Entries Tagged 'if You Don’t Get Hooked' ↓

I’M ON FULL POWER LIVING, THURSDAY FEBRUARY 12TH, 9AM PST

I’ll be discussing creativity and my novel Numenon with Ilene Dillon MSW. The Emotional Pro, Ilene is my favorite radio personality. CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE SHOW.  It’s live 9 to 10 AM tomorrow. Show will be archived on Ilene’s web site if you can’t make it.
An exciting video about Numenon. Click and be transported!

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NUMENON: A TALE OF MYSTICISM & MONEY A VIDEO!

At long last, a video flash of Numenon. What’s it all about?

NATIONAL AWARD WINNER: NUMENON won USA Book News' BEST BOOKS AWARD IN VISIONARY FICTION and THE INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARD for RELIGIOUS FICTION. "Five Stars! A fantasy set in the real world to draw readers in and never let them go, NUMENON is highly recommended to readers seeking modern fiction with fantastical elements." MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW NUMENON is available at sandynathan.com, on-line, & wherever books are sold. Get a free e-book by signing our mailing list: http://www.sandynathan.com/newsletter.htm

This is on animoto.com. The HTML is in there. If the link doesn't show up, CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE VIDEO.

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Amazon Bestseller Day Amazon Best Seller or Bust? Part 2

Hop on over to YOUR SHELF LIFE: How Long Will You Last? my blog for writers and authors, for the rest of this post.

Sandy Nathan, award winning author of NumenonSandy Nathan, award winning author of Numenon

I paid for my Amazon Bestseller Launch Day with ReaderViews on November 3, 2008. My Day was December 9th, a month and 6 days later. I was still on crutches after surgery as I leapt into the world of internet marketing.

“Drive traffic to your web site!”

“Drive customers to buy!”

“If you buy my book on February 31st, you will win $34,974,957 worth of prizes. In addition, we will match those gifts by reducing the national debt a trillion bucks!”

Hurrah! Hurrah! Step right up!

See what happens as I approach my Amazon Bestseller Day!

Sandy Nathan, award winning author of Numenon Sandy Nathan, now.

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WHAT DOES WINNING MEAN? Life lessons from horse shows for writers, readers, authors, horse people and other human beings

Sandy Nathan
Sandy Nathan, National Award Winning Author

A friend and I were catching up. She had been through some dramatic personal trials. I was surprised when she said, “I kept thinking about that horse show you wrote about where you worked really hard preparing, and you kept losing and losing and losing …”

That could be almost any of them, I thought.

“And then finally, at the end––you won the prize for the best barn in the show!”

Oh, yeah. That one.

I wrote about the show on my Rancho Vilasa web site and forgot about it.

A revisit to the article revealed that I wrote it ten years ago. My ten year old write-up gave her strength in facing the hurdles before her. Hmm.

This realization prompted musing about shelf life. What is the shelf life of our work? Our lives? Does shelf life matter? Those questions led to contemplation, and sparked an insight leading to a great surprise, which is coming …

I’m going to talk about winning in this article; in a coming article, I’ll talk about shelf life and the surprise. What’s below is not your standard 900word blog-blast of wisdom. It’s more like a chapter of a book. The book my agent wanted me to write. (Our first wisdom nugget: If you’ve got an agent do what she/he wants. Nuff said.)

Gabriela de Amanecer aka “Twiggy”        Rey de Corazones BSN “King of Hearts” known as Eddie around the barn.
Gabriela de Amanecer (Twiggy) & Rey de Corazones (Eddie)
Magnificent Peruvian Paso Horses. Can you tell that Twiggy is Eddie’s mom? We bred Eddie at Rancho Vilasa. Twiggy was a rescue horse. She came to us half starved. Part of her story appears in my book, Stepping Off the Edge.

We humans come here, into existence––”Hi, I’m here!”––to win. Which means to master the trials before us and turn into human beings that resemble our essential selves. We either do this, crack up, or end up bitter people we wouldn’t go on a second date with.

The larger kind of winning, becoming people we’d like to know can only come from having mastered trials and followed the good road. There’s a smaller kind of winning defined by prizes. This is a story about both.

You writers and associated book folk may read and say, “That’s very interesting, but what does it have to do with me? I’d never ride a horse in a show.” (Good for you, you’re growing already.) What you read here shows up in writers as beyond verging-on-the-insane, addicted behavior  clustered around a single word: publication.

“When I get published …” The eyes of perfectly intelligent scribblers go glassy as they say those words. “By a real publisher …” (What are  Dan Poynter and his self-publishing empire if not real?) I want those of you in the book trade to use some of your vaunted smarts and figure out: How does this apply to me?

In the service of human development, I present the following epic of angst and horseflesh. Many of my blog readers don’t know anything about the horsey part of me. They don’t know anything other than the carefully homogenized bio that got past my publicist.

WE LIVE ON A RANCH! YES, A REAL HORSE RANCH WITH HORSES AND LIFE AND DEATH AND SNAKES AND SKUNKS AND OTHER FEROCIOUS CREATURES!

GROUND SQUIRREL IN ATTACK MODE
We Live Among Them!
Ground squirrel in attack mode.

LOSE UNTIL YOU WIN: WHAT YOU REALLY WIN AT HORSE SHOWS

This is the story my friend remembered:

We loved the annual show put on by the La Bahia Peruvian Horse Club at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds at Watsonville. In 1998, it was a show crammed with surprises and learning experiences.

Sandy Nathan & Vistoso at Rancho Vilasa
Vistoso & I in Front of our Barn, Getting Ready to Go to the Show
This photo shows how we used to treat our ribbons: Hang ’em in front of the tack room to rot. They did.

As the show date approached, my husband and our horse trainer were eager to get to the show and compete. They had schooled and conditioned their horses to perfection and spent hours discussing which horse to put in which class.

I was my usual ambivalent self. I’d been writing rather than riding, so my favored horse and I were … I won’t say flabby. That’s so judgmental. We were not completely fit. Nevertheless, I figured that we’d hold together for a class or two.

My show demon returned: Maybe I’d break the Championship barrier this time. I’ve been eligible for the Championship round of classes by getting first or second in my qualifying class many times. I always fluffed in the more intense Championship competition.

I’ve won a Reserve Championship or two, but never a Championship title. I’ve never gotten to ride around the arena carrying a hefty trophy, much less continue on to the Champion of Champions class, where I could ride out with a small monument.

Maybe this would be the show. My horse was certainly good enough.

 BARRY & SANDY NATHAN RIDE IN A MATCHED PAIRS CLASS
Barry & I in a Matched Pairs Class, Watsonville, 1997
He’s riding Vistoso, the horse I ride in the story below. I’m riding Azteca, Vistoso’s full brother (same mom and pop). Vistoso is in an earlier stage of his training here: Note that he doesn’t have a bit in his mouth. He’s in bosal. White jeans and shirts are the traditional garb worn by riders of bosal horses.
We won this class.

We drove up Highway 101 in our crew cab dually. Someone once asked me, “What’s a dually?” I couldn’t imagine such cultural deprivation. A dually is a truck that has double wheels on the back axle, for a total of six wheels, two in front, four in back. The extra wheels add stability. A crew cab dually has a passenger compartment, making it a sedan in front of a truck bed.

We knew we were close to the show grounds when we saw the trees. Dark cypresses with craggy branches thrust themselves into the soft air of the coastal community. Rows of huge eucalyptus trees stood along the roadsides, an attempt at taming sea breezes planted a half a century before.

Watsonville has one of the most beautiful fairgrounds I’ve seen, not so much for the facilities, which are a little down in the heels, let’s be honest. Rather, the grounds themselves draw attention. They are exquisitely carpeted with brilliant green lawns and shaded by massive cypresses.

Slightly rundown or not, everything’s nice at Watsonville. The stalls, the wash racks, the warm up arenas. The main show arena. Even the concrete bleachers rimmed by grass are nice. The people are nice. Those who lose in the show’s classes don’t howl too loudly and I’ve never seen a fistfight or screaming match. In fact, I’ve only seen one person drunk out of his/her mind.

Excitement filled the truck as we neared the show. We bounced along the access road, turned into the fairgrounds and jolted to the show office. (Having dual rear wheels does not make a truck any less a truck.)

Peruvian Paso Angel   Peruvian Paso Biker   Peruvian Paso Scarecrow   Peruvian Paso Elephant
Scenes from a Peruvian Paso Horse Show
This is not official garb: These photos are from a costume class in Santa Rosa years ago. The horse on the right in the elephant costume is a National Champion ridden by the very well known trainer, Shawna Valenzuela. Do enlarge these photos––they’re hysterical.

When I think of Peruvian horse shows, I think, “Medieval pageantry.” The bigger barns have wildly colorful stall decorations: banners, swags, pennants. Tables of their trophies mark the ends of the stall rows. These also sport video set ups continuously playing reruns of other shows and wins. They’re stacked with shiny brochures and advertising stuff.

Horses are all over the place. Being ridden, led, washed, caught. In every show, at least one horse will get loose and run wildly through the showgrounds. People run and jump out of the way most of the time.  Someone always gets bucked off. Trainers and helpers are longeing (See The Training Series) horses to warm them up.

The whole thing moves, the riders, horses, banners, videos, show staff, trucks with and without trailers. The big barns have semis and small utility vehicles, all painted to match the barns’ logos and colors. People of every shade wander around, including real Peruvians! Yes, they are very much a presence. (You must go to a Peruvian show. Here’s the NAPHA, the breed’s organization, web site. Find a show near you and go. Buy a horse!)

The tack (saddle and so on) is similar to what the conquistadores used in 16th century Peru. The correct riding attire is not the classic and tasteful hunt seat kit, which looks (to this rider’s eyes) like what you would wear to a job interview.

Azteca de Oro BSN Ridden by Patti Sexton at Reno
Azteca de Oro BSN Ridden by Patti Sexton in Reno NV
This is the same Azteca mentioned earlier. Horses have fancy registered names and not so fancy barn names. (Rey de Corazones BSN to “Eddie.”) Patti is a figure in our story, as you will see below. The photo shows the magnificence of Peruvian show gear.

Back to Watsonville: The friendly show management told us where our stalls were, and we proceeded to the next phase of horse show participation. Getting ready. That means bedding the stalls with the straw provided, setting up the tack room and storing our stuff. Also putting up nylon strap barriers over the top halves of stalls inhabited by horses likely to jump out. That’s right, jump out.

They do that––yes, indeed. Not all of those that try to escape clear the lower half of the stall door. They “hang up with their rear ends,” which is one of the reasons that shows have a veterinarian on the grounds.

After setting up, the savvy exhibitor rides his or her horse in the arena and around the fairgrounds. This is to make sure that the horse has its nervous breakdown before the show, instead of in front of the judge the next day.

Participating in a show is like running a marathon without the aerobic benefits.

When your horse is calmed down, washed off, put away and fed, you can take care of yourself. This means finding the official hotel, typically the local Motel 6, having a sumptuous meal of fast food and retiring to listen to your neighbors fight. (The glamor of the horse show world is greatly overstated.)

This phase of the horse show is equivalent to setting up a military campaign while inside a pressure cooker. The horses are not the only ones to suffer from horse show nerves. I have the worst horse show nerves of anyone I know, despite having showed horses since I was fifteen years old. One of the great things about horse shows is the fact that all my friends are there. I’ve found that talking nonstop reduces my tension. I often talk to everyone for three days straight.

SANDY NATHAN RIDING AZTECA AT THE MONTEREY SHOW
I’m Riding Azteca at the Monterey Show
Don’t have a photo of me on Vistoso. This is close enough: They’re full brothers.

Let’s jump to the show results. In my first class, I finished last. Okay? Do you have a problem with that? I might be the slightest bit testy about it, so don’t say anything.

I don’t come in last.

Okay, I did once before, but that was a fluke. I really thought I had that class nailed. I thought I was going to win it. It was at Reno, in that enormous concrete indoor arena with the air conditioning. After finishing last, I rode out of the arena into the 105-degree heat so shocked that I couldn’t scream or pass out.

I don’t come in last. I always win something––third or fifth. Anything. I learned how to win when I was a teenager. I win. I don’t come in last.

Except that time in Reno. Fortunately for me in that instance, a bunch of my friends poured out of the grandstand and said, “Sandy! We can’t believe what happened! We thought you were going to win the class! You were perfect!”

With their support, I realized the truth of the yogic maxim prohibiting attachment to results. It can be paraphrased as, “Easy come, easy go.” I got over it.

But it happened again in Watsonville! I rode  my stunningly beautiful gelding, Vistoso (which means gorgeous in Spanish), in a pleasure horse class. We maneuvered around the arena under the milky blue sky with cypresses poking up all around and tasteful Spanish music being broadcast over the arena and stands. The announcer’s voice was modulated and classy. The fifteen or so of us in the class were groomed and tacked up exactly as the rules would have us. The horses moved out with their four beat Spanish gait.

“Circle your horses, please. Two circles to the left.” The announcer and her helpers sat above the arena in a raised booth. The judge and ring steward were in the arena, better able to see the action. “Stop your horses, please. And stand.”

A pleasure horse class is for animals that are a pleasure to ride. A pleasure horse is one that you would take out for a lovely afternoon ride, assuming you would ever venture from a show arena in your full Peruvian regalia.

In a pleasure horse class, the rider and horse are required to do whatever the judge thinks up to kick out a horse’s true pleasurable nature.

The announcer said, “Two circles to the right, please, at your best gait.” The problem was that Vistoso was under-ridden and not well-schooled. He bucked every time I asked him to do anything.

Generally, bucking is frowned upon in a pleasure horse, especially in a horse show.

The judge finished and told us to hang out at the far end of the arena until the announcer told us who won. I had to keep Vistoso moving lest he buck me off right there.

Still, I thought we had a chance. Maybe the judge didn’t notice.

That is the beauty of denial.

In Peruvian Paso shows under most judges, the first person excused from the class is the last place horse and rider. That was me; the announcer called my number before anyone else’s. I rode out of the arena burning.

Where did my yogic, “Be content no matter what happens” stuff go? I was not content. I’ve had a bug about winning my whole life and coming in last was not part of it.

This outcome prompted hours of intense introspection moving toward anguish. My angst ratcheted up immediately after the class when I asked my friend, farrier, and sometime horse trainer, Patti Sexton to get on Vistoso and see why he was being such a jerk.

Patti rode him in the warm-up arena, a smaller arena close to the main show arena. She skillfully piloted the horse, giving a show-stopping performance. He was flawless. Watching her ride, my jaw dropped. I’d never seen Vistoso look so good. He could have won anything.

I knew exactly what the matter was: me. The horse was scared and acting out. Patti’s riding ability and fearlessness absorbed his distress. Plus, she could ride him no matter what he did. He knew it with that magic equine intuition, so he didn’t bother to try anything.

As she flashed past, Patti shook her head and said, “Oh, yeah. He really is being a jerk.” Oh? I couldn’t see it. Nothing showed with her expert riding.

The lesson sank in: The problem was me, not the horse. Boy, did I feel rotten. I was about to feel worse.

Charlotte Dicke, an old hand in the Peruvian world (now Charlotte Dicke Becerra, wife of Ramon Becerra and owner of Conquistador Magazine and the Peruvian Horse Quarterly––check out the links. They’ll knock your eyeballs out.), wanted to try out a sidesaddle Patti had for sale.

Charlotte plopped the saddle on Vistoso, who had never been ridden sidesaddle. Accepting a sidesaddle is something that requires training. The rider’s balance is different than astride; the saddle sits differently on the horse’s back. Then there’s that missing leg on the right side, and the unexpected foot sticking out at the horse’s eye level on the left. Some horses object to this.

Charlotte piled on Vistoso and rode him sidesaddle all over the fairgrounds, neck-reining and dodging traffic and baby carriages and people opening umbrellas and other things that make horses crazy. He never flinched.

This was hard to take. Fortunately, I’d had a personal breakthrough earlier when I saw Patti slide Vistoso to a stop and back him across the arena by wiggling a finger.

In that breakthrough moment, I realized that I am old––and he is not. He is bursting with life and muscle and youth. He does not worry about knee replacements and arthritis. Or herniated discs. Nor does he use a cane. I do.

I realized that I need a more sedate horse. Or a sedated horse. Maybe a dead horse.

Everything was made worse by the fact that my husband could not lose. He was having the sort of show that horse people dream about that never happens. But it was happening.

BARRY NATHAN & REY DE CORAZONES BSN
Barry & Eddie “Do the Cones” in Santa Barbara.
They won there, too. Look at how close those cones are.

We took our newly finished gelding, Rey de Corazones BSN, (“Eddie”––after my cousin, Ed Shomber) to the show as a schooling exercise. We didn’t expect him to win anything; he’d just completed his training and had been ridden in a bit for maybe a month. He won his two classes, Novice Horse and Performance Gelding, 4–6! That was just for starters, and we still had the Championship classes the next day.

I will not talk about the interpersonal dynamics of highly competitive people who happen to be married. I didn’t talk about it then, and I won’t now.

I thrashed half the night in an orgy of self-recrimination. Finally falling asleep, I had nightmares in which I came in last again and again.

Exhausted and almost insane when I returned to the show the next morning, I sat in the stands and watched the two remaining classes that I could have entered to redeem myself. Ladies to Ride and Amateur Owner to Ride came and went.

I felt only one thing––relief. The last place I wanted to be was in that ring on that bucking maniac, Vistoso. I had finally accepted my placement of the day before. At last, I was content. My suffering evaporated.

Then it happened: The show committee asked Barry and I to stand by the gate after lunch. We did, with no clue as to what was going on.

A few minutes later, they called us into the arena and gave us the Benni Barto Memorial Trophy. The trophy was awarded to the ranch which best epitomized the spirit of the show. This included the quality of their horses, their presentation and the effort put into showing. It was also based on improvement, sportsmanship, and conduct.

SANDY & BARRY NATHAN WIN THE BENNI BARTO MEMORIAL TROPHY
Barry & Sandy Nathan win the Benni Barto Trophy
I are in the center, flanked by the La Bahia Club Show Committee.
The award is given in memory of a dear friend, Benni Barto. I remember Benni so vividly. Doing horse business with her. All the barbecues at her place. The horse camp she ran for children.

I burst into tears as we accepted the trophy. The minute I truly accepted losing, our ranch won the award that meant most to us.

Gabriela de Amanecer Wins Mares Gait with Benni Barto Riding, Monterey CA, 1992
Benni Barto Winning Mares Gait on our Twiggy
An amazing show when the foundling mare beat the best the big barns could produce. Monterey 1992

This is the learning that can come from horse shows. It has everything to do with moving through the impasses in front of you. It’s not really about winning and losing, except when it is.

CAPOEIRA BSN “GOING THROUGH THE CONES”, WATSONVILLE ‘97
Barry’s Riding Cappy “Through the Cones,” Making a Serpintine through Closely Spaced Cones.
They won Champion of Champions Performance Stallion at
Watsonville in 1997 & 1998.

After that, Barry went on to ride our stallion, Capoeira BSN, to his second Champion of Champions Performance Stallion title. Watching Cappy serpentine through the close-set poles to win was a stirring sight. He looked like a snake with a mane and tail.

I didn’t mind being out of the limelight. I didn’t mind that I lost. I felt absolutely content.

Though I did talk to the judge after the show, asking her if she remembered me and why I’d come in last in my class.

She looked at me, perplexed. “You didn’t come in last. I only give the ring steward my placings of first through fifth.”

The announcer called people out of the ring randomly; the fact that she called me before anyone else simply meant that I hadn’t placed.

My mind spun. I didn’t come in last … My previous two days of semi-hysterical internal ranting, angst, suffering, and general insanity were over nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

At many shows, the announcers call the last-place person first, but it’s not a rule. I’d jumped from a convention to an absolute reality.

The truth dawned: The sleepless night, the emotional pain––I did it to myself.

But don’t we always do it to ourselves?

That’s it: Lose until you win.

SADDLE & RIBBONS
At the end of the day, what does winning mean?

What was the real value of my experience to the Peruvian Paso show world? Nothing.  The show folded, I don’t think the club exists any more. We got no photos in national magazines, very little recognition beyond the people there that year. The award wasn’t a national championship, not even a regional or Watsonville-wide event. We got a cool big trophy for a year, a loaner which we had to turn in the next year for a mini-size.

Where’s the winning? It lives in my soul, in the personal, intangible movement I made over that weekend. Everyone there, if they were awake at the wheel of life, had their own experience. Whether it joined the other examples of “I’ve been screwed,” or “I’m the best because I won Champion of Champions,” depends on the brain of the person having it.

We stopped showing horses years ago. Does anyone in the horse world remember how much we won? It’s piled all over the house. Useless baubles with memories.

I stopped showing because my body fell apart. I can’t do it any more––though if I could, I’d be riding reined stock horses at the Cow Palace the way I did as a kid.

But about the long term impact?  After I stopped showing a few years, I’d go to a show and very few people recognized me. Some old friends, yes. But the currency in the horse show world is winning.

Do we need to win in the small way? The ribbons way? The “I’m a published author” way? Yes, to get to where we’re meant to be. Awake at the wheel, asking, “What am I winning? What is the shelf life of those wins? How deep are the relationships? Do I even like the people my glorious career brings to me?”

I encourage you to set your sights higher, to win gloriously in fields that have a shelf life greater than horse show ribbons or pulp fiction.

My very best wishes,

Sandy Nathan

 THE GODDESS BATHES US
See the light.

THE RANCHO VILASA HORSE SHOW CREDO: (This is from out ranch website, developed over years of showing horses. We’ve done all the objectionable things ourselves, so we speak with authority. How does this relate to your life?)

A long time ago, Barry and I realized that showing horses is really fun– if you win. If you don’t, it’s expensive, hot, dirty and painful. Our goal at Rancho Vilasa is to be content whatever we do, win or lose. It’s a goal we’re still working on.

Consider our point of view: First, after showing Peruvian Paso horses for over ten years, we’ve realized that character is what you really win. Class placements and Championship titles have little to do with the value of mastering personal and horsey phobias, and everything else that goes on in the show world. Mastery in horse shows involves personal learning and enlightenment. Those are as important as ribbons.

Second, we like games where everyone playing has a good time. This lets out activities like duck hunting, where the duck does not have a good time. Regarding horse shows, has your horse ever banged on your bedroom door at five in the morning begging to be hauled eight hours so he can work his buns off in a strange and scary place? What’s in it for him?

Most important of all– what does showing horses prove? If you won every class in every horse show in the universe, would it cure cancer? Would it feed starving children? Would your winning do anything that anyone would remember in one hundred years? Ten years? One?

And which is the better horse? A National Champion that is so hot that only his trainer can ride him? Who’s so valuable you can’t take him on the trails? Or a good old boy with a veterinary problem who can only pack handicapped kids around– and give them a reason to live?

Until we figure the show thing out, we’ve set up a few rules.

  • “Don’t haul your horse any longer than you’d haul yourself.”
  • “Don’t show horses that don’t want to be there.”
  • “Don’t go if you’re broke and exhausted or have more important things to do.

You will NEVER, NEVER hear us advertising ourselves as the best show barn or the biggest winners, but we do show our horses. We love horse shows. We love the beauty of the animals, the energy of competition. The music. The people. And we love to win––as long as it’s fair and square. No cheating. Cheating puts you back on square one.

copyright 1998 Sandy Nathan All rights reserved.

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WHO IS SANDY NATHAN? A Q & A SESSION SPELLS IT OUT

Sandy NathanSandy Nathan, National Award Winning Author

I’ve always hated the “Who is Sandy Nathan?” question. Ditto: Who is anyone? This is a philosophical inquiry. Answering that question is why we’re on earth. You can’t answer it in thirty seconds.

However, someone sent me these crazy questions. The little blurb at the top says the basics about me, and the Q & A session gives you a sense of the whole creature––me.

Enjoy!
Sandy

Sandy Nathan knows the worlds she describes in her writing. She draws on her personal studies in meditation, spirituality, and mysticism as well as her experiences in Silicon Valley corporate culture, breathing life into her characters and giving them depth and dimension. Sandy has won multiple national awards for her books. The mother of three grown children, Sandy and her husband live on their California horse ranch.

This gives an adequate view, but you may get a livelier one from this question and answer session:

 Q & A WITH SANDY NATHAN:

Where did you get the idea of a series of thrillers about the richest man in the world and a great shaman?

From God. Also from the strands of my life. Most of what’s in the Bloodsong Series comes from the threads of my life, as interpreted by my unconscious mind and shaped by my editors.

The series exploded in my brain after a cataclysmic and healing meditation retreat and thirty years of personal work. Heal that trauma! Clean up that mess!

I started writing the Bloodsong Series in 1995. I was fifty years old: It took me fifty years to have something worth saying. It’s taken me thirteen more to write it properly.

Are Will Duane and Grandfather based on real people?

No. They grew up inside of me as characters. They bear similarities to people I’ve known or read about, but they have their own life inside me. I wish they were real. I’d love to do dinner at Will’s.

Are you real?

Yeah. It says so on the label attached to the back of my neck.

Actually, this is a good question. BECOMING AND BEING REAL are the main things I write about. Becoming my Self is my goal in life.

Why did you call it The Bloodsong Series?

My surgeon asked me that as he wheeled me into the operating room. I said that, “It almost killed me to write it, so why not?” (The surgery went fine.)

The actual reason is that my blood sang, danced, and did cartwheels during the years I’ve worked on the series. I hope yours does the same. This is visceral, bloody spirituality.

Why are books about vampires so popular these days?

Beats me. I think people should read about bloody, heart-singing, mind-searing spirituality. The vampire deal does nada for me. Books about spiritual growth and recovery from addiction are compatible with action, violence, sex and sensuality. Read my stuff and find out. Better: Try it and find out.

Live your heart’s song, not its drippings.

Why all the sex in Numenon?

There’s only one explicit scene, and that’s a flashback. The undercurrent of sexuality in Numenon is due to the undercurrent of sexuality in all things human.

And besides, I have my mother’s permission to write what I wrote. I started this book in 1995. About 1997, I announced to my mom that I was writing a novel.

She said, “I want the first copy!” My mom was elderly at this time. And always had been a lady.

After two years of writing, I knew the lay of the book, so to speak. I gasped and said, “Well, mom, some of it’s kind of … raunchy.”

She smiled her adorable smile and said, “Why, Sandy, honey, you have to have sex in it, or no one will buy it.”

She died in the year 2000 and didn’t receive that first copy. I like to think that in the Bloodsong Series and my other fiction, I have embodied my mother’s advice to the fullest. I’m sure she’d be proud.

Do you have any advice for your readers?

Lead the life that’s yours instead of faking someone else’s.

What kind of music do you listen to while writing?

None. The song of my soul, the music of the spheres, and the chugging of my computer sound automatically when I write. That’s enough. I get hostile if anyone comes into the room making any noise. Since I write in the family room most of the time, I have become a problem, like our dog who bites anyone near his dish. We’re working on it.

What do you wear when you write?

I usually wear complete Peruvian Paso horse show regalia suitable for the highest levels of competition. This includes a white shirt and jeans, poncho, wide brimmed Peruvian hat, belt, spurs, fancy neck scarf, jewelry and a harmonica.

If that’s in the wash, I wear a tutu and pointe shoes.

Who’s feeding me these questions? What difference does it make?

I write round the clock and wear whatever I’m wearing.

You can ask Sandy Nathan a question! Before submitting, ask yourself, “Is this a good question? Would I ask my mom this? Or, would I ask my minister, rabbi, guru or dog trainer? Am I scammer or seriously disturbed person that Sandy doesn’t want to hear from? Am I trying to hawk my book rather than reaching out and buying Sandy’s?”

If you’re on the level, ask away. You can comment here or do it through our contact page. Sandy answers sporadically. She can be pretty fast, if it’s a really good questions and relates to her work.

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE coverStepping Off the Edge, winner of six national awards

NUMENON Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

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WHAT DO AMAZON REVIEWS REALLY MEAN? This could happen to you.

I know that a good review by one or more Amazon Top Reviewers can create a top selling book on Amazon and elsewhere. I’ve seen it, and all those selling books on the subject of promoting your book say it. Perhaps the Top Reviewers put in lots of time and effort and provide meaningful evaluations.

But what to those Amazon reviews mean in general? I’ve reviewed a bunch of books on Amazon, mostly on somewhat high-toned subjects, eastern and other philosophical systems, music. And of course, my favorite, a brand of unrefined coconut oil that keeps this gal’s skin from looking reptilian. Through these efforts, I’ve risen from the millionth ranking reviewer to the lofty 230,000th or so.

Not any more. Read and see what can happen to you.

What the reviews mean was rubbed in my face recently by a review I wrote. Most reviewers I’ve seen give wildly enthusiastic reviews, about equivalent in quality to the positive feedback you see on eBay, “Double Cookies, You’re the best! A++++++ Will buy again! A #1! ”

Some reviewers are serious and make a good, rational and intelligent stab at evaluating the book or object being recommended.

What do eBay review readers want? Someone to agree with their preconceived opinions? Do they want to hear the reviewer’s honest assessment of a piece of literature? His or her personal truth? An informed view of the book using generally accepted standards for reviewing? Like you might see in the New York Times? Something that your literature professor might produce? Criticism of the elements of the book and the skill with which it is written?

Apparently not. All my reviews have been of products or things I like. I like to keep things positive, but I’ve always told my truth and not held anything back.

A few days ago, I posted a review of a pop-lit book that is really lower tier in terms of literary merit. It’s pretty and well produced, and will one day end up in the mass market trade, probably making its author a bundle. (Which is always nice. Writing is hard work and deserves to be rewarded.)

I popped $23.99 for the hardbound version, due to an Amazon recommendation. I found the book very unsatisfying. I was generous in my review. I said what I said nicely. Way nicer than my editors have leveled their criticisms at my work––as an author you’re as good as your editor much of the time. It’s hard to critique your own work. That’s why we have editors. I’m getting ready to publish a new book. It’s gone through at least four editorial reviews, most line by line.

OK. I published a three star (***) review, which was better than the book deserved. Within hours, readers of the review began voting it unhelpful. All the other five star reviews (*****!!!) were being voted totally useful and good.

Don’t the readers of pop fiction reviews care about the obvious defects that an informed reviewer picks up instantly? Doesn’t all the stuff that I went through with years of writing groups and editors and professors while learning to write something with literary merit matter to these readers?

No. The author of the book in question has a following. The following does not care about the literary quality of her work as long as it satisfies their needs for more of the same.

I ended up pulling the review after nine readers said it wasn’t helpful. Phew. I posted it here for a while and finally just pulled it.

Then I got to reap the consequences of telling my truth. My rating as a reviewer dropped to # 366,147 from 230,000. Reviewer rankings are based on the ratio of helpful votes to total votes. All those people who voted my review not helpful caused my reviewer ranking to drop 130,000 points in the ranks. All because I was honest about what I saw in a flawed book.

Now I know why some top Amazon reviewers only give positive reviews. Part is to be nice and say positive things, the other part is that the author’s flaming fans will roast them for pointing out shortcomings.

I think I’ll stick to reviewing coconut oil.

A LARGE QUESTION LURKS HERE: WHAT DO REVIEWS MEAN WHEN READERS JUST WANT TO HEAR HOW WONDERFUL THEIR FAVORITE IS? OR––WHAT DO PEER REVIEWS OF POPULAR FICTION MEAN? IS ALL THE ANGST WRITERS OF LITERARY FICTION GO THROUGH TO CREATE MEANINGFUL AND BEAUTIFUL WORK JUST BALONEY?

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HOW TO STOP YOURSELF FROM DOING SOMETHING STUPID

The other day, I was about to purchase a lot of seven vintage raccoon coats on eBay.

I’ll say that again: I WAS GONNA BUY SEVEN OLD RACCOON COATS. I seriously, seriously wanted to toss in the winning bid.

These were not marked as to size: None of them might have fit me. My thought was, “Well, maybe one of them (or more) will fit me. I can sell the rest back on eBay and make a bundle.” Or not. The seller didn’t PUT any close ups in the ad. I couldn’t tell if some might be missing things like sleeves or backs.

I was not so lost in I wanna that I couldn’t see that this was a stupid thing to do. (I’m not saying rehabbing things and reselling them on eBay is a bad thing for everyone, but for me, it definitely is.)

I have a new book coming out in two months and all sorts of publicity stuff happening. Book stores want me to speak, and the Book Expo America, the largest book fair in the country is coming up in months, close to my house. Plus, I’m writing a new book, science fiction thriller, and I’m closing in on the final chapters.

Book related activities are what I should be concentrating on. The thrust of my life is getting those books out and promoting them.

Taking on seven beat up raccoon coats in California, where winter is two weeks and consists of three days below 60 degrees, ranks in the realms of the really stupid.

IT BRINGS UP AN IMPORTANT QUESTION FOR ALL OF US:

WHY DO WE HUMANS DO IDIOTIC THINGS? MORE IMPORTANTLY, HOW CAN WE STOP OURSELVES BEFORE WE DO REAL DAMAGE TO OUR LIVES?

HOW CAN WE STOP OURSELVES? (We’ll work on WHY WE DO IT later.)

1. DON’T DO IT. The number one way to eliminate your stupid mistakes is: DON’T DO THEM. If you have any inkling that what you want to do is stupid, don’t do it. Don’t make the phone call, put in the bid, place the bet, buy the bottle, or wink back at that good looking guy/gal. WHATEVER IT IS, DON’T DO IT.

(I’m writing for everyone reading this blog as well as the person writing it. At this point, the raccoon coat deal isn’t dead. I could still shoot in a snipe. Why do you think I’m writing this? It’s writing therapy.)

If you think what you’re about to do is dumb, don’t do it.

Another way of saying this is, “Do good, not evil.” St. Thomas Aquinas said that many years ago. It remains priceless advice.

The other half of this is, “DON’T DO IT” by itself is about as effective as those drug abuse prevention programs based on “JUST SAY NO.” 🙂

Of course druggies can’t say no, they’re addicts. They live in a society based upon their saying, “Yes!” and often. Just like all of us. Our society is a maximal immersion in temptation and desire. We float in the titillation of the senses, the commandment “Do thy thing,” and “If you want it, you should have it.” Sooner is better.

Who says “Don’t do it.” I do. Others do. The trick is, “How?”

By not doing it. This requires self control and development of the will. Two spiritual attributes.

2. THINK ABOUT WHAT STUPID MEANS. There’s evil, and there’s stupid. I think they wrap nicely into each other. My book, Stepping Off the Edge, has two chapters in it on recognizing and dealing with evil. I’m not going to repeat these here. However, the crux of my arugment comes from something my meditation master said. He said something like, “Hurting other people is the greatest evil. Even thinking about hurting another is great evil.”

If you’re about to do something stupid, it undoubtedly has an element of evil. You hurt yourself or someone else. Do an analysis like the following for your I wanna.

What’s the evil with me and the coats? If I got the package at the asking price, it would cost $350 to deliver the hairy monsters to the door. That’s with no returns, and no, “Gee, seller, I really need a bigger size on at least one.”

Would my husband notice the $350 charge on our credit card? Oh, yeah. He who holds the family finances together, denies me nothing, pays the bills, and demands almost nothing for himself would take it like a fist in the gut. I would be betraying him. This is definite evil on my part.

What about me? How do I hurt myself? So I get the furs, jump into the joy of rehabbing shedding pelts? Something I know nothing about? Not only that, I don’t know the creatures’ condition. When done with this learning experience, I “get” to resell them on eBay or craigslist or my local flea market.

At the expense of working on my book Numenon, the first book of a series that I’ve been working on since 1995, which is coming out soon?

Talk about self sabotage.

4. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE? Get this and saying no will be easier.

WHY AM I HERE? Keep this question before you always. Search until you find an answer. You are on this planet to ask that question until you know the answer. When you know the answer, then you are to actuate the plan.

Got it? Of course, you’ve got it. We all know this. Ever you ever caught yourself sort of ducking you head in guilt when you’re about to do something stupid. evil or off purpose? We all do that.

Only a few of us, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Mohatma Ghandhi and the like really live their lives the big way, being all that they were meant to be. The rest of us duck and jive and sleaze out. Me included. Those raccoon coats were the birthplace of this entry, after all.

It took me 50 years to find my life’s purpose, which is writing about those first 50 years and all the rest. Creating meaning out of chaos and mayhem. It was hard. Writing is hard. It’s easier to fritter my time away on stupid things.

5. WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?

Under every burning desire is what you really want and need. It’s an intangible thing that you will never get by buying fur coats, getting a new car or spouse. What emotional need are you trying to meet with whatever stupid thing you’re about to do? Examine this.

Using our furry friends, what do those coats mean to me? Well, I’m exhausted, doing all this book stuff. Worn out. I’d like do not just own a furry coat, I’d like to be a furry animal and curl up somewhere. I’m pooped, so I go for fur. I don’t want to burden my family with the cost of one coat, so I figure that I’ll make a profit with the seven coats, and then justify keeping one. That’s logical, isn’t it? Stupid logic. I’m buying seven times the work, a huge risk as to quality, all for unrecognized emotional need.

6. IF YOU’RE IN TEMPTATION, TELL SOMEONE ABOUT IT BEFORE YOU MAKE THE LEAP.

In Stepping Off the Edge, I’m pretty open in telling the truth about myself. People have asked me, “Boy, you were really taking a risk, taking about that.” Here is one of my greatest secrets:

If you want to make something disappear, tell the truth about it. 

If you’re really serious about getting the monkey off your back, take a picture of it and show everyone you know. The clearer and and more definitive you can be about whatever is holding you captive, the less power that temptation will have on you. Works for crushes on people, things you want that are stupid, all sorts of emotions like anger, resentment, jealousy. So while people are going, “Oh wow, she’s so brave,” I’m really becoming freer to be the person I was meant to be. It works. Yes, you will feel exposed and like a real idiot when you do it. Freedom is worth the cost. And the cost is cheap when it’s telling the truth. Go, and create goodness and truth. The embarrasment fades.

7. IT IS EASIER TO FILL OUR LIVES WITH STUPID, TRIVIAL, MEANINGLESS AND EVIL THINGS THAN IT IS TO LOOK INSIDE, DISCOVER OUR PURPOSE AND BECOME THE MAGNIFICENT PERSON YOU CAME HERE TO BE.

That’s the underlying “how to stop.” Get real. You’re going to die one day. Do what you came here to do.

I’m going to post this now. May add pictures and such later. As well as the why we do stupid things. I’ll also update this and let you know if I let the seven raccoon coats go with out buying them.

Sandy Nathan

PS. While the coats may sound like a dumb thing to lust after, they’re not as stupid as some things people do. I know someone who dumped his really nice, respectable wife of many years for a twenty year old he met at a swap meet. That ranks in the realm of the unbelievably stupid acts.

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I’M ON FULL POWER LIVING, THURSDAY AUGUST 9TH, 9AM PST

Sandy Nathan Sandy Nathan, National Award Winning Author

I’m so excited about being on the Full Power Living radio show! Full Power Living is the only internationally-broadcast radio show dedicated to “awakening the world to the power and importance of human emotions.”

And feelings are important, as those who have been knocked over by powerful reactions to seemingly trivial events can testify. Our feelings have their own logic and are tied directly to our deepest values and beliefs.

ilenedillon1.jpg Ilene Dillon, M.F.T., L.C.S.W.

Full Power Living is hosted by Ilene L. Dillon, M.F.T., L.C.S.W. Ilene has been a psychotherapist for almost forty years, teaching thousands of people how to use their emotions to master life challenges. You can learn more about Ilene from her web site, Emotional Pro.

wtr_channellogo_A-2.jpg

To listen to the show, log on to World Talk Radio (www.worldtalkradio.com). Once the site is up, click on Studio A, which you’ll see close to the top of the screen on the left. Another screen will come up with a navigation bar indicating the days of the week. It’s right about in the middle of the screen. Click on Thursday, and then scroll to 9 AM. Ilene and I will be there!

We’re going to be focusing on my book, Stepping Off the Edge, and how I treat emotions in it, as well as how I use emotions in my work as a writer and in my life. I have to tell you, effectively using my emotional world was one of the things that allowed me to write my books and see them published. So far, my books have won six national awards.

If you’ve read Stepping Off the Edge or my ‘zines and articles, you may want to ask me a question or make a comment. The Full Power Living show is your chance! Call toll free during the show––AUGUST 9TH 9 TO 10 AM PACIFIC STANDARD TIME. In North America, you can call toll-free: 866-613-1612. Outside North America, the toll free number is 001-858-268-3068. I hope to hear from you!

If you miss the show, it will be archived on the radio station, Ilene’s web site, and my site, sandynathan.com But I hope you can make it: August 9, 2007, 9 AM.
SANDY & REY DE CORAZONES I’m in the saddle, doing what I love. Horse are like emotions; when you’re skillful, you can control them with the subtlest cues, substituting understanding and teamwork for force.

NUMENON Numenon, The Bloodsong Series I.
Numenon
will not be released officially until late 2007 or early 2008. But––we’ll have pre-release copies available soon. Very soon, I’ll post a link so you can order your copy. The first book of The Bloodsong Series, Numenon has been getting more hits than anything on my web site. Winner of the 2007 National Indie Excellence Award for Religious Fiction.

What’s Numenon about?

Join the richest man in the world and his top executives on a journey that may cost their lives. Will Duane, founder and CEO of Numenon, Inc., surprises his team by telling them that they’re going to a Native American retreat in New Mexico.

He doesn’t tell them that his dream of transforming the world through enlightened capitalism is all but dead and that he’s falling apart. He doesn’t say that the security of his home has been breached. Nor does he reveal a terrifying, prophetic dream. And he certainly doesn’t tell them about the mine . . .

An ancient Native shaman awaits them at the mysterious Mogollon Bowl. The Holy Man attempts to guide them to their good, while an unseen, ominous force plots their ruin.

Will Light or Darkness claim their souls?

“The collision of commerce and spirit, the world’s richest man and an ancient Native American shaman, a global corporation larger than any other and the quiet strength at the core of the natural world — this is thriller and metaphor and life lesson in the hands of a writer who has journey’d through both worlds.”
Gerald DiPego, screenwriter–Phenomenon

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE coverStepping Off the Edge. Winner of Five National Awards. Click here to buy.

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RADIO CHAT FEST TUESDAY, JUNE 5TH, 6:30-7:30 PM PACIFIC TIME!

REVEREND LEILANI SCHMIDTRev. Leilani Schmidt
I’m very excited to be on Rev. May Leilani Schmit’s program, THE UNIVERSAL SPIRITUAL CONNECTION. The show airs on BBS Late Nite. The link above gives you information about how to listen, call in, and so on.

A native Hawaiian, Rev. Leilani is dedicated to bridging the gap between all peoples and cultures of the world. She’s also clairvoyant, channels, and heals. Wow. She welcomes questions from listeners and has a terrific program featuring very interesting spiritually adept people from around the world.
STEPPING OFF THE EDGE cover

I’ll be speaking on, “When Your Inner Voice Speaks, Do You Listen?” This is a major theme from my book, Stepping Off the Edge. Stepping has been working out, by the way. It’s won FIVE NATIONAL AWARDS so far. It’s a finalist in the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Awards in the New Age/Spirituality category, one of three books to make it that far. Haven’t found out if I won yet. You’ll hear my ecstatic screams from where you’re sitting if I did. This is big deal.
And it’s a Bronze Medal winner in Self Help in the IPPYs, the Independent Press contest. Another big one, more than 3,000 books entered. And it was a finalist in three categories in the 2007 National Indie Excellence competition. It was first runner up in New Age and Memoir, and a finalist in Spirituality.

The validation from my peers felt wonderful. Writing is a lonely, difficult job. Getting feedback like that felt wonderful!

NUMENON

And––while I’m bragging––my novel, Numenon, WON the 2007 National Indie Excellence competition in Religious Fiction. It was hot off the presses: The printer sent the Early Reading Copy to the contest as they were completed. They arrived that last day they could to be judged. Phew! That’s smokin’

Hope you listen to Rev. Leilani and I chat it up next Tuesday!

Blessings,

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan

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NATIONAL AWARD WINNERS FROM VILASA PRESS!

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE cover
Stepping Off the Edge by Sandy Nathan

The 2007 awards for competitions for the best books published by independent presses have been announced. Thousands of presses and books are entered in each competition. They’re so big, that being a finalist counts as a win, just like being nominated for an Academy Award is considered an award.

We at Vilasa Press are jumping for joy! Our two titles are cleaning up:

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice is the winner of SIX NATIONAL AWARDS!

Stepping Off the Edge won:

o Autobiography/Memoir (First Runner Up)
o New Age Non Fiction (First Runner Up)
o Spirituality

Stepping Off the Edge is Vilasa Press’ first title, and we’re pleased as punch! The work, fanatic attention to detail and insistence on excellence are paying off. Not to mention the literary skill of author, Sandy Nathan.

NUMENON
NUMENON, our second book and the first book of THE BLOODSONG SERIES, HAS WON TWO NATIONAL AWARDS AS AN ADVANCE REVIEW COPY (GALLEY)

NUMENON will be officially released in early 2008, and it’s already a National Award Winner! Watch Amazon and this web site for the gala BOOK RELEASE CELEBRATION! Click on one of the Numenon links and take a peek at its web site. Find out why readers are going wild over this book.

If you’ve read Stepping Off the Edge and like it, we ask you to tell your friends about it.

If a look at the Stepping Off the Edge’s website and knowing it’s already won four National Awards makes you interested in buying it, you can through Sandy Nathan’s web site. You can also buy Stepping Off the Edge on Amazon or any of the big on-line book stores. And––you can order it at your local bookstore.
NUMENON

Best wishes,

Barry Nathan, publisher, Vilasa Press

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