Sometimes dreams come true. Sometimes you just have to wait for 35 years for them to happen.
Lew Gravis, College Transfer instructor for Sampson Community College has an affinity for writing. After all, Gravis won an award for writing in fourth grade for his poetry, another award for his writing in high school, re-scripted Star Wars to make a short film starring his own family in 1977 and wrote articles for his high school newspaper. Even within the past couple of years his work has been published hundreds of times by Lurn, a digital publishing company whose mission is to draw Internet readers through search engine optimization marketing.
But his novel was always his real passion. When Gravis was sixteen, he began writing his book To Kill For A Fortune. The story is about a son who seeks revenge on his rich father while falling in love with a woman that could cost him his life. After a year, the book was complete and several years after, he contacted numerous publishing companies before finding one in Canada that agreed to publish the novel. Just before it hit the presses, the publisher went bankrupt. Disappointed by this, fifteen years would pass before he would pursue his dreams of having it published.
“To get your hopes up about finally being able to hold your own work in your hands and see it and flip through it,” said Gravis. “And to have that ripped out from under you at such a young age. I was devastated and really thought that I would just give up.”
He came a step closer in 2012. Now in the digital age, Gravis had to convert his work from the WordPerfect format used fifteen years prior and convert it to what we now know as Microsoft Word. This task wasn’t easy because he would have to first search for a rare computer that still had a floppy disk drive on it. After pushing through those obstacles, Gravis contacted Amazon.com and was able to get his work established in an eBook format after some minor tweaking. The novel had resided on Amazon and while he wasn’t able to hold a hard copy in his hands, he came to terms with seeing it digitally published.
Until now. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing contacted Gravis last month and said the door had been opened for electronic-only works to be published hard copy, with royalties and expenses shared by the publisher, for readers who prefer to read traditional books. Gravis agreed to the publishers deal. His only problem? Finding the copy he converted five years before. The eBook could not convert to the format the publisher needed. Once his book was installed electronically, Gravis had no need to keep the original handy thinking that was the end of it, so the search through his entire home was under way.
After digging through closets of clothes and various other belongings, he had found it! A flash drive with the Microsoft Word version of To Kill For A Fortune.
The next few days were spent preparing and transferring the book from the Word format to the publishers format for printing and finally, this week, after 35 years of waiting to hold his novel in his own hands, his dream has become a reality! To Kill For A Fortune is available in paperback.
This week, Gravis received his own copies and he’s not alone. A student, Sarah Sargent, was interested in a book published by someone she knew and bought her copy right away. “This is nice,” says Sargent. “I know it’s exciting for him and I like to support a local author.”
Gravis explains his motivation. “I hope if nothing else, it shows perseverance. Never quit or give up no matter what you become or where life takes you. It can happen,” he says. “I don’t care if I make a dime off the book. That was never the goal. The goal was to hold in my hand a real hard copy of a book that I wrote and I couldn’t be more proud to have achieved that.”
PHOTO: Gravis signs a copy of his newly published novel, To Kill For A Fortune for student Sarah Sargent.