Angelina Kalahari

"Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself." by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Tag: spirituality

Under A Namibian Sky

Under A Namibian Sky

Under A Namibian Sky  is now available on Amazon.

UK https://tinyurl.com/ycsc6e3k

US https://tinyurl.com/y8h479a8

Or from here for £8.75 with free delivery in the UK only.
£3.99 postage for orders worldwide.


Under A Namibian Sky – Paperback


***

I’d be delighted if you’d be so kind as to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads, telling me what you thought of Under A Namibian Sky. Reviews are really important. Not only do they tell other potential readers what to expect from a novel, but they also allow the novel to live in the world. It means I’ll be able to continue to write more stories for you.

You can also read more about Under A Namibian Sky here: http://circleofbooks.com/2017/09/05/under-a-namibian-sky-by-angelina-kalahari/

You can reach me directly at angelina@angelinakalahari.com or at angelinasbooks@hotmail.com. Please bear with me if I don’t respond straight away. I endeavour to respond to each email.

***

THE LAUNCH

 

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the launch of Under A Namibian Sky. Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m excited to introduce Under A Namibian Sky to you.

I know this bit usually goes at the end, but I’d like to thank all the amazing people who have helped Under A Namibian Sky to become a satisfying novel for readers. It takes teamwork.

So, to my amazing editor, Christine, thank you so much. You asked all the difficult questions that made me dig deeper.

Thank you to my great beta readers for the amazing job you guys have done. Writing can be a lonely process and a scary one once you give your baby to someone else to read for the first time. Thank you for giving your honest feedback and notes in a kind and encouraging manner. It means the world.

And I don’t even know how to begin to thank the insanely talented and generous Sharon Brownlie for the perfect cover for Under A Namibian Sky. Not only did she capture the mood of the book, but also the characters’ personalities – no mean feat! Not only that, but she did the formatting. I told you she was talented. Check out the cover on my page.

Covers designed and sold by me

So, what is Under A Namibian Sky about? It’s essentially a contemporary romance. It’s the story of Luca and Naomi and it’s set in Namibia.

Briefly, Naomi’s parents died when she was five. After being shunted from foster parents to foster parents, she was understandably traumatised, to say the least. No one had really taken the time to explain to her that her parents had died and no one had seemed to realise that she needed to grieve. As a result, she’d locked up her emotions and carried a deep and abiding fear of loving anyone else in case she’d again lose them to death.

But her grandmother’s best friend, Auntie Elsa, eventually adopted Naomi. She went to live with her and her husband, Uncle Wouter, at Desert Lodge. The lodge bordered on the Namib Desert and when she was old enough, Naomi was allowed to play with the San tribe’s children there. They taught her about the desert, about what plants were safe to eat and where to find water. This led to her working as a desert guide at the lodge when she became old enough.

Luca, on the other hand, comes from a very privileged background – the Armati supercar dynasty in Italy. He is the heir apparent. But Luca has other hobbies that he’s passionate about. One of which is photographing and painting elephants. His secretary, Santina, who has taken care of him since he was a child when his mother left them, arranged a holiday in Namibia so that he could fulfil his dream and take a break from work at the same time.

Luca immediately recognises how different Naomi is from the models he usually hangs out with. But she assumes he is just another one of the rich ‘princes’ who makes everyone’s lives hell for as long as they’re on holiday at the lodge.

I don’t want to give too much away but I will say this – Under A Namibian Sky has many twists and turns. A sneak peek is when Luca and Naomi come in contact with a tiny new born elephant. They help to rescue her when her mother is killed by poachers.

***

Namibia holds a special place in my heart because it is where I was born. The setting is perfect for romance, danger, spirituality and love.

THE COVER

As I said in the introduction, the cover was designed by the multi-talented Sharon Brownlie.

Covers are really important because they’re “the picture that paints a thousand words,” as the lyrics of one of my favourite Bread songs says. Or in the case of a novel, thousands of words!

I saw one of Sharon’s pre-made covers with a couple that looked exactly like Luca and Naomi. I couldn’t believe it. Usually, it’s impossible to get a picture that looks exactly like the couple in your head. But there they were.

Luca, as he appeared to me, is tall, athletic and although aristocratic, has a somewhat devil-may-care boyishness about him. A kind of Richard Branson vibe, if you like.

Naomi, also tall and athletic, is independent and strong and I feel the figure on the cover depicts her somewhat stubborn streak perfectly.

Neither Sharon nor I imagined Luca and Naomi to be in silhouette, to begin with, but realised that the night sky would have no light source to show them in any other way.

The picture of the sky that Sharon used, is an actual picture of the night sky over the Namib Desert. The fact that it has a purple tint, is a hint of the spirituality behind the fact that Luca and Naomi are soul mates.

In the distance, you can see the mother and the baby elephant that played such a big part in their relationship. Because Naomi had reluctantly allowed Luca to accompany her on the ellie’s rescue mission, he then invited her out for dinner. Perhaps without that initial dinner, who knows if they’d ever got together?

Again, I’d like to thank everyone who helped choose the elements for the perfect cover.

THE BLURB

Blurbs are important. They’re usually the first thing people read when they’re thinking about buying a book and so, a lot of thought goes into writing one. Here is the blurb for Under A Namibian Sky:

Beautiful, vivacious, independent young Naomi grew up on the edge of the Namib Desert. After she becomes a safari guide, nothing is more exciting than showing off her desert’s fierceness, its raw beauty, and its exotic wildlife to guests staying at Desert Lodge.

Luca, the heir apparent to the Armati supercar dynasty, is blessed with the beauty of an Italian god and born to a life of wealth, power, and influence. In Namibia for a short holiday, he wants to fulfil his dream of photographing and painting African elephants.

Used to the wiles of such spoiled princelings, Naomi is suspicious of his motives. Begrudgingly, she feels drawn to his kindness, charm and aura. Impossibly, it appears he is equally drawn to the girl from the African desert.

But will the pain of their past experiences prevent them from being courageous enough to admit their soul mate connection? Will their love overcome the challenges they face when Luca ends up in hospital after a dangerous anti-poacher raid, and Naomi has to confront her fears about falling in love with him?

Compulsively readable, Under A Namibian Sky is an emotionally riveting romance that will enchant, fascinate and delight.

THE CHARACTERS

As I don’t want to spoil it for you, I’ll talk only about Luca and Naomi. I may post something on another day about some of the other characters.

Writing her, Naomi made me feel compassion and fury almost in equal amounts. I was sad for her that she was so traumatised as a little girl by the loss of her parents and by being moved from foster home to foster home. She was unloved and felt like a failure when she couldn’t make her new families love her. She was too young to understand death and what was happening to her. But her deep-seated fear that everyone she loved would die, stopped her from loving others when it’s so clear that it’s what she craved.

When she developed feelings for Luca, she talked herself out of those. I couldn’t believe that she would be prepared to give up such a love for fear that death would take her from him. But she was stubborn! It would take another traumatic event in her life to let her see the light at last.

Luca, on the other hand, having been abandoned by his mother when he was eight, regarded women with a healthy dose of suspicion. What made it worse, was that the beautiful models who he was used to having in his life, were mostly after his money and fame. But he realised pretty early on, that Naomi was nothing like them. He saw her strength, her independence, her vulnerability and her genuineness.

But when he overheard her saying something to her friend that he was rich and could have any woman he wants, he freaked out. It was a phrase he’d heard too many times.

It took a very distressing situation for him to realise that he loved Naomi and couldn’t imagine being without her.

These characters never stopped talking. I had no choice but to write them down!

THE SETTING

As I’d already mentioned, Namibia is very special to me. It’s the country of my birth and although I haven’t been there for many years, I know it’s the kind of unspoilt place – for the most part – that doesn’t change. It feels good to know that something can be that constant, especially in this crazy fast-paced world we live in, right?

Desert Lodge is based on a real lodge near the desert. The people and the place will always live in my heart, no matter where in the world I find myself.

Like Naomi, I was lucky enough to have had children from the San tribes to play with when I was a little girl. They taught me about the desert. About which plants were poisonous, which were good to eat, how to find water, which insects were a good source of protein, and which to avoid if you wanted to keep your eyes! So, these are the things I share with Naomi.

The Namib Desert is vast. It’s silent. It’s unearthly beautiful. Parts of it has featured in Hollywood movies, and parts of it have become a source of joy for people seeking action-adventure holidays.

It is this aspect that Desert Lodge eventually adopts as well. But until then, they offer only sunrise and sunset safaris with desert guides in a truck or the odd walking safari with one of the anti-poacher guards employed to keep the wildlife safe.

Here is a short video that shows how San hunter/gatherers find water in the desert.

WHY ROMANCE?

Under A Namibian Sky is a romance novel and one I hope you’ll all enjoy reading. The funny things is, I never thought of myself as a romance writer. My staple go-to genres have always been science-fiction, fantasy, psychological thrillers and horror. Those genres, of course, sometimes include romance as well. Yet, whenever I sit down to write something, romance is what comes out. It puzzled me until I analysed it and the truth dawned on me.

This is where my thinking led me:

The point that immediately sprang to mind is that we all want love. I’d go so far as to say, we crave it. When we read a romance novel, we experience the feelings of love through the characters in a way that may not exist in our everyday lives. It gives us that high, that hope that the love we yearn for, is possible for us as well. It helps to renew our belief in love. We live in a world filled with pain, divorces, disasters, acts of violence and war. When we read a romance novel, we reconnect with the idea of love, with the idea that there is something higher than the pain and discontent that pours daily from our TV screens or from social media. For readers who have not yet experienced a soul mate love, reading a romance novel can open them up to what that might feel like and how worthwhile a pursuit it can be for them. After all, as one of my characters in Under A Namibian Sky says: “In the end, love is all we have.”

At the other end of the spectrum is the fact that human beings and human relationships are complex. Stories are a safe way to explore those complexities and can even help us to deal with our own issues.

There are many other reasons why romance novels are important, but the fact that it can also be a form of entertainment is not to be sneezed at. When a reader with a demanding job, or a mum who is pulled in many different directions, read a romance novel, it’s a great way to just relax, have fun and escape from the daily grind.

Of course, even though nowadays romance novels are widely accepted, there are still people who turn up their noses at the thought of reading one. The idea that these novels are unrealistic at best – who really gets the happily ever after, right? – or at worst, that such novels are “trashy,” “titillating” or “fluffy,” and inferior to other genres, is still very much the perception, especially of those who do not read romances. (Interestingly, opponents of romance novels, often overlook the fact that classics such as Jane Austin’s books are the most sigh-worthy romances. I assume it’s because her books are “older” that it doesn’t count?)

And yet, the romance genre is the biggest selling genre in the book world. Why? Why do we read them?

I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts about why romance novels are important to you?

WHY UNDER A NAMIBIAN SKY?

Late one night, several months ago, I was watching a programme on TV about Mills and Boon (Harlequin to some of you.)

The programme looked at how difficult it is to write a good romance novel. How so many people have tried and failed.

The programme followed the journey of a traditionally published mystery writer going through the process of writing a romance novel. She went on away days with other romance writers, writer’s circles and writer’s workshops led by successful Mills and Boon authors at great settings. They filmed her at home making notes on her white board, writing, re-writing, getting frustrated and re-writing. Eventually, she handed in the manuscript to Mills and Boons offices here in London.

I never learned what happened to her novel. But having read a number of romance novels through the years, I wondered if I could write one.

I went on their website to learn more about what they’re looking for and discovered that they were actively looking for novels set in Southern Africa. Well, I was born in Namibia and while I’ve lived all over the world, the country of my birth will always live in my heart. There is a saying that once you have felt the Namibian sands beneath your feet, your feet will always walk you back to those sands. It’s a rough translation, but I think you get the gist. I’ll add to it that once you have Africa in your heart, she is a jealous mistress and will hold you to her bosom – you can never escape her arms.

So, it was a no-brainer for me to set my novel in Namibia. I know the place like the back of my hand. It’s one of the few places on earth where things don’t change, yet a desert is a place of ever-changing sameness. The sky over the desert, once you’ve seen it, will live in your heart and mind forever – it is breath-taking, yes, but more than that, it’s a most humbling experience. Its vastness reminds that we are a tiny part of something so big, we cannot comprehend it. The people are warm and friendly, and the animals are a reminder that the world offers more than concrete jungles and the rat race so many of us are only too familiar with. There is a deep peace, a unique calm that a place like Namibia offer, that you can’t find anywhere else on earth.

To cut a long story short, I wrote the required three chapters and submitted them along with a synopsis. A few weeks later, I received a long email from them, stating their interest in the novel and asking for specific changes. It was obvious from their email that they’d read the synopsis and the chapters. I felt encouraged and set about making the changes they’d asked for before running it past some of my beta readers. But after I’d re-submitted it, a few weeks later, I received a short email thanking me for my efforts but rejecting the novel. But rejection is a normal part of a writer’s life so it didn’t phase me.

By now, though, the characters lived in my head. They were talking to me, as characters are wont to do and they wouldn’t go away. There were other projects I wanted to work on but these guys wouldn’t let up. I had no choice but to finish the novel.

Luckily, the publishing world has changed so much now that Mills and Boon aren’t the only romance genre publishers.

That’s how Under A Namibian Sky came to live in the world today.

INTERESTING NAMIBIAN FACT #1

Namibia is a very large country – Namibia is more than a third larger than the UK and Germany combined or twice the size of California. It has rich deposits of diamonds, uranium and other minerals that are already being extracted extensively. There are 11 main ethnic groups living there.

INTERESTING NAMIBIAN FACT #2

What is a desert? To most people, it is a hot, dry area with little or no vegetation and often covered in sand dunes. Even though this may be an adequate definition of a desert, hot and dry are not specific enough to be scientifically accepted. Scientists use the measurement of rain, or rather the lack of it, to define deserts because water is the critical factor which controls all life and biological processes. According to such classification of deserts, the Namib is hyper-arid as it has a mean rainfall of less than 100mm per year. It is amazing that the Namib is a desert at all since north of it, Angola is subtropical and south, the Cape of Good Hope has copious winter rainfall. But the unique high-pressure zones and the cold ocean currents that border it has created the Namib Desert.

We know that the Namib Desert is old and could have been semi-arid to arid for about the last 80million years with true desert conditions predominating the last 15 – 20 million years.

INTERESTING NAMIBIAN FACT #3

Fairy circles – there is a peculiar unexplained phenomenon along the edge of the Namib desert commonly known as fairy circles. Unusually named they occur on sandy planes and on vegetated dune slopes. Scientists suggest that the fairy circles may, in fact, be termites which have eaten all the grass seeds in the vicinity of their nests.

INTERESTING NAMIBIAN FACT #4

What is the origin and meaning of Namib? The word is of Nama origin. It translates literally from Nama as “a bare plain” and means “the vast place of nothingness.”

 

Thank you so much for joining me today. I trust you enjoyed the launch of Under A Namibian Sky as much as I have.

I’m currently writing a novella in the Desert Love Series telling of Luca and Naomi’s life in Italy. It’s called Love In Modena, and you will receive a free copy when you sign up to my email list when it is finished.

I’d be very interested to know what kind of stories you would like me to write? Let me know what kind of characters you’d like, what obstacles and what setting – I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you again so much for spending time with me.

 

What is gratitude and why is it important?

 

gratitude-300x300

According to the Oxford Dictionary, gratitude is the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

But what is it really?

“Robert Emmons, perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, argues that gratitude has two key components, which he describes in an essay, Why Gratitude is Good.”

You can read all about his ideas, here http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/gratitude/definition

The reason I wanted to write something about Gratitude today is because I feel 2016 was such a strange year. Well, for me, anyway.

Of course, good things have happened to many people, including to me. I published my children’s novel, George And The Gargoyle Who Lived In The Garden in 2016 and I was supported by so many lovely readers who bought it. The novel was even bought by the central library in Enfield, which means that it is available for loan throughout London. I was able to buy my gorgeous new car, my Abarth, that I’d been wanting for ages. My wonderful students have achieved great things which made me very proud. I have been blessed to have amazing friends in my life and I feel that my relationships have deepened with those people who are very important in my life.

I’m truly grateful for things like the fact that I am healthy for the most part, I can move around freely, I can breathe fresh air, I can see, hear, speak, I have a lovely warm home, I have enough food to eat every day, etc. I’m still here and I get another go at another day, and hopefully, another year

For all of those things, and more, I am extremely grateful.

But…

I feel the world has entered a rather darker phase now than I have ever seen before. Strange political events, terrorist activities, the refugee crisis and war has contributed to make me feel this way. It is difficult to remain grateful in the face of such events. As someone who leans towards the metaphysical truths in life, I know that even these disturbing events have their place, but the human, three-dimensional part of me, can’t quite get my head around the state of the world at the moment.

The fact that so many of our great icons, like Alan Rickman, Rick Parfitt, David Bowie, Prince, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn, Pete Burns, Terry Wogan, Gene Wilder, Caroline Aherne, Muhammad Ali, Victoria Wood, David Guest, Carrie Fisher and George Michael died last year, among so many other great people, makes me wonder if they all left because they know something we don’t.

The craziness of life can be overwhelming and then, feeling gratitude may be the last thing on our minds, but I feel that gratitude is very important because it allows us to turn bad things and obstacles into opportunities. Gratitude also turns what we have into enough.

Even though some scary things have to carry on from 2016, I trust that 2017 will bring clarity, joy and good fortune to us all. And lots of things to feel grateful for.

Journey to Hong Kong

download

I’m a traveller. I LOVE visiting other countries, other cultures, other peoples, as in my recent journey to Hong Kong.

But travelling isn’t only the physical acts of booking a holiday, booking the flights, hotels, cars, etc., packing a bag, arriving at the airport and checking in on the right day at the right time. Nor is it the anticipation and the excitement that precedes the journey.

No, journeys are far more important. A journey is also an emotional and spiritual expansion. That, more than anything, is what fascinates me about travelling.

We change and grow and evolve from moment to moment, of course. Each interaction with another leaves us forever changed. But nothing speeds up our growth and expansion in the way that travelling to another part of the world does, at least for me.

IMG-20151231-WA0014  IMG-20151231-WA0017  IMG-20151231-WA0013

Years ago, I lived in Hong Kong for nearly eight wonderfully crazy years. That was more than eighteen years ago, now. But I had an opportunity to spend Christmas 2015 there, and became enthralled again by its unexpected beauty among the many high rises, the glittering gems of its many lights at night, its otherworldliness, its uncommon smells, its fast paced materialism, and its perpetual spirituality. Hong Kong remains, for me, a contradiction, a mystery, a home.

hong-kong-skyline_251313    images

The day before I was to return to the UK, I had an opportunity to visit the big Buddha. Talk about journeys! I went with my husband and members of his family by cable car, and that journey alone was worth the effort of getting there. It felt as though we were leaving Hong Kong far behind as we travelled over a vast area of unspoilt trees and vegetation far below us. A small footpath snaked through the undergrowth where, every now and then, a brightly coloured speck was the only evidence of brave souls venturing towards the big Buddha on foot.

20151230_150639  20151230_145124  IMG-20151231-WA0085

For us, the cable car journey went on, and on, over several hills until finally, there stood the Buddha, enshrouded in a light mist, a guardian over Hong Kong, hands extended in blessing before him. It was a breathtaking and otherworldly vision, indeed, which intensified the nearer we went.

20151230_151351 (1)  20151230_170059   20151230_163157

En route, through the small shopping centre, where all sorts of Buddha paraphernalia could be bought as treasures to take home, a small theatre presented shows about Buddha’s life and philosophy.

IMG-20151231-WA0038

Then, after the long walk, where sacred cows approached the tourists for snacks, we encountered the many steps that lead up to the big Buddha’s statue, the steps, a symbol perhaps of the effort it takes to reach enlightenment. I was certainly winded and relieved to reach the top.
IMG-20151231-WA0053

The atmosphere around the statue was surprisingly serene despite the hordes of tourists visiting the place. By the time we left, I felt thoroughly imbued with a sense of calm, peace, and renewed strength for whatever the journey of 2016 might bring, and a serene kind of happiness that made me smile at strangers for no apparent reason.

Afterwards, on the way back down to the cable car, I had the opportunity to add my wishes and prayers to the prayer tree that 2016 will be a wonderful year for us all in the Year of the Fire Monkey.

But once home in London, I wanted the feeling of peace, contentment and happiness to continue, and came upon a book I felt might be able to help me to not only understand it, but to sustain it. The book is called “Happiness, a guide to developing life’s most important skill.” It was written by Matthieu Ricard.

A scientist turned Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard presents interesting points and words of wisdom on the state of happiness – well worth a read, and it does not matter whether or not you are a Buddhist – I am not – or even harbour spiritual beliefs.

Happiness

Basically, the book is a reminder of the fact that we get so entangled and bogged down in our journey towards whatever it is we think will make us happy, that we often can’t find it. But the irony is that happiness is an internal job – a state of mind – and not at all dependent on anything external. A great reminder, indeed.

Happiness, I find, is rather a good goal to have for 2016!

© 2017 Angelina Kalahari

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑