(Photo credit: Jamielynn Storch)
One of the fringe benefits of travelling to Philadelphia in July to conquer the Rocky steps is meeting a new circle of friends, including first-time author Felice Cantatore from New York.
In his page-turning Rocky Spirit, Felice chronicles how his life’s journey parallels and intersects that of Rocky Balboa’s, and how "go the distance" has become his mantra.
Without giving away the details, my favourite moment in the book is when Felice orchestrates circumstances that enable him to escort Sylvester Stallone to his seat for a Rocky movie premier. Incredible!
In recent weeks I have had the pleasure of interviewing Felice via email. Without further ado…
Felice: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my book with you. Rocky Spirit, The Rocky Balboa Connection to Success is my true story about an “everyman” and my quest to go the distance in life to understand the true meaning of the Rocky Spirit in our universe.
The inspirational story is a roadmap to assist people to tap into their inner champion. It promotes that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to utilizing your own power, passion, purpose and perseverance. These inner strengths exist within us all.
The story is unique because it connects multiple life lessons to one of the most iconic movie franchises of all-time and its main character, Rocky Balboa. Millions of people from around the world know about or can relate to the famous saga of what I consider to be the greatest underdog story.
Readers will enjoy and become astonished by the uncanny connections that my life has had to these films. Each connection, like pieces of a puzzle led to my understanding the true meaning of the Rocky Spirit. It is a goal to share the story with others to help men, women and children overachieve or overcome what is present in their lives, so they can discover their own inner Rocky.
Glenda: Through the years there have been countless movies made about an underdog overcoming obstacles and ultimately, triumphing. What do you feel it is about the Rocky movies – and in particular, the scene of him running up the steps – that resonates with millions of people around the world?
Felice: The steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art have become one of the most iconic and energy-filled landmarks in the world. There is an important reason why people run up the steps and thrust their arms upward into the sky in triumph every day.
The 72 steps at this location represent every man’s challenge in life to make it to the top. The original film did a wonderful job by showing the main character’s struggle to run them at first. Then through hard work and determination, Rocky raced up the steps. He extended his arms in victory as a sign of inner strength.
This energizing scene gives people the belief that they too can reach the top step in life and accomplish their dreams. Since a visit to this historic movie location is easy to attain, each visitor adds to the power, energy and spirit that is forever present in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love.
The Rocky Steps have played a major roll in my life and story. The location has even given me a special gift, a glance into its energy. I now have the ability to share its power with the world through the platform of my book.
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Glenda: I have heard actress, comedienne and screenwriter Emma Thompson describe how she handwrites her screenplays, sitting at a clutter-free desk and using a favourite pen from her Dad. It sounds very idyllic to me. What is your writing process like? Is it as idyllic as Emma’s?
Felice: Rocky Spirit also has a lot to do with my father. His spirit is present and his photograph hangs behind me where I sit to write at my computer. I draw inspiration from life’s lessons, which I learn every day.
My process is to formulate my thoughts and get the words on screen. When I am done, I go back multiple times to adjust, organize or make changes. I have a strong belief that the right words will eventually materialize.
I will never forget the struggle to get the first draft of my book written. One night, I decided to stop and get some rest because the words were not flowing. I woke up at 2 a.m. with almost every word clearly present in my mind. I immediately got up and typed away for more than seven hours straight as the words kept coming out. This is what helped me structure the main part of my story.
In my case, persistence, perseverance and the desire to never give up has allowed me to write and produce a book that is already motivating and inspiring readers. It is no wonder where I learned those traits from. My goal is to have a worldwide reach with my message.
Glenda: Many of my friends have written books and have debated whether to self publish or to go the traditional publisher route. Why did you opt to self publish? What advice do you have for authors who are leaning in that direction?
Felice: The self-publishing industry and the Internet have had a major effect on the world of publishing. As an “unknown” author, I felt that by having a completed project in hand, it would be the best way to get the attention needed.
Self-publishing has the advantage of getting the product out quicker. There are some excellent support services available with the packages offered. This route has given me a chance to go the distance and get the story into the hands of readers around the world. Ironically, my quest to get this book written, produced and now distributed has become the new “Rocky story” in my life.
My advice to others is that they know their goals, understand their resources and have a plan. Remember that getting a deal to be traditionally published will take some time but delivers tremendous distribution and public relation benefits along with great support. By getting started through self-publishing, a first-time author can potentially open the door to become traditionally published. If you choose to go the self-publishing route, my advice is to know what you are getting as part of the services offered and review the fine print in the contract.
I have truly enjoyed the self-publishing method. I am proud of my book and the work that iUniverse, one the largest self-publishers in the world, have afforded me. Their initial review of the book and suggestions to take it to the next level was extremely valuable in getting me to the finish line.
The experience of self-publishing and producing my book was truly another connection to the Rocky story every step of the way. It was not easy but it was worth it.
Glenda: What are you hoping people will gain by reading Rocky Spirit?
Felice: My initial goal for the book was simple. I stated: “If I could change just one person’s life in a positive way then I would consider myself a success.” It just so happened that during the first week of the book’s release, a childhood friend’s 11-year-old son downloaded it on his Kindle. After the young man read the book for the second time within a week, I received a message stating that it changed his life. You can only imagine my feeling upon hearing those exact words. I achieved my goal within the very first week.
This is exactly what I hope for people while reading this book. I would like to make a positive difference in many lives through the spirit of Rocky. I trust that people will follow their own dreams and passions toward personal success. I look forward to getting their emails and messages because I feed off of their energy. I have already received a large number of positive responses. It is incredible that it is all happening right before my eyes.
I would want readers to know that anything is possible if they follow their passion and faith.
Glenda: How has writing and then launching your book impacted or even changed your life?
Felice: It has been one of the greatest experiences, ever. The book is opening new doors for me every day. It has given me the ability to connect with thousands of like-minded people worldwide. I am confident that I will connect with many more.
What amazes me is how so many of us share similar goals even though everyone’s passions are different. Every day I learn more about people, including friends and family that I have known for years. The book allows us to connect on new and different levels. I enjoy helping people follow their dreams.
I am especially proud of the positive effect the story has had on children and young adults. While writing the book, I made sure that the content was clean and wholesome, proving that you can produce a great story in this manner. This can promote a healthy change in our society.
In regards to impact and change, I am ready and prepared to accept a role in life to be a strong motivator and communicator. I am looking forward to utilizing one of my passions to connect and assist others around the world.
Glenda: What is next for you?
Felice: Right now all of my efforts are on the distribution and promotion of the book. Ironically, I am the underdog in the book business world. Being an unknown author makes it difficult but I will never give up on my goal of getting Rocky Spirit out to as many people as possible.
I continue to focus on a “million-to-one shot” of turning my Rocky Spirit story into a true Rocky story. As the book climbs up the charts, the goal will always be to get to the top of those steps. When I am successful, we will all raise our arms in victory.
Some of my next plans are to produce an audio book version of the story and a motivational speaking package. I also have a strong website idea that I am preparing to introduce that connects well with my story.
The last words in my book are…“to be continued.” I know there is another amazing story just waiting to be lived and then written. I have a lot dreams, confidence and plenty of Rocky Spirit in my life. I will do whatever it takes to reach my goals.
One last thing: I would love to own a black 1979 Pontiac Trans Am. It would be a wonderful symbol of personal success for me!
Thank you Glenda it has been an honor to have met you.
Glenda: Felice, I would like to sincerely thank you, both for being a part of that day in Philly, a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and for taking time for this interview.
I wish you every success with your book, and in acquiring your 1979 Trans Am. If anyone can make that happen, you can.
I’ve added “Ride in Felice’s Trans Am” to my bucket list!
Readers, Rocky Spirit is available for instant download onto your Kindle. To assist Felice in spreading the word about his inspiring book, please be sure to Like, tag and review his book on Amazon. Watch for details on how to like, tag and review in my next post.
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