I fell in love. With some art.

About six months ago, with my limited Photoshop skills, I designed a book cover for my novel, Return to Lemuria and I wasn’t happy. Finding and designing a book cover for a novel must be one of the most frustrating things to do! As an author, you want it to resonate with the story, depict a sense of what it is you are writing about and project an enticing visual interest for a potential reader. It should also work well as a thumbnail (for Amazon and other digital covers).

As I neared completion of my story, I became increasingly frustrated, as I couldn’t find or really design what I really wanted. And then I found a piece of art and I fell in love. Instantly. It was a magical piece of a woman looking up at a beam of light with her hands in a full lotus mudra. It glowed with a powerful energy that spoke to me as if it was designed specifically for my story. The artist painted a beautiful picture . I found the artist’s name, Eric Nez, at the bottom of the piece and then the hunt began. I found a beautiful video of the artist at work. I was amazed at his skill, painting an exquisite piece exclusively with spray brushes. I then managed to track him down on Facebook, sent him a friend request and a personal message requesting the use of his art for the cover of my novel. A week or so later, he accepted my friend request but did not respond to my message. After several more messages, he finally responded, approving the use of his art in return for $100. I immediately accepted his proposal and requested his details so that I could settle the amount owing. Several weeks went by and he never responded, despite many more messages and posts to his Facebook wall. I began to lose hope.

And then I received a friend request from someone who was Facebook friends with Eric. I accepted her request and sent her a message, asking her for assistance. She told me that she regretfully could not help me because Eric had no cellphone or bank account! She told me to continue attempting to reach him via Facebook. I continued to send message after message but to no avail. I was beginning to lose hope once again. A few weeks later, I came across another Facebook friend of Eric’s and this time, he promised to do what he could to help. He went on to tell me that Eric was a hermit and seldom saw him. He confirmed that Eric did not own a cellphone or a bank account. I was amazed, but on closer reflection, felt envious of someone who turned his back on technology and disconnected himself from society to live a life where he could express his passion through art.

Finally, after convincing him that he was a real part of my story, this friend of Eric’s agreed to accept a bank cheque on Eric’s behalf but would not give me his banking details either! I spent over an hour in the bank yesterday obtaining what is called a bank draft (similar to a cheque) for $100. The teller told me that she met her quota for drafts for the year as it is a form of payment that is very seldom used any longer! LOL! I have now sent the draft via registered mail to the US where this friend of Eric’s hopes to see him at the end of the year to settle my debt.

The hard work invested in finally getting the rights to use this artwork for my book cover has a lot of meaning for me. It proves that, just like my story, hard work pays off.

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Once I caught a fish…

You know that weird sense of looking at the spelling of a word for too long or saying it out loud too many times so that it begins to make no sense? I have developed the same kind of feeling when writing down numbers. Up until recently, I have not had much concern when writing numbers as numbers or numbers as text. I.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or one, two three, four, five. Soon after I started writing Return To Lemuria, however, I realised that consistency was key. It is important to maintain consistency in your writing so as not to confuse the reader. An example is the metric vs imperial system. Then there’s numbers. I learnt that it’s important to spell numbers out where possible instead of writing down the numerals. For example it’s better to write out one instead of 1 in a sentence. Having said this, there are many exceptions and no golden rule. E.g. it is commonly accepted to write out the time as 5.00pm but it looks and sounds better to write five o’clock in the afternoon. For more info on the use of numbers in grammar, check out this link.

That weird sense of writing numbers now comes into play… Because I have trained myself to consistently look out for writing numerical numbers in my writing over the past year, every time that I write a number as a number, it looks odd. Like it’s wrong. And so I change it to text and it feels and looks better. It’s weird because I never really had much of a preference in the past… #realworldproblems

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Get It Here

My first magazine review in Get It Mag. #publicity #review. More reviews here.

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Off the Grid

Meme. An image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations. I came across one of these memes recently that put things into perspective. It was a snapshot of 5 bicycles lying haphazardly on a piece of lawn in front of a house. The meme read: This was how we used to know where our friends were playing, implying that nowadays we use electronic communication to do the same thing. It also implies that before Facebook and Whatstapp, kids were more sociable and spent more time outdoors, doing physical exercise.

Today, most of us are permanently connected to the digital communication network in some form or other. From our mobile phones, laptops and even televisions, our attention is constantly in demand. Even kids are connected to the web via iPads from their early years. And it seems as if this trend is not declining…

So what do we do? How do we find balance for both our kids and ourselves in this digital maelstrom?

I had the fortunate opportunity to get off the grid last week and I highly recommend it. 11 of us converged on the Tsitsikama Nature Reserve near Plettenburg Bay in South Africa. It’s an incredible part of the world teeming with wildlife, freshly flowing rivers and thick, indigenous forest. We set out on a 5-day hike called The Otter Trail, along the coast, stopping at wooden huts each day to rest our aching muscles. The best part of all of this, is that there’s no reception. Nada. One if my mates that was with us runs a mobile business. He confessed that he had not disconnected for 15 years! You can just imagine how liberated he felt!

I believe that it’s vitally important to regularly disconnect from the digital world in order to break the pattern of confinement that we often finds ourselves in. This experience gave us all the opportunity to really appreciate nature, each other and life in general. It helped many of us reflect on ourselves and those around us. For some, it was a life-changing experience that I’m certain will create positive change to the way in which we conduct our lives going forward. Whether it’s diet, exercise or an overall awareness of our actions in the real world, even the smallest change creates a ripple that impacts on our immediate environment.

The lesson? Get out more. Explore this beautiful planet we call home. Disconnect from the Grid.

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Feeling Lucky?

It’s competition time! I’m giving away 20 books via Goodreads.com. Simply click the link below to enter.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Return To Lemuria by Richard Gradner

Return To Lemuria

by Richard Gradner

Giveaway ends December 24, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

SF

OK, so the first thing that comes to mind when you see SF is Science Fiction, right? Well it is for me in any event. Yes, Return To Lemuria may have elements of science fiction but my understanding of science fiction novels are the ones that involve stories of space exploration, robots and aliens, of which my novel bears no similarity at all.

Just recently, my wife Adele came across a genre that I believe perfectly defines my novel, Return To Lemuria. It’s called Speculative Fiction. The irony is that world-renowned science fiction author, Robert Heinlein is attributed this genre, who coined it a 1947 editorial essay. Speculative fiction is a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.

Return To Lemuria has all of this and more. It’s a story set in the present day but draws on the plausible existence of the descendants of an ancient, highly advanced civilisation, that lived on a continent in the pacific that disappeared at the time of the last ice age, over 12,000 years ago. It’s an action-packed thriller of a tale, filled with adventure, mystery and intrigue. For a free sample, reviews or to purchase a paperback or digital edition, please visit richardgradner.com

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Launched!

Thank You friends and family for your support at my birthday-book launch. Over 30 books sold! Enjoy the adventure. Looking forward to your feedback. Please visit richardgradner.com to leave your comments and feedback.

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Q&A’s with Richard

I recently created an Author’s profile on Goodreads.com. To improve the quality of my profile, I was prompted to answer 6 questions…
1. How do you deal with writer’s block?
RG: Change. Change the scenery. Have a drink (a proper drink), then start writing. Write without thinking and then look over your work for inspirational, out-the-box ideas.2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?
RG: Finding something passionate and fulfilling to take up time that would otherwise be wasted on mundane stuff.
3. What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
RG: Put the framework for your story together and stick to it. Lauren Beukes gave me the best advice when I started writing. She said “finish your story”. In other words, don’t mess about with marketing or anything else, rather stick to finishing the story first. You gotta keep your eye on the ball. If you busy yourself with other stuff in the middle of writing, then you lose focus and momentum which makes it that much harder to start writing again. Be consistent. Write at the same time and place.
4. What are you currently working on?
RG: I’m currently working on the framework for my next novel.
5. How do you get inspired to write?
RG: Inspiration doesn’t come easy. Most of the time you just have to put your head down, start writing and get into the story. Once you bury yourself in the detail, the inspiration flows. It’s important to work within a framework instead of just writing blind. This gives you a set of goals or milestones to work towards within the story. Sometimes an exciting piece of the story becomes an inspirational drawcard so you write until you reach it and then the passion really flows.
6. Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
RG: So much of the same stuff has been written about that what I really wanted was to create something different. Something unique. I read a book once, long ago, about the Lemurian civilisation so I decided to use it as a basis for my story. It just works. I believe that it speaks to people today. It’s filled with mystery, intrigue, prophecy, crime, spirituality, adventure and suspense. It’s best described as a new-age, dystopian thriller. Dan Brown meets James Redfield.
Here’s the link to the page.
GR

Dystopia

Return To Lemuria is a work of fiction. It took me quite a while to classify the true genre of the story due to its varied themes and ideas. The story switches from present day to 12,000 years ago and back again. It’s main theme centers around the descendants of a long, lost civilisation who are intent at taking over the world. This is where Dystopia fits in.

I believe that the following quote from Wikipedia best describes what I am alluring to in the genre of my novel:

Dystopia is defined as a society characterized by a focus on negative societies such as mass poverty, public mistrust, police state, squalor, suffering, or oppression, that society has most often brought upon itself.[1] Most authors of dystopian fiction explore at least one reason why things are that way, often as an analogy for similar issues in the real world. In the words of Keith M. Booker, dystopian literature is used to “provide fresh perspectives on problematic social and political practices that might otherwise be taken for granted or considered natural and inevitable”.

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Book Launch Book Launch

Be the first to get a signed, printed copy of my debut novel, Return To Lemuria, a dystopian thriller about the descendants of a mythical civilisation that flourished over 12,000 years ago. The book launch will take place at La Perla Bar in Sea Point, Cape Town, from 6pm on Saturday 15 November 2014. I will be selling books at R100 each on the night (50% off the list price.) Please click here and fill in your details to reserve a discounted book (only Cape Town residents) if you cannot make it to the event. Click here to read a sample copy.

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