college student with dreams of becoming a professional writer. Nica is forced to return home when her ailing father is hospitalized after suffering a near-death experience while receiving cancer treatment. While there, Nica learns about what happened to her father during those precious moments in between life and death. It’s a haunting secret that will change her world forever.

Interested? Please, read on!

The next thing I’d like to discuss is what actually inspired “Neapolitan Sky”. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing hundreds of artists, musicians and actors over the last five years, and the idea for writing this story actually came about as a result of an interview I’d done with the amazing actress, Fiona Dourif, in the Summer of 2017.

For those who aren’t aware, Fiona’s father is Brad Dourif, whose film credits include “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Eyes of Laura Mars” and “The Lord of The Rings” among many others. He’s perhaps best known for being the voice of Chucky in the “Child’s Play” films, which has also featured Fiona in the last two installments.

Since Brad only plays the voice of the doll, Fiona hasn’t really had a chance to work face to face with her father on screen. So, one of my questions was to ask if she’d ever be interested in working with him in a role outside of “Chucky”, even if it was in a short film.

I remember her exact words to me were, “Absolutely! You write it. Let’s do it!”

Although I realized such a thing would most likely never happen, it nonetheless led me to write a story about a father and his daughter, using Fiona and Brad as inspiration for the main characters–and with that, “Neapolitan Sky” was born.

I hope you’ll stick around to learn more about the story in the days and weeks ahead. For me as a writer, it doesn’t get much better than this!

FionaBradFiona Dourif photo by Ryan West