I’m collecting testimonials for my new books Lady Grace and Sam & Emily. These are books two and three of the Tales from Earth’s End Series, my take on life and rebirth after a nuclear holocaust. Hoping for testimonials, I sent out some review copies and contacted a few people I know who are really good writers.
I’ve written that the hardest thing about getting testimonials for your book is getting up the nerve to ask. Then it’s up to your skill and the universe.
Wow! Sometimes what I get back after making a request blows my mind! I asked Laren Bright, an Emmy-nominated television writer, for a testimonial about Sam & Emily. What I got back is this:
I have been following Sandy Nathan’s writing since her very first book, Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice. Then came her novel, Numenon. Being a sci-fi fan, I have always been leery of new writers. Sandy put the lie to that for me. Numenon definitely had what I was looking for: a good story, imaginative ideas, and good writing. When I got to the end I was both sad and happy; sad because I was so invested in the story that I wanted to know what was going to happen next and happy because I was assured this was only the first in a series and I would be able to spend more time with these great characters down the line.
Then Lady Grace came along and I found that Sandy had reached new heights in her story-telling and her craft. I told her I thought it was the best thing she had written. But then I read Sam & Emily. Out of the ballpark! It’s a terrific story with wonderful characters – both the good guys and the bad guys – in all kinds of wild situations.
I think what makes Sandy’s writing so powerful is that her stories originate from her real-life experiences. The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, first in the Tales from Earth’s End series, for example, came out of processing the grief over her brother’s death. So her stories are charged with the authenticity of what she’s going through.
If this is your first experience of Sandy Nathan’s writing, prepare yourself for a wild ride. And give thanks that there are Sandy Nathan books already in print and even more on their way.
Laren Bright Emmy-nominated television writer
It can’t get much better than that! He praised my entire writing career. Thank you, Laren, for your words of praise and vote of confidence.
Thank you, Laren!
Sandy Nathan is the winner of twenty-one national awards, in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.
He darted across the lawn, fleeing along the lake’s shore. Treetops lashed the sky and leaves tumbled past him. Looking over his shoulder, he saw the towers of his home stark against the thunderheads. Something was after him. He couldn’t see it, but knew it wanted to destroy him.
He felt the wind blowing off the lake the way it did when he was a child. The piercing cold left him shivering and weak. He heard his father’s voice, bellowing from within their stone mansion.
Then he was inside, moving through the great hall. Gothic arches admitted slashes of light. People and things seemed to pop into existence out of the shadows. “Hello, Master Will.” A servant fawned. “Good show on winning the Championship!” Win more! Win more!
He ran along the lakefront, his soul tossed like the treetops. Some- thing was trying to get him—he dodged this way and that, searching for a way out. Tears stung his eyes and his legs ached.
Will sat up in bed, heart pounding, sweat running down his cheeks. He looked around frantically, before realizing it had been one of his . . .
Had anyone seen him like that? His eyes searched the room until he was satisfied that he was alone.
He didn’t try to go back to sleep. Will got up and put on his jogging clothes. He would run in the gym until he was so exhausted that the nightmare couldn’t return. As he left his room, he glanced at the book by his bed. He seldom read psychology, considering it self-indulgent. But someone had written a book supported by decent research, a book that gave him answers.
People called him a genius. The label didn’t matter to him, but he knew it was true. Only a genius could do what he had done. That book explained the rest of it: The flashes of insight, the vision of what life could be, and the drive to create it formed the sunny side of his brilliance. The nightmares and horrors were its other side, the negative perks that came with his gifts.
Will snorted bitterly. His dark side was as big as the light. He made his way to the gym on the lower level of his home. The house was shuttered for the night. Bulletproof metal shades covered every window. He placed his palm on the sensor by the elevator. The door opened.
“Is that you, Mr. Duane?” A voice came from a speaker. An operative. “Yes. The sun will rise again.” He carefully enunciated that night’s passwords for the voice recognition system. He knew he had been monitored from the moment he stepped outside his bedroom. “No surveillance while I’m running,” he ordered.
Lights went on when he entered the gym, rippling across the equipment-filled expanse like the surf rolling across a rocky beach. The house’s lower level was dug into the hillside to allow it a larger foot- print than the fifteen thousand square foot residence above. Every conceivable training device found its place on the floor. An indoor track circled the workout area. Handball courts were beyond the far wall; outside, past steel-clad windows, the pool awaited.
Will was a runner. He didn’t warm up, simply launched himself onto the track. He’d run until the sound of rough breathing, the smell of his father’s cigars, his gravely voice, and the revulsion at what happened disappeared. He’d run until his chest ached and he couldn’t think. If he was lucky, the joy that came from running would set him free. His legs moved easily as he began. His breathing expanded and became rhythmic. He’d hit a groove in a few minutes. Until then, his mind roved.
He’d had the nightmares as long as he could remember. He thought of them as spells. He had no idea what anyone else would call them. Once past childhood, he’d never told anyone about them. They were deeper than dreams; sometimes he’d come out of one to find that the world seemed dangerous and unreal. He had a hard time shaking the feeling.
They all began the same way. The world became silent and empty, a colorless, foreign landscape. He could feel the malice behind every- thing. And then he was running along the North Shore of Lake Michigan where he had been raised. His father bought a mansion built by one of the old Robber Barons the moment he could afford it. He manufactured a family tree to go with his new wealth. Will scowled. They were not American royalty. They didn’t have a fancy pedigree. Will hated pretense. He’d seen enough.
He could recall the whiskey-roughened voices in the library when his father and his friends played poker. Cigar smoke penetrated the walls. They joked about fancy women and what they’d do with them later. His mother was in the house, awake—how could his father talk about that with her there? They spoke of Micks and WOPs and kikes. These were good Christians who praised Jesus on Christmas Day and screwed anyone they could the rest of the time. They got country clubs, while their workers got union busters and substandard wages.
During the day, he was the perfect son. But in his sleep, he found himself running along the lake. As a child, the nightmare came almost every night. A river of darkness sucked him down. The evil in that darkness was so absolute that no terror could express it. He fought the murk and filth as something toyed with him; a malignant something hid behind the opacity of daytime life. If he made a mistake, it would capture him. He would have to crawl for it forever, doing its will.
He’d awaken, screaming and sobbing. His mother would come. “Will, Will—what’s the matter, darling?” He’d rave about something terrible that was going to get him. She’d sit up stiffly and pull the
bell cord for his nanny. “Will, I don’t know where you get these stories. I simply don’t understand you.” She’d finger an amulet she had, a jade piece, as she left the room. Her quick steps and averted eyes told him that his mother was afraid of him.
What happened next depended on his nanny. They changed all the time. A few held him and petted him until he went back to sleep. Most caned him for his wild imagination and refusal to shut up. That was at his father’s orders: “Make a man of him.”
The beatings taught him to bury his screams in his pillows and never tell a soul about the night visions. With good reason—they took him to realms that separated him from everything good.
They say I’m the Prince of Darkness, Will thought, pausing to tie his shoelace. I am. You can’t be a good person and know what I know. He had seen things about human nature that revolted him in his spells, but he knew what he saw was true. His reality wasn’t for ordinary people; it was his special gift. Will’s mouth tightened.
All his life, his father had told him what he thought of him: “You’ll never be the man I am.” He bellowed the words when he was drunk, and said them silently when he was sober. No matter what Will won,
or what team he captained, or how good his grades were, they were never good enough.
His nightmares ended the same way: A vortex dragged him toward the malevolence at the core. The stalker. He clawed against the whirlpool. His father appeared above him, grabbing his arms and hauling him to safety. Will looked into his father’s eyes with sobbing gratitude, and saw the stalker’s hatred blasting back. His father was the demon, as evil as hell.
The old man bent to Will’s ear, drawing in a breath to say something . . .
And the dream ended. Wherever he was sleeping—at school as a youngster, or later, in some woman’s bed or his own—he woke up, sweating and gasping. If he wasn’t alone, he’d hide his panic, jumping out of bed and throwing on his clothes.
“Is there anything wrong?” the woman he was with would say, confused.
“No, no. No problem.” He’d leave no matter what time it was; he couldn’t let any of them see his terror. They’d be afraid of him if they knew what he saw. They’d leave him.
Of course, he would never go back to any of them anyway—they’d seen him like that. He stopped bringing women home, and never took them anyplace he couldn’t make a fast exit.
Will took off, flying along the track. Unaware of the pounding of his feet on the gym floor, the sweat flying from him, or how long he’d run.
He would forget. He would forget. He couldn’t forget.
The funny part was, even if he wanted to tell someone how much he suffered, who would care? His father had been a millionaire, and he was the richest man in the world. No one cared about the rich kid— Will knew that better than anything.
He knew what his father was going to say when the dream stopped: “It will get you in the end, no matter how hard you run.”
Will ran faster. His torso was erect and his mind clear. His breath moved in and out without effort. His legs fired away like steel shafts. He could go forever. He was so strong, he would go on forever. He tore around the track.
When he ran, nothing but his power existed. Will didn’t feel the ache in his heart that whispered on quiet nights. He had no longing for a childhood that didn’t happen or anger over the one that did. He never noticed the little boy inside him that still hoped everything would turn out fine. When Will ran, only running existed.
Tonight he wanted more than relief from pain. Will pushed his limits, hoping that it would happen.
It did. When he’d run himself close to oblivion, the light burst from the base of his spine and traveled upward. His back arched and his chest expanded. The force moving through his body was so powerful that he couldn’t run. He stopped abruptly, bouncing along the track. He slammed into the side of the gym, sliding for a yard or two. He stayed on his feet and swung to face the wall, pressing his chest against it. The column of light rose up his back. Groans escaped him. He put his arms out, palms hugging the wooden surface. His head twisted to the right, as though he were trying to face the center of the room. His face contorted as the energy moved upward. He couldn’t stop what was happening, and didn’t want to.
The pillar of light rose up his back. When it climbed above his head, it exploded into a brilliant golden fountain, brighter than the sun. He rose onto his toes. The energy unfurled around him, spreading and spreading, moving everywhere. It felt like it reached the edges of the universe. Will was its center. He knew things when the light surrounded him; he could see relationships between ideas, organizations, and people that were hidden from him before. The worst business problems became simple.
The bliss that came with the light was hard to accept. He felt so much pleasure that it shocked him. He had chased pleasure all his life, but this was beyond that. Sex paled in comparison. He pushed off the wall and walked down the track, his hands reaching up, enraptured. He talked to it, the Light.
“I love you. I love you. Oh, stay with me. I love you.” On like that, words he’d never spoken to anyone. The Light could understand what he said, he knew that. It heard his dreams and desires, his sadness and pain. And it fixed him; it healed him, at least for a while. With it, he could keep going. The Light was the most precious thing in his life.
Will had no idea what it was. The closest he could come to an explanation was that column was his soul. Or maybe God. He thought it might be God, except that he didn’t believe in God.
The bliss played with him, flowing upward in a torrent. He moaned in delight, walking around the track, face alight. He held his hands high, reaching for something unseen. “I love you!” he shouted. “Oh, I love you so much.” He danced, filled with joy. Tears of gratitude splattered the floor. The gym was magic, enchanted. He skipped and laughed like a child.
The Light had come to him years before. After being whipped because he had a nightmare, Will crawled into his bed and pulled his quilt over his head. He shook with a child’s shuddering sobs—and the Light came to him. Delight traveled up his spine, erasing his pain. Will found himself lifted to a place as wonderful as his nightmares were horrible. The Light showed him a world he never dreamed existed. In it, he found creatures—people and animals and things he’d never seen— moving between luminous hangings across a mythical landscape inside him. Every touch was ecstasy; every sound, a chorus.
The dazzling column had no physical characteristics, but he felt it was a person. It could understand like a person. It had different parts. One was female. She was like a mother or angel. Her presence suffused the good place, and she enfolded him, making everything that happened all right. He called her Beloved. She and the Light kept him alive. If the dark torrent yanked him down, the ones who lived in the bright place brought him back. They brought him back, regardless of what he did in the ordinary world or the dark dreams. They loved him no matter what he did.
One day, they showed him a world where people cooperated, where commerce served everyone, and the good that everyone said they wanted came to be. They told him that his job was to make it real. It was real; he had touched it . . . Reality, the numenon. The thing as it exists. He named his corporation after it.
The world of Light was his deepest secret. He couldn’t explain the beauty of that realm; words would defile it.
Besides, if they thought he was crazy because of his nightmares, what would they say if he told them about a Light that gave him answers and protected him? Or an angel called Beloved?
Will didn’t trust his experiences: He thought he was crazy.
He’d never heard of anyone who had such encounters. They didn’t talk about them at Stanford or its Graduate School of Business, where he went to school. No one talked about such things at meetings of the Numenon Board or any other corporate venue. He wished he could ask someone, “Does a brilliant light surge up your from ass and give you unbelievable pleasure—then tell you how to solve that merger problem?”
He knew how that one would go over, so kept his mouth shut.
Will felt the rapture drifting away. “Don’t go . . .” he cried. It always left. He knew it would come back—when he needed it. Running as hard as he could was a good way of getting it to return, but he couldn’t make it do anything. It came tonight because he needed it––after Marina kicked him out, after everything else, he needed it.
When the light had gone, Will threw a towel around his shoulders. His legs shook as he walked to the elevator. He was so exhausted that he could barely place his palm against the sensor. “The sun will rise again.”
He got into the elevator and became aware of something. He punched a button on the wall and spoke into a microphone.
* * *
Rick Bromberg took off his headset and handed it to the guy on the next shift, still shocked by what he’d seen. He resisted the desire to tell his replacement about it. Pretty good for my first night at the freak house, he thought.
He had been thrilled to get the job, even it if was the night shift; it paid better than any job he’d ever had and offered perks you couldn’t get anywhere else. Passing the test to get into the place took everything he’d learned getting his MA in Computer Science and what the Marines taught him about surveillance. But he passed.
And he signed the inch-thick contract that granted him the privilege of coming to work. He knew all about the non-competitive agreements that were standard in Silicon Valley employment contracts.
But this one, shit—if he breathed one word about what he saw in this house, they’d have his first-born child.
He hadn’t meant to do it; it was just so boring, sitting in that cubicle alone. There were five of them on duty. He didn’t realize they’d be manning separate stations. True, it was better professional practice to have five people in separate rooms monitoring the screens than all of them together. The urge to talk came up when guys were together—it was a natural thing. Rick had even given in to the urge to drink beer once in a while on other jobs. He never brought the stuff, but if it was there, hey . . . Yeah, guys in the same room could miss things.
Before showing him to his security booth that night, his super- visor had told him that they meant it here. His name was Dunkirk. He was a fucking stiff—a Brit who acted like the Empire hadn’t fallen. He was one of the commandos Duane had all over. “We are here to facilitate Mr. Duane’s security. We do that, and nothing else. Have you read your contract?”
Yeah, he had.
“Any breach of contract will be taken very seriously. Mr. Duane gives the orders. If he tells you to do something, or not to do some- thing, you will do whatever he wants. If you don’t, you’re fired, that’s it. No appeal.” Dunkirk had looked at him with those frost-blue, British eyes. “Or, if you must appeal, you will appeal to Hannah Hehrmann. You will never forget that experience, and you will lose. Now, it’s time to begin the shift.”
Everybody was scared stiff of Hannah Hehrmann. He hadn’t seen her. Hadn’t seen Will Duane, either, until the monitor showed him walking out of his bedroom in the middle of the night. Looked just like all the magazine covers: white hair, tall even on a screen. Good looking for an old guy. Duane was in his mid-sixties. Rick couldn’t imagine being that old.
He heard him say, “No surveillance while I’m running.”
Yeah, Rick heard it. But as the time went by, he began to get worried. Duane’s old, he thought. How could he run that long? What if he had heart attack and they didn’t find him until the next day? So, he flipped a couple of switches and fired up one of the screens.
Rick knew that Will Duane couldn’t tell he was watching. He knew his stuff; he had an advanced degree in stealth. Besides, Dunkirk gave him his introductory walk around that afternoon. They stood in the gym, and he said, “Mr. Duane does not like to be aware that he is being observed. The house’s surveillance system is designed so that none of the monitors or sensors can be seen or detected in any way. For instance, do you see any cameras in this room?”
He looked around and shook his head. “No. Nothing.” Yet when Dunkirk took him to his cubicle and replayed the videos, Rick could see himself on five cameras and hear every word they said. The gym was loaded. That’s what he called smooth.
He wasn’t worried that his boss would know he was taking a peek. When he first saw the old man on the screen, he couldn’t believe how hard he ran. He must have been an Olympic runner when he was young. Now, for Pete’s sake. Mr. Duane was tearing up the track, and he’d been out there a long time.
He almost punched a button for help when his boss suddenly stopped and bounced into the gym wall. A heart attack, Rick was sure. That’s what he gets for being so built at his age. He couldn’t help but compare his paunch to Will Duane’s non-existent belly. But then, Duane put his hands out straight and started moaning and arching his back like he
was humping the wall. He turned his head to the right like a corkscrew.
Rick’s eyes widened. Jesus, was he possessed, or something?
He’d heard a lot of stories about Will Duane being a warlock or the fucking devil, even. Lots of stories about his new boss were out there. When he started doing that shit, Rick stared into the monitor, mouth open. His new boss started dancing around, waving his arms and screaming, “I love you.” This was certifiable, Rick thought. Real nutcase stuff. Which he’d also heard—that Will Duane was crazy.
But then his shift was over and he came back to earth. What Duane did was his own business—if you’re the richest man on earth, you can do what you want. If he wanted to hump the wall or dance around his gym all night, who cared?
Rick went to the checkout point where they patted them down before letting them go home. As he was being searched, he thought, Why all the need for security? What else does Duane do in here? It was only his first night and the place was starting to get to him.
Dunkirk burst in, looking at Rick like he’d run over his dog. “Bromberg, I need you in my office.”
His office was a cement-walled cell with monitors ringing every wall. They hadn’t been watching him, had they?
“I need your identification badge, your code book, and your keys.” Dunkirk looked as scary as a skinny Brit could. He handed them over. “I need you to sign here, showing that you understand the reason you are being terminated and you will . . .”
“What? I’m being fired? For what?”
“You were spying on Mr. Duane as he ran, Bromberg, against his orders.”
The expression on Dunkirk’s face and the cement walls, plus all the monitors and steel doors got to him. He told the truth. “Okay. I did watch him for a while, but I won’t tell anyone what I saw.”
“Definitely not, Bromberg. You’ll never mention it again, nor will you mention your reason for relocating.”
“Relocating? I’m not . . .”
“Yes, you are. And you’ll be no more trouble to us. You are banned from employment at Numenon or any Numenon partner . . .”
“That’s practically the whole world!”
“Yes, it is, Bromberg. So you’ll be happy that we secured employ- ment for you at your new location.”
“Where is it?”
“I’m not at liberty to say. A car is waiting for you . . .” “
But how did you know?” Rick sputtered.
“Mr. Duane told me.”
“How did he know?” Rick’s voice rose in a wail.
“Mr. Duane knows, Bromberg. He knows without all this,” he waved his hand at the banks of monitors. “I don’t know why he keeps us on, really.”
* * *
Will stood swaying in his bedroom. Traces of light seeped from behind the metal clad windows. The silk draperies didn’t hide the fact that the new day had arrived. Should he get dressed for work? Will wore a robe embroidered with the Numenon logo that he’d put on after showering. His face felt like a leaden mask; his eyes kept blinking as though they were filled with grit. He couldn’t think of his schedule for the day, didn’t notice the lovely furnishings of his vast room. Not the Turner over the bureau or the little Monet he loved. The bed beckoned. A minute won’t hurt, he thought.
Will laid down and pulled the quilt over his head.
He ran through the grey-green world, the thing he feared behind him, roaring for his blood. He turned his head, and something overran him. He was tossed without mercy, slammed into the ground. He rolled and tumbled, landing on his feet, battered but alive. He watched the juggernaut’s howling progress.
It destroyed everything. He watched everyone die, smashed and bent, torn to pieces. The maelstrom killed those he loved first, then the rest. Everyone died; all humanity. Billions of bloody, ruined bodies piled up around him. He was the only one left.
He stood in the void, surrounded by nothing.
He had to live when everyone he loved was dead. Everyone he hated, too. Nothing was left, not even hatred. He had to go on living and living and living. Realizing that caused his jaw to drop, and pulled his hands to his mouth. Made him curl into a ball.
He lay, dazed. His chest rose and fell. The movement of his ribs was the only thing he could grab onto to tell him he was alive.
Was it a prophecy? Was that going to happen? Nothing could tell him; everything was gone. He felt a rumbling below the earth and heard the sound of rocks grinding together. His stomach roiled at the noise.
He realized what it meant: The stalker was coming for him.
His Beloved appeared from nowhere, speaking softly. “Yes, my dar- ling, it is true. The fate you have fought for so long will come to be very soon—in days. You have one chance to save yourself and all you love.” Whispering, she told him the way out.
Will did as she directed. It was already shaping up: He had a call in to the Indian shaman. He’d made it in hopes that what Marina said was true. He’d heard from her once since she threw him out. She wrote: “He’s a great holy man who has helped many people. If Grandfather tells me I should see you again, I will. But only then, Will. You and I are done.”
She did include a phone number where he could reach the shaman. He originally called the old man hoping he could get her back, but then he had that dream. He had to go now; the world of light required it.
The sucker didn’t return his call . . . He kept him waiting.
When the shaman finally called him back, Will was ready to detonate. He forced himself to be civil; he agreed to everything. “I’ll go wherever you want; I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll go on your retreat, just tell me how to get there.”
The old man didn’t sound surprised. It was as though he knew what Will would say.
“Bring you best warriors,” the shaman said. “As many as you want, as long as they’re your best.” And then he laughed.
Will’s stomach clenched. The joy in the old man’s laughter hit him like a fist.
And then he gave orders that would make it come to pass. “I want you to go, too, Betty, and a few others from the Headquarters.” They looked at him in disbelief. He convinced them: “We have to go. This is the most important thing we’ll ever do.”
But he would never tell anyone the real reason for their pilgrimage.
The boy felt his legs trembling and cramping, moving purely by the force of his will. He heard the breath enter his lungs, rage, burn there, then exit, only to reenter, burn again. The child couldn’t run any longer, he was run out. He shouted at his little brother, “Go there! Into the canyon! Hide!”
The younger child veered off, going in the direction the older boys had taken. The boy turned, running at the horsemen, trying to provide some cover for his brother. The two horses headed straight at him. He heard the hard staccato of the gallop on rock. A lasso’s whir filled his ears as one rider swung his loop overhead. He charged the men, waving his arms.
The horses ran past him. He stopped, bewildered. Before he could turn, something grabbed him around the waist and jerked him back- ward. He was dragged, popping over ruts like a twig. One bounce flipped him onto his belly. His face hit a rock. His arms were pinned to his sides: He couldn’t protect himself. The impact was so hard; he didn’t know his tooth had chipped. He didn’t know what happened until everything stopped and he found himself lying in the path.The lariat’s loop bound his body. Like a tight fishing line, it ran straight to the stranger’s saddle. At the end of the rope, the horse loomed above the boy, larger than any horse he had seen. It stared at him, ears pointed like spears. Loud blasts of air came from its nostrils. It moved the thing in its mouth, and streams of white foam splattered its chest. When the beast’s hooves hit the rocks, sparks flew. It danced around and the foreigner yelled at it.
“Whoa, Buddy. Whoa. I know he smells like shit. It won’t kill you! Whoa, you . . .”
Eventually, the horse settled and stood stiffly, arching its neck, and backing to keep the rope taut. The man looked directly at the child. The boy had seen such men before, but never had been close enough to one to see his pale blue eyes. He became stiff, shaking. “Y’re in a hell of a fix, ain’t you?”
He couldn’t understand the stranger’s words, but he smiled in a way that told the boy what he already knew: This man would enjoy killing him. His father had warned of these people and kept their band out of their way. The warnings had not been strong enough.
His breath came in fast pants, and his heart felt like it would jump out. He shook all over. The man began reeling him in, hand over hand, looping the lariat on his saddle, dragging him across the rough ground. Rocks struck him, bloodying his face, bruising his flesh. The smashing impacts dazed him, and as they did, he realized that a monster was ahead of him. It was a two-headed demon, both horse and man. A skin- walker, a giant of the mountains, come to eat his flesh. His body moved like he had the falling sickness, shaking out of control.
Windborne streams of sweat and saliva lashed him as he groveled. Rowels of spurs that were as big across as his face spun and flashed. The interloper’s stench assailed him. The closer he got, the more terrifying the monster became. The giant horse began tossing its head. Its feet started moving up and down so fast that sparks flew without stopping. When he finally was dragged next to the animal, he felt nothing: no pain, no injury—only terror. His body went limp. The horse spun away from him and tried to run.
“Knock it off. It’s just a kid. A fucking digger kid.”
The rider reined hard and finally, the animal stood still. When that happened, the cowboy yanked him up, dangling him in front of his face like a fish on a line. They looked into each other’s eyes. The man was opening his mouth to speak, when suddenly the boy’s paralysis lifted. In that instant of freedom, the child lunged, tearing into the flesh of his captor’s chest.
“God damn it to hell!”
The man shouted, and then struck him. A blow made his ears ring. Another blow, and everything went blank. When he could remember again, he was tied face down on the saddle in front of his captor. Something was stuffed in his mouth, and something else was tied around his head.
“Try that again, you little bastard!”
The other rider returned with the smaller boy over his saddle. “The big ones got away,” he said to the first.
“This little fucker bit me, damn it to hell!” He rubbed his chest. “Damn waste of effort. You can’t do nuthin’ with this bunch. They’re never gonna educate ‘em fit for nuthin’.”
“It’s a job, Roy. It pays good.”
A third rider came up behind them and halted his horse. “Slim pickin’s,” he said, eyeing the two little boys.
“The rest of ‘em high-tailed it up that draw.”
“Why, hell, that’s a blind draw, I bet,” the third one said, grinning. “It’d be easy as shootin’ fish in a barrel.” The other two grinned back. “Throw me them runts, an’ you go get the rest.We’ll save the tax-payers some money.” The boy was thrown across the front of the third man’s saddle. It wasn’t hard to do: He was small, even for his People. His younger brother was tossed on top of him. When they ended up back at the band’s camp, the boys were dumped into a mule-drawn wagon, balong with some girls their age and some older kids that were too slow making their escape.
Dazed and exhausted, the boy saw his father standing in the open space before their shelters. His face was bruised and bloody and men with guns surrounded him. The agent waved a paper in his face.
“I do, too, have the right. My right is here. They gotta go to school— it’s the law. We’ll make ‘em civilized Christians. We’ll make ‘em good Americans, every one.” The children sat in the wagon, crying silently, looking at their parents who stared back with hopeless tears. The mothers’ faces beseeched the agent and his hired hands. The boy sat looking at his father. Why didn’t he do something? He looked for his mother, and then remembered she ran away with his baby brother and sister when the scouts came back saying that the white men brought a wagon. The band knew what that meant. The boy’s father had protected his clan as long as he could, moving far into the wilderness. They couldn’t go any farther.
His father was a man of peace: surely he could reason with these white men. Then the group waited, silently, until the two riders returned.
“Couldn’t find any of ‘em! That’s the last of the bunch I reckon we’ll get. The rest got clean away.” One rider chuckled (he’d have to clean his guns when he got home).
As the wagon pulled out, the boy’s father came to life. He remembered the words in English, though he knew his father spoke in their language; try as he might, he couldn’t remember a word of his tribe’s tongue.
His father shouted, “I will come for you!”
He called his son’s name, but his mind was a blank. He couldn’t remember his own name, which his father had given him in their lan- guage; he couldn’t remember it at all.
“I will come for you! I must move the camp. I must find the boys who ran. Then I will come for you!” The wagon pulled out and his father ran beside it, looking in the boy’s eyes, “You are the leader, my son! You will be Chief one day. You will be great. I will come for you, my son. I will come for you, or the sun will cease to shine.”
His father couldn’t keep up. The boy watched him recede into the distance. That was the last time he saw his father. It was 1918.
The old man lay back on his bed, gasping at what he had remembered. Starlight illuminated the interior of the lean-to, but all he could see was his father’s form, hands grabbing the wagon as he ran along- side so many years before. The sun was going down, and it outlined his father’s head, the bright light surrounding him like a halo. He turned to the wall, pinching back tears.
Even with his eyes closed, his mind showed him the canyon where it happened as clearly as if he stood in the path. A brilliant blue sky arched overhead. Canyon walls topped by spiky pine trees loomed on each side. The cheerful sound of water played down the stream bed, dancing past rocks and trees with fluttering leaves. He and his brother ran through the scene, a beautiful place where something ugly occurred. He had lived perhaps eight summers when he was stolen.
The old man’s mind was an open corridor. That morning, he could see everything he had ever done and feel each event as though it were happening. Bud Creeman had told him about amusement parks; the Shaman had never been to one. He told him about a ride where you got in a little boat that floated in a darkened indoor stream. Without warning, the channel would widen and— wham— a scene would appear. This morning, the boat took the direction it had been commanded, going back in his life. He would watch whatever it presented, knowing the Great One willed it, knowing he would need what was revealed in the week to come.
He reflected upon what would soon unfold. Thousands were coming to be with him and learn what he had to teach. The coming week was the last Meeting—the retreat had grown beyond anything he imagined.
It was the last chance that many of his People would have to meet him and imbibe wisdom of their Ancestors.Preparations had been made to assure the Meeting’s success. The campgrounds were groomed and facilities repaired. The Founders had studied everything touching the Meeting, making sure they were ready. Paul Running Bird’s report, tabulating the data he’d gleaned, was part of the preparations.
Grandfather knew all this, just as he knew that those questions Paul had presented to him last night were the reason he felt the pain of remembering his past. He wanted to hate Paul’s report, but knew that everything that happened was the work of the Great One.
Here’s a video to give you the look and feel of the book:
Wonder what a book’s characters look like? Here’s a special video prepared by author Sandy Nathan to show you what she thinks the characters ofThe Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy look like:
TECOLOTE: THE LITTLE HORSE THAT COULD
Coming out simultaneaously with The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could presents a heartwarming tale of survival and overcoming pretty much every obstacle life can throw out. This is the true story of Tecolote, a Peruvian Paso colt born prematurely on a freezing night. Join Tecolote as he fights for his life and grows strong and big, becoming a member of the herd and trusted riding horse. Illustrated with photos of Tecolote and his friends taken when the action was happening. Great for kids of all ages.
Here’s a video that gives you the heart of the book:
One of the really great things about being on a spiritual path is that you get to eat crow really often. A few days ago, I wrote and published a scathing article talking about monster houses and other things, my dad, Andy Oddstad among them. (My dad built houses, but not monster houses.)
How scathing? I spoke of the “McMansions littering our hillsides” and hoped that the home in which I grew up “doesn’t get transformed into an ostentatious edifice fit for pseudo-royalty.” I closed with an indictment of modern capitalism: “Today, companies are about marketing position and branding, about the “USPs”–unique selling propositions––magic words to charm the consumer into buying an illusion that she can’t afford and doesn’t need.”
Those words scathe effectively.
A TRUE MONSTER HOUSE: The Palace of Versailles was home to Actual Royalty. I’m illustrating this post with photos the prototypical Monster House, elegant in every way, full of pretension––I mean, if you think you’re God, you could live in this house with a straight face––and the best of everything. It differs from modern monster houses in that its real, way upscale, and conforms to the principles of design, listed down below.
Only a few hours after posting my position statement on large houses and the contemporary practice of flashing every dime you’ve got, I went to a social function at a home that can be described as plu-perfect, and huge. A monster house, by size, anyways. Oops.
I wandered around the edifice, marveling at the workmanship, the 3 ” thick marble counters, wood floors, plaster finishes, gorgeous fenestration (windows), views of the Pacific Ocean from every window. Sweeping panoramas of the City of Santa Barbara, offshore islands, gardens. Everything.
This was the most beautiful home I’d ever seen, and a monster house. I’d never want to own it: I couldn’t afford the gardener, much less the utility bills. But, wow. And what a spiritual feeling about the place.
Plus the owners were really nice, humble, kind people.
Never underestimate the value of nice landscaping in increasing property values. Look what it did for Versailles!
My cheeks burned and I felt that inevitable, “I blew it,” walking around that beautiful place. So what’s wrong with this picture? First off, my original mind set was that big equals evil. Big is just big. And wealth is OK. Better than OK. Where’s the wisdom in this experience?
I immediately thought of the four goals of life. You know them:
These are straight from the Guru Gita, an ancient Vedic text. Other philosophic systems will have different goals, but I like the simplicity of the four above.
Dharma refers to living a spotless life by whatever moral system you espouse.
Artha––well, we all know what wealth means. Pile it on. My mom had a great poster in her house: A southern mansion with the line, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” That’s easy.
Kama––kama as in kama sutra. Pleasure. Better far better life goal than pain. Pain comes on its own.
And Moksha––liberation. Means liberation from the wheel of life, attainable by union with God.
The King’s Bedroom at Versailles: With the right karma, you could sleep here. Of course, it didn’t do much for Louis XVI.
The magnificent edifice I wandered into after my rant about monster houses was the fruit of a life well lived. The individuals owning the house had all four goals, in spades. The wealth one, artha, very obviously. And humility.
Versailles, Beautiful, Ornate, Over the Top. Sparked a revolution.
The difference between a monster house and a very large and beautiful house rests in the five principles of design:
And one other, which I forget. Let’s call it taste, or beauty.
Sandy Nathan is the winner of seventeen national awards, in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.
Her books are: (Click link for more information) The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money
Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could
Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice
Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with a late (very late) 2011 publication date, or early 2012. If you liked The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.
Okay, so it’s a little after Father’s Day––the thought was there. One of the terrific things about the Internet is that it brings people together. People you didn’t even know introduce themselves. About a year ago, I heard from the daughter of the folks who bought my family home in Atherton CA about 35 years ago.
It is a special house. Built in six weeks (that’s right, 6 weeks) in the middle of a carpenter’s strike (you got that right, too), the house was destined to be memorable. Not because it was a McMansion of the type littering our hillsides today. The home my parents, Andy and Clara Oddstad, built in the 1950s was a comfortable rancher on an acre. It had a pool, but it wasn’t a showy house. Atherton always has been a pretty fancy address, a bit more restrained in those days.
The move from San Francisco was a huge leap for my folks, both of whom had grown up on the rough side of the Great Depression. “If we can’t afford it, Honey Chum, we can always sell it,” my dad told my mom, thinking positively. (He called her Honey Chum, typical of those goofy ’50s nicknames.)
My dad was Andy Oddstad, President of Oddstad Homes, which was at that time closing in on being the largest residential developer in northern California. He started out as a carpenter, which is why the guys built his house during a strike. He had been––maybe still was––an AFL/CIO Carpenters’ Union member.
The house was built, we moved into it and spent many happy years living there–-my folks didn’t have to sell it after all. Oddstad Homes became the biggest home builder in northern California by a long stretch.
In 1964, my dad was killed by a negligent and possibly drunk driver. Everything changed. After a few years, my mom found the house was too big and too laden with memories. She sold it and moved on––regretting the sale almost immediately, actually.
The house passed from our hands but continued to glow in our memories.
What a surprise when I heard from Stephanie, the daughter of the people who bought our house! She found me searching online. We hit it off by email right away. The house continued to charm: Her family lived there for years, kids growing up with memories as glowing as mine. She told me stories of the house––including a real ghost story! I was so glad that our old home had been so cherished.
Recently, Stephanie emailed me again to say that her parents had sold the house. It was time for them to leave. But they didn’t want to move. None of the solutions Stephanie showed them felt like their nest of so many years. Other houses just weren’t the same.
“I found one house for them, and just felt ‘This is the one.’ I cut through all the ‘We don’t like it’ and got them to move.” When she was moving her parents into their new home, she found something in a kitchen drawer. It was a brochure by the developer, pointing out a philosophy of building. The brochure dated from the 1960s and was signed by the builder, Andy Oddstad.
From the minute Stephanie’s folks knew they were living in an Oddstad Home, they settled down and felt they were in the right place.
An amazing story, yes? It brought tears to my eyes. I hope the new owner of our families’ home at 69 Catalpa Drive in Atherton hears it. I hope the simple and comfortable home that we knew doesn’t get transformed into an ostentatious edifice fit for pseudo-royalty.
What did the brochure say that prompts me to post it here? The text of the message is below. It’s a clarion call of an era based on true value, not show and appearance. Listen to my dad’s words:
The brochure’s title: FARM HILL
“WE FIRMLY BELIEVE that every home buyer should select a home with an eye on investment, as well as a place to live. We firmly believe that every builder has a responsibility for the kind of homes he creates. We accept this responsibility. As local builders, not here for a day on a quick investment, standing behind the 8,000 homes we have already constructed in the bay area, we realize that keeping an eye on the investment value of your home is a solid, responsible way to do business.
“We have carefully selected conservative designs because experience tells us this is the surest way to keep property values high––for the individual owner and for the community. Fads come and go; we’re here to stay.
“We purchase land in the thriving Bay Area communities, easily accessible to work centers, and because we are a big outfit, we buy big––we develop the land ourselves put in the improvements: roads, sidewalks, and sewers; no middle men [implying] no hidden costs when you buy one of our homes.
“Our production is enormous. Each working hour, a new foundation is poured; each working week, 40 new homes are completed. Skilled crews go from job to job without wasted motion or lost time; ready made forms, jigs, scaffolding and labor saving equipment go with them to save time and expense––so we can deliver a better home, better built, at a lower price.
“The executives in our organization came up from the ranks. I myself was a carpenter. I still am. I take pride in the materials and the workmanship that go into each of our homes––from the foundations to the trim. You are invited to come out and watch us build––to see for yourself why our homes cost less when you buy … are worth more if you sell.”
We’re in the middle of the Great Recession now. I read my dad’s words and thought, “If our society had continued to be base itself on the solid reality and true financial conservatism that this brochure demonstrates, we wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in.”
Today, companies are about marketing position and branding, about the “USPs”–unique selling propositions––magic words to charm the consumer into buying an illusion that she can’t afford and doesn’t need.
My dad’s words on a forgotten brochure reminded me of who he was. I could almost hear his voice. Growing up around Andy Oddstad was a lot like growing up in the Marines––he was very demanding. He required excellence of everyone around him. But he had something very valuable to say and a product to offer. Mostly, the way he lived––athlete, body builder, community member, husband, father, philosopher––was his message.
Andy Oddstad & Triff Trifeletti
Thank you, dad, and many thanks to all those who worked for Oddstad Homes and with him. I remember Triff Trifelletti, Gordon Hanson, John O’Malley, Chuck Jonas and so many others who worked with and for Oddstad Homes. And of course, I love and remember my dear auntie Elma Mendola, who worked with my dad from the beginning, along with my mom, Clara Oddstad.
As of 1964 when my dad was killed, Oddstad Homes had completed over 14,000 homes, 2,500 apartment units, three shopping centers, a youth center, and a couple of churches in the San Francisco Bay Area. An incredible legacy of achievement.
I often wonder what my dad would think of the world today if he could see it. He died before the Beatles became popular, when a really nice house could be purchased in the SF Bay Area for $36,000, when cars had fins and so did guys’ hair styles. He would not be able to believe housing prices or the consumer lifestyle of today.
Sometimes networking on the Net isn’t about wasting time, it’s about remembering what’s important.
This Lightning-blasted Tree Reminds Me of God's Power.
“In God we trust” appears on our currency. These words are controversial. They prompt some people to fight for their removal, while others insist that they belong on our money and everywhere else.
I ask: Do we trust God? If so, which one? I’ll explain.
I recently had a flamboyant lesson in paying attention. Paying attention to what I thought and believed–and what I worshiped. And also in paying attention to where I put my feet.
By May 2009, I was a mess. In 2008, I wrote manuscripts for three sci-fi books, got the first book of the Bloodsong Series, Numenon,into print and launched, and charged ahead with marketing activities.
In my spare time, I had major surgery on my ankle. My surgeon fused the foot bone to the leg bone, the only thing possible to fix the arthritis in the joint. (Yes, it hurt. Recovery has been slow.)
I added on-line book marketing to the mix in 2009-and began obsessing about my Amazon sales figures, posting on writers’ and marketers’ blogs, writing four of blogs of my own, and bringing out Kindle editions of my books. And Twittering!It worked: People learned my name. Kindle sales soared.
But I had to keep at it, working hard every day. If I relaxed, I’d fall behind the hordes of authors more dedicated to tweaking the system than me.
* * *
I was ready for a meltdown and knew it. I’m a long time observer of my inner state, or spirit. The first definition of spirit on my computer is “a vital force that characterizes a living being as being alive.” Being alive interests me.
Riding or walking through our Santa Ynez hills is a balm to my soul.
Things weren’t all bad. When my fused ankle healed enough for me to walk, I had resumed (slowly and carefully) a ritual of many years. A circular path meanders around our ranch. I’ve walked that path every day, contemplating the world and the state of my soul. This walk is a form of prayer.
When I’m in good shape inside, I look at the golden hills around me, feel the breezes, and hear the birds’ cheerful calls. My heart opens and a blast of light and love bursts forth. I become a clear lens, open to the will of the unfathomable power that created and sustains the universe.
In this state, I can write words worth reading.
As May 2009 approached, my walks reflected my soul’s condition. Exhausted and trying to keep going, I tottered along, piling through every mental “to do” list I’d ever made.
Far from being a clear explosion of energy, my heart’s well was like some of the koi ponds I’ve seen: a scummy, turgid hole that no self-respecting fish would enter voluntarily. I swam in a nasty soup created by my thoughts and obsessive actions.
One day, I heard an an inner voice as I walked. It said, “I believe in a shiftless god.”
I stopped on the path and laughed. What a great book title! But that was it: I was worshiping a supreme power that was unreliable, uncaring, and prone to quit when needed It most.
This shiftless god required ceaseless appeasing. I had to slave for every crumb of success, every review, radio appearance, and book sale. Nothing came from the bounty of an all-knowing being that loved me and wished me well.
I was worshiping a “god” reflecting my own state of mind.
* * *
I felt lousy, but knew what to do. I needed to make my way back to the real God, the benevolent Creator of heaven and earth, the fountain of love and mercy that I’ve experienced so often in my life. I also had to put the right Sandy in control of my life. The deepest Sandy, my own true Self.
I knew exactly how to accomplish the transformation: Go to New Mexico. The area around the City of Santa Fe is like spiritual catnip to me. A couple of weeks there, meditating and doing spiritual practice, and I’d be ready to hit Amazon and Twitterland like a linebacker. I’d be able to break the writer’s block that had me completely foiled in my attempts to work on Numenon’s sequel.
NOT. What we think is going to happen and what happens can be very different.
My husband and I headed off to our place near Santa Fe in early May. Unfortunately, I came down with the flu a few days before we left. The symptoms were so bad that I looked up Swine Flu on the Net. My flu lacked the high fever, but had all the other attributes of that nasty porcine virus.
The kidney infection that I got on top of the flu turned my body into a torture chamber.
No one gets a kidney infection and the flu. No one goes on vacation in the condition I was in.
* * *
The flu ran its course and the tons of antibiotics my doctor prescribed did the trick. Days after arriving in New Mexico, I was able to wobble around on my I-thought-healed, fused ankle. I felt better; the Santa Fe magic was working. A smile lit my face.
Until I stepped in the hole.
Actually, it wasn’t a hole; it was a rut. Not a big rut, such as a large truck might make. More of a slight incline from the tire of a small car. A patch of not too level dirt that I stepped on with my bad leg without noticing it.
All I felt was a little crunch on the outside of the fused ankle, not even a sound or a pain. Just a little sensation of doom. Having a bad back, I know all about such sensations. If I had felt that little twinge in my back, I knew I’d be flat on my back in agony for three weeks.
As it was, a purple, cucumber-shaped swelling lodged under the anklebone on each side of my foot. The swelling ran up my leg. When it got to my (previously totally replaced) knee, that joint ballooned, quickly resembling a cantaloupe. Hard, firm, and definitely not ripe, my knee bulged into a form I’d never seen.
All I wanted was my surgeon in Los Angeles, but I knew that I’d never make it through the airports to get to him. I hurt so much that I wasn’t capable of calling his office to ask for advice. I did what I knew he would say, “Rest, ice, keep your ankle above your heart.”
After a week I’d improved enough to call the doctor’s office. “Did you get it X rayed? The bruising sounds like you chipped a bone,” his nurse said.
* * *
I’m spilling all this not as a ploy for sympathy, but to tell you about my life. Physical illness and injury have been a large part of the challenges I’ve faced in this incarnation. Maybe I’m trying to get it all done so I don’t have to go through this stuff again in a future go-round. (This explanation serves if you believe in reincarnation. I’m not sure that I do.)
For whatever reason, I’ve had lots of really rotten physical stuff happen to me. It’s the learning I must process in this life. Your task is undoubtedly different, but I’m sharing “our vacation in Santa Fe” to illustrate the fact that dinner at your mother-in-law’s, or whatever bedevils you, may not be so bad.
The thing about the ankle cucumbers and cantaloupe knee is that they stopped me dead. I’m a work-o-holic. If possible, I would work 24 hours a day. But there I was, flat on my back, unable to move. In too much discomfort to do anything. That included obsessing about Amazon sales.
My experience is that God will do anything necessary to get you to listen. This case pulled out the stops: He/She/It had me powerless.
The meditation retreat portion of our vacation began in earnest.
And it worked.
Hitting bottom is the essence of spiritual healing as I have experienced it. As a burned out young mother and graduate student, a burned out doctoral student, a burned out author, and finally a burned out lady with vegetables for leg joints–all the times in my life I’ve wiped myself out–I found getting to a dead stop is the key to turning around.
This is not fun. One of the things that I realized as I lay with my leg propped up on pillows is that my days of riding horses are probably over. If I could hurt myself as badly as I did stepping on a tiny ridge of dirt, what would happen if my mare got silly going through a gate and whacked my foot into a fence post? What if she fell and landed on my injured leg? Doesn’t require much imagination to figure out the consequences.
I also realized that I probably can’t go to the Gathering, the Native American spiritual retreat that inspired my first book, Stepping off the Edge. The retreat is in Tennessee and I can’t see myself able to negotiate the plane changes of the cross-country flight, picking up a rental car, and finding my way out into the Cherokee National Forest to the retreat grounds. This almost killed me. I spent some time boo-hooing.
Sharing one’s insights with another person is key in healing. I told my husband what I’d realized and he was relieved. I’m a hard dog to make heel, and he was afraid of what might happen to me if I continued my bull-headed ways.
I’m not going to write a book on spiritual practice and how to heal your soul. I already have: Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice. I recommend this book to you. It’s got every trick I’ve learned earning my two Master’s degrees, my 34 year meditation practice, and lots of personal growth. This book shows you what happens in spiritual healing and how to do it.
After you bottom out, the real God can finally get through. Healing is a matter of listening to what’s presented to you. It may seem trivial as it happens.
For instance, I belong to a book club. The meeting was set for two days after we got back from Santa Fe. By purest happenstance, the book for that month was Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza. I downloaded it onto by beloved Kindle and began to read. It’s the story of the author’s experience hiding in a 3 foot by 5 foot bathroom with seven other women. They were there for 3 months as rampaging Hutus stalked them just outside.
I feared that the book would be a nightmare of proselytizing and genocide. Forget my fear: This book is a miracle, the finest example of contemporary Christian mysticism I have read. Ilibagiza is Catholic and her faith shines in this book, as well at the living presence of Jesus Christ. She outlines miraculous experiences occurring time after time after time, as she prayed to God for physical as well as spiritual protection. She came out of her ordeal whole and inspired, stepping into a life she loves.
Flat on my back, with no resistance to anything, I cried through the whole thing. Left to Tell’s words kindled the flame of my own spiritual roots. By the time I finished, my soul was blazing. I was in touch with the real God, my Christian roots, and the power of prayer and meditation. My transforming journey began with reading Left to Tell.
Healing is about collapse of what doesn’t work, surrender to a greater reality (God, a Higher Power, Whatever), acceptance of one’s errors and a turning to a new way. That’s pretty well known and straightforward.
What’s not so well know is that healing and spiritual practice is a blast. The hallmark of spirit is bliss. Don’t buy anybody’s words if you can’t feel the bliss behind them.
Also–did you know that the Asian concept of chakras, those invisible energy centers aligned up your spine that spin when you’re inspired, is absolutely true? So is kundalini–the uncoiling spiritual energy that starts at the base of the spine and moves upward, striking the charkas as it goes.
Providing the original and ultimate meaning of “ring my chimes.”
Yep, once I got past the hard stuff like swollen ankles and exhaustion, the good times rolled. Spiritual energy started to flow and my charkas shone and spun in vivid colors. A spiritual seeker can lights, hear bells, and have visions, getting ripped out of his or her mind. This one sure did.
The trip ended up a glorious success. I’m home, feeling no pressure to do anything but write this blog piece. This is first on the agenda, then we’ll see what’s next.
I feel like a giant and very trustworthy hand has reached into my life and changed my direction. I don’t feel any compulsion or worry. I’m not concerned about my book sales. Certainly not Twitter or go on-line.
This will come in time, I’m sure, but I won’t act until told to by the real God, the one you can trust.
Sandy Nathan: "It's about the good times! May they all be good times!"
Remember: No shipping for purchases of two or more books from Vilasa Press. Contact Barry at Vilasa Press for details. email@example.com
A message from Sandy Nathan:
“I’ve been thrilled and shocked and grateful this spring as the book contests announced their winners. Numenon won two more national awards in prestigious contests. All the information about Numenon’s wins is below. I’d like to invite you to read my book. I spent years writing it and fine-tuning it until it said what it was supposed to say. More years getting it published. Now you can reap the fruit of my work and read my book at your leisure.
“I’m hard at work rewriting, re-visioning, Mogollon, Numenon’s sequel. I think you’ll agree that the promise of Numenon is more than delivered in its sequel.
“I appreciate all of you who have purchased Numenon and given me such wonderful reviews. Please let your friends know about Numenon if you’re so moved. We authors need a boost, too!
“All the best on your journey,
NUMENON’S BOOK CONTEST WINS:
Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!
In May 2009, Numenon won the 2009 SILVER NAUTILUS AWARD for INDIGENOUS/MULTICULTURAL FICTION. The Nautilus Award was established to “change the world one book at a time.” It is devoted to “Recognizing Books and Audio Books that Promote Spiritual Growth, Conscious Living, and Positive Social Change and stimulate the ‘imagination’ and inspire the reader to ‘new possibilities’ for a better world.” Previous Nautilus winners include: Deepak Chopra, M.D., Thich Nnat Hanh, Jean Houston, PhD., Eckhart Tolle, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Andrew Weil, M.D.
(The bestselling book, The Shack, was also a 2009 Silver Nautilus Award winner.)
Bill Miller gives a Saturday night concert at the Gathering.
The Holston Conference Gathering 2009 will be held September 19th & 20th 2009 atCoker Creek Village.The Gathering is sponsored by the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Native American Ministries Team. This year marks the Gathering’s 10th anniversary!
Once again, we are blessed to have Bill Miller, the incredibly talented musician, artist, and speaker, as the Gathering’s spiritual leader. Among many other honors, Bill has won two Grammy Awards and a lifetime Nammy Award. This year, he traveled to Israel where he performed his symphony, The Last Stand, with the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra. The was the first time a Native American symphony was performed in Israel and it was a terrific success. An amazingly prolific and insightful man, I’m sure that Bill will have many new thoughts and feelings to share with us.
The cover of Stepping Off the Edge. Bill Miller's Portrait and dancer Stanley Bell at the Gathering are shown on this cover.
This is Sandy Nathan, a great friend of the Gathering. Years ago, when I first heard about the retreat, I packed my bag and headed to green Tennessee as fast as I could. The Gathering was such a powerful experience that it inspired me to write a book. Several chapters of the book, Stepping Off the Edge: Learning and Living Spiritual Practice, occur in the Gathering. The book went on to win six national awards.
I also volunteered to put up and maintain the Gathering’s web site. I think it’s a lovely site, but being a “web mistress” leads me to ask: Are computers our friends or enemies? My old computer died a month or so ago after a long illness. I got a new one. None of the programs from my old computer work with the new one, so we have to update and upgrade everything, including the program I use for the Gathering’s web site. At this point, I can’t even get onto the site or my old files. The upgrading process isn’t going as fast as I’d like.
Meanwhile, people are emailing me, wanting to know about the Gathering 2009’s dates and times. Argghh! It’s so frustrating.
I decided to write this blog article about the Gathering 2009 to give people the information they need in this interim period. I’ll have the “real” Gathering 2009 announcement and info up just as soon as we’ve overcome our programming problems. What’s on this blog post should give you what you need right now. Keep scrolling down: There’s lots of info after I sign off.
To get you in the mood: A SLIDE SHOW OF THE GATHERING If you’re new to the Gathering and wondering if you should go, or if you’re an old timer and wouldn’t miss a year, this show will prepare you for the Gathering 2009.
If you would like more information about the Gathering than is available on the Gathering’s web site, my book Stepping Off the Edge is available as a Kindle for a thrifty 99 cents. In addition to the chapters which occurred at the Gathering, the book contains my line drawings of the Gathering’s people, and an exclusive interview by Bill Miller. Click here to go to the Kindle store.
All the best and hope to see you in Coker Creek this September,
Head Lady Dancer, Siouxsan Robinson (Lakota Blackfoot), & Head Man Dancer, Charles Robinson (Choctaw) at the Gathering 2007.
The Gathering is September 19 & 20 at Coker Creek Village.
Registration Deadline is 9/5/09.
Refund Deadline is 9/5/09.
Deadline for Complimentary T Shirt: Your Registration must be received by 9/4/09.
REGISTRATION: Note that you have a long time before the registration deadline, so no need to worry at this date of 5/8/09. A downloadable registration form is available on the Gathering’s web site.The dates, etc., will be updated soon.
COSTS & DAILY SCHEDULE : The daily schedule for the retreat is the same as that shown on the Gathering’s web site.The costs for year’s registration are exactly the same as those shown on the web site. (Both have “strike over” lines through them, but they are correct for 2009.)
T SHIRTS: Those whose registrations are received by September 4, 2009 will receive a complimentary event T-shirt. This year’s shirt will feature a new design created by award-winning artist, Emerson Begay.
Refer to Registration Form for list of sizes. ONLY those whose registrations are received in time to be submitted with our order on Sep. 4th will receive complimentary shirts. A limited number will be available for purchase at the event for $15.
PLEASE REGISTER EARLY TO INSURE THAT YOU GET YOUR SIZE AT NO ADDITIONAL COST!!
WORKSHOPS: The 2009 Workshops are as follows:
A. CHEROKEE POTTERY
Mary T. Newman
Learn how pottery was made in the old days from potter Mary T. Newman. This class will also include instruction and hands-on opportunities for working in clay. Of Cherokee descent. Mary T. resides in Ashland City, TN. with her family. She conducts pottery workshops and displays throughout the southeast and as far away as Alaska.
B. SPIRIT OF THE DRUM
Learn the basics of pow wow singing and drumming, as well as the important role of the drum in Native culture from full-blood Navajo Emerson Begay.Originally from the Farmington NM area, Emerson, is currently living in Kingsport, TN.
C. POW WOW 101
This workshop is designed for newcomers to pow wows as well as those who have attended pow wows and had questions they were afraid to ask. This class will include pow wow etiquette, explanations of each dance style and the regalia associated with it, other pow wow customs such as giveaways, etc., and a discussion of common mistakes (offensive questions, etc.) often made by unknowing newcomers. Jonathon is Cherokee/Lakota. He grew up on the Qualla boundary in Cherokee,NC where he now lives. Jonathon has been involved in pow wows his entire life in every aspect from champion hoop dancer to MC and judge of dance competitions.
D. MEDICINE BAGS
Learn to make your own medicine bag from accomplished beader Linda Cash. Linda will also discuss the meaning and purpose of medicine bags in Native culture. A native of Clinton, TN., Linda is Cherokee/Metis’. Her exquisite beadwork is museum quality and is treasured by those fortunate enough to own one of her pieces. *THIS IS A TWO-PART CLASS. IF YOU CHOOSE THIS WORKSHOP, YOU WILL TAKE IT BOTH DAYS. PLEASE DO NOT CHOOSE A SECOND WORKSHOP.
E. MAKE YOUR OWN DRUM
Construct your own drum in the traditional way as you learn about the importance of the drum from full-blood Navajo award winning dancer, artist, and performer Lowery Begay. Lowery grew up in the Farmington ,NM area and now resides in Jonesboro, TN.* THOSE TAKING THIS WORKSHOP WILL BE REQUIRED TO PAY A MATERIALS FEE OF $30 . THIS WILL BE PAID DIRECTLY TO LOWERY AT THE CLASS. THIS WILL BE A TWO-DAY WORKSHOP. IF SIGNING UP FOR THIS WORKSHOP, DO NOT CHOOSE A SECOND ONE.
F. FOOD FOR SPIRIT
Charles will share his insights on the connection between Native spirituality and Christianity and how God reveals Himself to us through His creation. This workshop will enhance your relationship with our Creator, regardless of your personal beliefs. Charles (Choctaw) and his wife Siouxsan operate the Red Road Ministry in Franklin, TN.
G. BLACKFOOT CULTURE/COOKING
Siouxsan (Blackfoot/Lakota) will share with us what life on a western reservation was like for past generations, how it has changed in the present day, and her vision for future generations. **This workshop will include some discussion of the treatment of Native American children in boarding schools which some may find disturbing.
Originally from the Rosebud Reservation, Siouxsan now resides in Franklin, TN with her husband Charles and their five children.
H. CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES
Scott Crisp and Jamie Russell
Children ages 12 and under will be educated and entertained with activities ranging from stickball to storytelling. * If we have a wide range of ages, we will separate into appropriate groups.
Sandy Nathan’s book, NUMENON, has been named among the Semi-finalists in the in VISIONARY FICTION in the 2009 Independent Publisher Awards, the “IPPYs”. The judging will continue, naming finalists and Gold, Silver, & Bronze medal winners.
The “IPPY” Awards have recognized the best indie-published books of the year since 1996.
This is the fourth national honor for Numenon. The book recently won the 2009 Silver Nautilus Award in the Indigenous/Multicultural Category.
The Nautilus Award was established to find and reward distinguished literary contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, high-level wellness, green values, responsible leadership and positive social change. The Nautilus Awards are dedicated to “changing the world one book at a time.”
Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!
NUMENON ALSO WON TWO NATIONAL AWARDS PRE-PUBLICATION:It won the BEST BOOKS AWARD in VISIONARY FICTION from USA Book News. Numenon also won the NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARD in RELIGIOUS FICTION.
The judging continues in the the 2009 Nautilus and IPPY Awards. Gold Nautilus Award winners will be announced on May 29th. IPPY Finalists and Winners are being posted daily. The finalists for the IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Award in New Age have yet to be announced: Numenon is entered in that category.
“I’d like to thank everyone for their support of me and Numenon,” says author Sandy Nathan. “Your prayers and good wishes are much appreciated––and still needed. We’re at the finish line now. Please continue to send your good energy,” says Sandy Nathan.
“If you’re interested in buying Numenon, I would urge you to buy the version that has won the prizes: the first edition hardback.
“The hardback edition has been winning prizes because it’s a good book–and it’s drop dead gorgeous. The dust jacket is beautifully designed and printed. The Numenon logo, title and author’s name are embossed; running your hand over the jacket’s surface is lovely. Under the protective jacket, the book’s black, three-part cover is stamped in gold. The Numenon logo is on the front, the spine’s design matches the dust jacket’s.
“The book’s endpapers are a golden color, printed with an artist’s rendering of the Mogollon Bowl, the site of the retreat to which the caravan is headed. None of the other versions have this. The book’s interior is as elegant as the rest of the book, with the Numenon logo heading each chapter. The book is printed on acid-free paper: It will last a very long time.
“If you love books and want a book you will keep and treasure, this is your edition. If you’re looking for a special gift, here it is.
“We also offer a paperback and Kindle edition through Amazon. We’re offering the KINDLE VERSION FOR AN ASTONISHING 99 CENTS for a limited time. This is a book that’s a winner of four national awards. Wow!
“We’re working on versions for Sony readers and other electronic readers. Those will be coming soon/
Sandy Nathan: "It's about the good times! May they all be good times!"
Once again, thanks for the support and good wishes!
Stepping Off the Edge is a wild ride to sacred places. Includes an exclusive interview with Bill Miller, award winning Native musician, artist, & speaker.
Now you can buy the Kindle edition of Sandy Nathan’s award-winning book, Stepping Off the Edge, for 99 cents! Vilasa Press offers the book at this great price for a limited time only. Click here and go to the Kindle store.
The Kindle edition of Stepping Off the Edgeis absolutely gorgeous: The Native American themed interior and cover converted to the Kindle format better than we hoped. All of Sandy Nathan’s pen and ink drawings are included and look beautiful.
This is the book that proves spiritual studies do not have to be boring. Stepping Off the Edge is part memoir, part self help, part riding lesson (horses play a big part), and all amazing. This book was written duing a period of author Sandy Nathan’s life “that I’m glad is over. Though it provided great material and a way of illustrating everything useful I learned earning 2 master’s degrees and a life of spiritual practice.”
Join Sandy as she finds her roots in Missouri’s Ozarks, travels to Tennessee to a Native American retreat, and meets Bill Miller, multi-Grammy winning musician and artist. Lots more, including the meaning of the word “fault” to people from California.
Come on a spiritual journey with an award winning author!
STEPPING OFF THE EDGEWON SIX NATIONAL AWARDS!
* 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist in New Age (Spirituality/Metaphysics)
* Bronze Medal Winner in Self Help, 2007 IPPY Awards
* National Indie Excellence Awards 2007: Finalist in THREE Categories: Memoir, Self Help, & Spirituality.
FROM THE BACK OF THE BOOK:
When Sandy Nathan set out to write a book about her profound experience at the Gathering, a Native American spiritual retreat, little did she know it would guide her to chronicle a life of stepping off the edge. Again and again , she takes the risks needed for her soul’s growth and vividly presents her personal journey––one of growing into the courageous spiritual being she is. Sandy reminds us we all possess spiritual greatness: It is our birthright.
By walking with Sandy along her path we get more than a glimpse of a person. We get a revealing and inspiring view of her life. Her adventure and the understanding she adds as she writes help us use her experience to enhance out own development. This book does much more than tell about a life: It takes us by the hand (or sometimes by the nose) and leads us to the opportunity afforded by spiritual practice. And practice is the key word.
Stepping Off the Edge is alive with information and inspiration. It is a book about doing. It’s more than a book that describes chocolate cake or even one that tells you how to make chocolate cake. It is a book that gets your mouth watering for chocolate cake and then lets you loose in the kitchen stocked with recipes and everything you need to make your own chocolate cake. With fudge frosting. And chocolate chips if you want them.
In this fascinating narrative you will encounter the basics of prayer, meditation, worship, spiritual retreat, and how a life can become dedicated to the pursuit of experiencing the divine. You will even find how to domesticate your mind and make it an ally in your quest for inner knowledge.
It is said that the path to self-awareness is a solitary one. Stepping Off the Edge opens you to the possibility that it can be fun, challenging and rewarding.
Sandy Nathan & Bill Miller at the Gathering Book Signing
WHAT DO THE CRITICS SAY?
“This is a dynamic book. It’s alive with Ms. Nathan’s passion, and her presence is in every line, teaching and learning with you, helping you when you stumble, because she’s stumbled too. It’s rich with energy and meaning.” – Gerald DiPego, Screenwriter, Phenomenon
“Sandy’s book has got to be one of the most fun to read books about spirituality ever written. She takes the reader along on her adventures with a down to earth approach and style that keeps the reader in touch–with both reality and spirituality. Informative, entertaining, and enlightening.” Natural Horse Magazine, Volume 8 Issue 5