Entries Tagged 'SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA HISTORY' ↓

Native American Students Need Prom Dresses!

With our emphasis on history and Indian cultures, we forget that  today’s Native young people live in two worlds, that of their heritage and that of every other American teenager.  Those of us who strive for equal education for them must not forget that they are also very much a part of today’s social world, with the same hopes and dreams of the majority teens.

The Cheyenne River Youth Project has a request that will bring real happiness to a young person.

DETAILS
We all remember how important prom was. Unfortunately many of the girls on my reservation, the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota, do not have a lot of resources for Prom.

So the Teen Center on the reservation started “Passion for Fashion” where they collect dresses, then the girls get to “shop” for Prom.

Please forward to others (especially college and high school moms and gals who may have some goodies from last year.)

NEEDED:
*formal dresses (new or gently used. all sizes, up to 24)
*formal shoes
*make up
*accessories
*shoes
*evening bags

DEADLINES:

*MAIL: MONDAY FEBRUARY 23

MAILING ADDRESS:
Cheyenne River Youth Project
“Passion for Fashion”
P.O. Box 410 E Lincoln Street
Eagle Butte , SD   57625

Please help if you can, if only by passing this info along to someone who can donate a dress or accessory. Thanks to Vicki Collins of the Holston Conference Gathering and Anne aka “Grandma” for sending this to me.

Sandy Nathan

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IT’S HERE––SANDY NATHAN’S NEW BLOG: YOUR SHELF LIFE

YOUR SHELF LIFE  … How long will you last?Sandy Nathan, award winning author of Stepping Off the Edge and Numenon

Hi, everyone! Getting ready for the holidays? I wanted to let you know that the first post on my new blog YOURSHELFLIFE.COM is up.The blog is open for business, so to speak.

The need for this blog came to me the other day when a friend told me about the horrendous trials she’d been going through.

She described her  misadventures and then said, “I kept thinking about that horse show you wrote about where you worked really hard preparing, and you kept 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 horse show on an earlier post on this blog, but its lessons continued to reverberate in my mind.

I realized what motivates my writing: I want to create material that will encourage, enlighten, and uplift people for a long time. I recognize that books by newly published writers are likely to stay on the bookstore shelves for six months, if that.

I also realized that if I need encouragement and to be reminded of my goals, so do my fellow writers.

That’s what this blog is about. Increasing your shelf life in a rough industry. That covers your work and you. I’m going to have how-to exercises and guest bloggers. Maybe podcasts. You’ll be surprised. So will I.

So hop on over and take a peek, YOURSHELFLIFE!

Happy holidays!

Sandy

We’re talking about shelf life. I was 46 years old when the photo above was taken. That’s really me: No nips and tucks, injections, or fancy lenses. That was then. Time is cruel

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AMAZON BESTSELLER BEST SELLER DAY EXTENDED THROUGH DEC. 10TH

SANDY NATHAN’S AMAZON BESTSELLER DAY!

***My BESTSELLER BEST SELLER DAY came and went.
Jump over to my writers’ blog YourShelfLife.com and find out what I really won––and how it can benefit you.***

The article below was my invitation––and you can still check out the prizes and see the slide show.   Enjoy, Sandy Nathan

Want a taste of what’s we’ve got for you?
Here’s a gift from the HOLSTON CONFERENCE GATHERING,
the Native American spiritual retreat that inspired Sandy Nathan’s book,
STEPPING OFF THE EDGE:
Click and see the slide show!

This is the first of the gifts available to you at Sandy Nathan’s Amazon party.

Things just got rolling at my Amazon e-party when it was time to quit. We’re extending it another day to give more people a chance to participate. You have another chance to buy a great book and get amazing free gifts.

This Amazon party is my holiday gift to you. My book, Stepping Off the Edge, is a mind-bending, spiritual adventure–and the gifts you can get today are a treasure trove. I invite you to come with me and step off the edge.

What is an Amazon E-Party?
If you buy my book through the link below, you will be able to receive terrific gifts from a number of very talented people. I’ll list some here, you can see the whole list through this link: SANDY’S E-PARTY GIFTS!

  • 30% discount on the custom interior and cover of a book from Creative Publishing & Design!
  • An hour’s phone consultation on your book’s title and subtitle from Grammy nominated screenwriter Laren Bright.
  • Tecolote Finds a Friend: A Baby Horse Finds His Place in the World An e book by Sandy Nathan. A lifelong horsewoman, Sandy wrote this true photo story from her ranch for this event. It is available nowhere else.
  • A spectacular slide show from the Holston Conference Gathering, the Native American retreat in Stepping Off the Edge and a personal invitation to attend.
  • Special gifts from (in alphabetical order): Lewis Agrell who does pretty near anything with graphic design, Ilene Dillon the Emotional Pro, country real estate experts Linda Boston Franke & Clark Franke, Mary Patrick Kavanaugh very funny would-be author, self-publishing guru Dan Poynter, super editor Melanie Rigney, Brent Sampson CEO of Outskirts Press, Author Marketing Expert Penny Sansevieri, Jeniffer Thompson the Website Wow woman, ReaderView’s Irene Watson. Who else? Why cowboy and horse trainer Jack Vance, who you really want to know if you have a problem animal. And–sizzling romance and more from Santa Ynez Valley’s Sarah Robbie.

You need to see this bonanza for yourself.  For all the details, visit:
SANDY’S E-PARTY GIFTS!

What is Stepping Off the Edge?

Are you looking for a book that’s a good holiday gift as well as an engaging read? Join me as I tackle some of the major problems of our day: How do you handle an eBay addiction? Wondering about your roots? As in, do you have any? What is spirituality and where do you get it?

In Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice, Sandy Nathan loads her readers in a figurative RV and takes off on a spiritual adventure across the United States. She travels to Missouri’s Ozarks to find her roots and takes you to a Native American retreat in Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest.

This is part memoir, part how-to–lots of easy exercises to try throughout this book–and part amazing. Stepping Off the Edge has won six national awards and garnered rave reviews.

“A fantastic spiritual narrative that is alive with hope and possibility. Sandy Nathan’s journey will inspire you create your own spiritual practice. A highly recommended book for all spiritual seekers.”
USA BOOK NEWS


If you buy my book from Amazon by midnight Wednesday, December 10th 2008, you can get a great book and LOTS more: CHECK OUT THESE GIFTS!

Why Are You Doing All This?

“Your book sounds like a must-read, why are you going to all this trouble to get people to buy it?” an acquaintance asked me, somewhat huffily.

That’s a good question. People don’t buy things automatically, you know. Many of my friends are people who would do almost anything to get a book published. All I can say is, that’s the easy part. People can’t read what they don’t know about. Most people have never heard of Stepping Off the Edge and any number of really excellent books. I want to introduce you to my book and myself.

Stepping Off the Edge
is a book I had no intention of writing. I was busy working on my novels; I had plenty to do. But force I could not resist reached out and grabbed me, hauling me all the way across the United States from California to green Tennessee. I went to a Native American spiritual retreat called the Gathering. Bill Miller, the multi-Grammy winning Native musician, artist & speaker is its spiritual leader. That retreat was such a profound experience that inspired me to write Stepping Off the Edge –which is about lots of things.

I finished the first draft of Stepping Off the Edge on December 22nd. The birth of the holy in this flawed world was very present in my soul. What happened to me that day as I sat at my computer BLEW MY MIND! It’s all there, at the end of Stepping Off the Edge

I invite you to join me in pursuit of the sacred, and the delightful. This book and this party is my gift to you.

Sandy Nathan

“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

Remember, you need to buy the book from Amazon on by midnight December 10th to get the goodies.
CHECK OUT THE GIFTS! AND THE BOOK!



If you buy my book, Stepping Off the Edge, by midnight December 10th, you can receive some truly wonderful gifts–in addition to a great book.

 

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AMAZON BESTSELLER BEST SELLER DAY EXTENDED THROUGH DECEMBER 10TH––SOME OF THE PRIZES!

Sandy NathanSANDY NATHAN Award Winning Author

My Amazon Bestseller Best seller Book Party was December 9 2008. Things were just getting rolling when it was time to stop––so we’ve extended the event though December 10th. Click here to go to the party! 

Click here to see one of the prizes, an amazing slide show from the Gathering, the Native American spiritual retreat which inspired Stepping Off the Edge.

I’m doing one of those “bust into the Amazon bestseller ranks by providing incentives (bribes) to buyers to if they buy on a certain day.” These parties have been around for a while and have been lauded and condemned by many.

I’m doing mine for a bunch of reasons, one of which is the possibility of moving into the Amazon bestsellers with my book Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice. 

Stepping Off the Edge is a spiritual companion and guidebook for the modern age. Its a perfect holiday gift and something you can give to people of all faiths. It contains everything worth remembering that I learned earning my two graduate degrees and lifelong personal spiritual practice. These are the self-help nuggets that I grab onto when my life threatens to take a negative turn.

Sharing my book with you is as important to me as any sales rating. I finished the book’s manuscript on December 22, three days before Christmas. At that time, my soul turned toward the birth of the holy on this flawed planet.

What happened on that day still blows my mind. It’s all there, at the end of Stepping and throughout the book. This book is a mind bending, true, spiritual  journey. I invite you to come with me and step off the edge.

I really invite you to do it on December 9th 2008. That’s my party day, and you won’t believe what my friends will be giving you if you buy my book on Amazon through the special invitation I’ll send you. (Go to my website and sign up for my mailing list NOW. You’ll be sent an invitation automatically.)

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE cover If you buy my book through Amazon’s site, the first great prize you will receive is my book! Stepping Off the Edge has won six national awards and rave reviews. It’s well worth buying and reading in itself.

You’ll get more. When you buy the book through Amazon, use your receipt number to log into a special web page. That will allow you to download all the prizes my friends and I are offering. What are they?

TECOLOTE FINDS A FRIEND: A Baby Horse Finds a Place in the World The first gift is from me. I’ve written an e book for you. Tecolote Finds a Friend: A Baby Horse Learns the Ways of the World. Tecolote was born prematurely on a freezing night. He battled to survive from his first breath and overcame the worst thing that can happen to any youngster. Will he learn to be a member of the herd or stay an outsider forever?

This is the first of the amazing true stories of Rancho Vilasa, our horse ranch, that I’ve made public. The e book features photographs of the horses taken while the story was unfolding. This incredible tale is available only at my Amazon  Bestseller Party. We may make it available for sale later, but for now––this is it.

ARE YOU A WRITER,  AUTHOR, OR PUBLISHER? Here are some prizes for you. I’m sharing my secrets with you. What a truly professional presentation? Check out these people:

  • Ghislain Viau  of Creative Publishing Book Design has offered a discount on the interior design of a book. The discount will be awarded by lottery at the end of my “Amazon day” and is good for three months. If you are a publisher, owner of a small press, or considering self publishing your book, a beautifully designed interior is absolutely necessary to stand up in the marketplace. Ghislain did the interior of my book Numenon, which you can see by clicking on the book’s Amazon page and searching the “look inside” images. You can also see examples of his work on his web page, linked above. I found Ghislain a delight to work with. He was always on time, has superb technical skills, and can manage your project, submitting it to the printer and keeping track of it.
  • Laren Bright, three time Emmy-nominated screen writer and multi-talented, award winning writer, has offered a one-hour telephone consultation on a book title and subtitle. If your book is judged by its cover, it really is judged by its title. The wrong title and subtitle can destroy your book’s chances of success. Professional copy sings and presents your book in its best light. Laren wrote the cover copy––that’s the back and end flaps––for both of my books. He has an amazing capacity for grasping the essence of a book and expressing it in a few compelling words. See sandynathan.com about the books for examples, or check my books on Amazon.
  • Lewis Agrell of the Agrell Group, has offered what I consider a pathbreaking article on book cover design. Lewis drew the map that appears on the end papers of my Numenon. (Unfortunately, Amazon’s search inside feature doesn’t show it. You’ll have to buy the book to see it.) He also designed brochures for both my books, as well as other sales materials for Numenon. And––he designed the e-book which you’ll download when you buy Stepping Off the Edge on my Amazon day. He’s a joy to work with and totally professional.
  • Penny Sansevieri, The Author Marketing Expert TM, is donating some of her writings, possibly chapters from her new, best-selling Red Hot Internet Publicity: An Insider’s Guide to Promoting your Book on the Internet! When you’ve got your book edited, its interior designed, the copy written and the cover ready to go, you need to publicize it. Penny helped me with Stepping Off the Edge. She’s supremely professional and knows her stuff.
  • Jeniffer Thompson, monkey + C + media = designhaus, will offer several chapters of her writing. Want a spectacular website that expresses you perfectly and optimizes your place on the net? That’s what Jeniffer and monkey C media do. You’re looking at an example of her work: Jeniffer and her associates created this blog and my matching website at sandynathan.com   Jeniffer worked tirelessly to create a site I loved. She does that for all her clients.
  • Melanie Rigney, Editor for You, has more than thirty experience as an editor, writer and reporter. Her company, Editor for You, has provided services to more than 200 authors, publishers, and agents. Melanie spent five years as the editor of Writer’s Digest, the leading magazine for writers, and was editorial director for Writer’s Digest Books. She’s worked for the major publishers and is a well known leader of writers’ conferences. Melanie worked on the editing of my book Numenon and she’s edited, copy edited and proofed everything I’ve done since. Melanie has offered some of her writing on editing and writing, and maybe a Kindle download if the conversion can happen soon enough.

WRITING NOT YOUR THING? HOW ABOUT READING?

When you buy my book on Amazon, you’ll be able to download some red hot reading not available anywhere else. Check back. I’ll post what’s coming as details evolve.

WANT A BETTER LIFE? LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS IN TODAY’S FINANCIAL MESS?

A couple of experts are working on answers to those questions for my party day. I’ll post when I have details.

THE GATHERING: THE SPIRITUAL RETREAT WHERE STEPPING OFF THE EDGE was born.

Head Lady & Head Man at the 2006 Gathering Pow-wowStepping Off the Edge is a book that I did not intend to write. I was doing important work––writing my series of novels––and was plenty busy. Little did I know that the universe had other plans. A force I could not resist dragged me across the United States to a Native American spiritual treat held way out in the Cherokee National Forest of Tennessee.

BILL WAILS!Bill Miller, the multi-Grammy winning, NAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award winning, Native American musician, artist, and speaker, is the Gathering’s spiritual leader.

COKER CREEK MAIN LODGE

That weekend was a soul awakening for me, a turning point in my life. I ended up writing Steppping Off the Edge. Stepping Off the Edge tells the story of my experience at the Gathering, which takes place on old Cherokee ground, the home of the original Cherokee people. The book tells you how I got there and gives you tools to handle the hard times of your life. And the good times.

We’ve got special gifts coming from the Gathering and the people of the Gathering that I’ll post when I get all the details.

That’s it for now!

SANDY & REY DE CORAZONES Happy trails!  Sandy Nathan

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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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AN ECONOMIST’S LETTER TO YOUNG LITERARY AGENTS: HOW TO SURVIVE IN TODAY’S PUBLISHING INDUSTRY

NEWS FLASH! THE ECONOMIST’S LETTER IS BELOW, BUT I HAD TO TELL YOU ABOUT THIS:
I’m having an Amazon Bestseller Party on
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9TH!
THAT’S RIGHT: NEXT TUESDAY!

If you buy my book, STEPPING OFF THE EDGE, from Amazon on that day,
you will qualify for some fabulous prizes––CLICK HERE FOR A LIST!
These are some AWESOME PRIZES: 30% OFF the interior and cover design of your book by a real pro, talk to a Hollywood screen writer about your book’s title …
and so many more I’m having trouble keeping up withe them. Check it out!

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice has won 6 national awards. It tells the story of a few years in my life when everything went wrong and how it turned out right.
It is a suitable holiday gift for people of all faiths––or none.

TO GET AN AUTOMATIC INVITATION, SIGN UP FOR MY EMAIL LIST WITH THIS LINK: SANDY’S EMAIL LIST SIGN UP!
THE PARTY IS INVITATION ONLY. YOU MUST SIGN UP TO PARTICIPATE.

 

 HERE’S THE ECONOMIST’S LETTER:

Sandy Nathan
SANDY NATHAN Award Winning Author

Greetings! I recently read a blog post by Nathan Bransford, a San Francisco based literary agent.  It “rang my chimes,” as they used to say on Laugh-In in the olden days. Mr. Lansford’s post quoted articles from the NY Observer, an interview with George Jones, CEO of Border’s Group, Inc. on HarpersStudio Blog,  and a video response to the NY Observer article from young literary agent, Jeff Moores. 

The post presented different takes on the future of the publishing industry by a number of industry insiders. I am not an industry insider, I am a retired economist. I wrote this and thought of putting it on the comments form of Mr. Bransford’s blog, but realized it’s a bit long for that. So here it is. I’ll put a link to this page on Mr. B’s Blog.

Dear Mr. Bransford:

Your 10/17/08 blog concerning the state of the publishing industry caught my attention. My first career was in economics––I hold a couple of degrees in the subject and was Economic Analyst for Santa Clara County until the Planning Department was eliminated. (That’s downsizing!)  I also worked in Silicon Valley for twenty years, coaching negotiations at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, among other things.

What wisdom do I have to add to the articles you cite? An adage from economic forecasting applies: The best predictor of the future is the past. Just throw a line on past data (do a regression analysis) and there you have it––the future. The only problem with this approach is that you miss the turning points. This is a very large problem.

We are in a turning point, or major melt down, now.

No one knows what’s going to happen except that what happened in the past won’t apply. The article from the NY Observer was well worth reading, and I loved the Interview with George Jones, CEO of Borders Group. He gets the problem: It’s”not the book business itself that is lacking, but it is the business model that has been in place for decades and is broken.”

The business model no longer fits reality. To address this, Jones says Borders intends to “know our customers and select those titles that resonate with our unique shopper.” And, “speaking directly to an engaged population of customers is absolutely the way to go and we’re leading the way on it … the sky’s the limit!”

This is a new way of doing business. It’s personally engaged business, its smart business, and it points to niche buying, with suppliers listening harder to customers––in the case of Borders, anyway. I also liked what he said about their doing “very little if any traditional advertising.” I’ve never seen it pay in any business in which I’ve been involved.

What’s going to happen in the publishing industry? I have no clue. No one else does, either. I do know publishers that made a lot of money in the 60s & 70s are groaning and have been for a long time.

How to address this? On the supply side, looking at large publishers, I would expect cut backs and increased conservatism. The financial people and investment advisers I’ve talked to recently are in lock-down mode. They’re traumatized and very tight. Turtled up, you might say.

That speaks to less innovation in buying by publishers and a tendency to hang onto what’s proven, which is what the NY Observer article pointed to. I can’t speculate as to what change in overall share in the GDP publishing the coming years will bring.

Many small publishers will fold, which is sad, because they tend to be the innovators. But many more will rise, including micro-presses. These businesses are fluid and can find and fill niche markets. With distribution open to them (and it is) and companies like Borders open to buying from really small publishers if they prove they can sell, the small and micro companies could flourish.

Such micro-publishers might be built around a single author who uses his/her books as large business cards, creating a platform for some other endeavors: consulting, coaching, or speaking. This includes the “out of the bookstore sales” that don’t get counted in bestseller lists.

What young agents and everyone else need to remember is that what is happening now has never happened before. I’m 63 years old. My dad was a major developer in Silicon Valley before it had that moniker. I’ve imbibed business since birth and studied business and economics academically. I’ve seen many economic cycles, with their “Whee!” and expectation of endless growth on the upside, and their black gloom after the inevitable bust.

The current situation is new and massively ominous.

Within recent weeks, a half dozen of the largest banks in the country have been bought out by other banks under duress or government orders and/or have disappeared. This includes both of the largest investment banks. Hundreds more, less prominent banks have closed, with many more to follow. The collapse of the housing industry is well documented and the national debt is beyond anything I could have imagined. China as been buying US government paper for years, financing our spending binge on Chinese goods. Read the financial pages, literati.

Are we heading for another Great Depression of the 30s? No. That will never happen again. We’re heading for What Happened in the 2000s and Beyond. Unknown territory. Hope our leaders are up to it.

Speaking to the young New York literary agents shown by video on Mr. Bransford’s blog––if I were a young literary agent what would I do? I’d keep my eyes open, read the Wall Street Journal as much as Publishers’ Weekly, watch my back, and learn new skills.

A friend of mine, an English major from one of the prestigious eastern colleges, is now taking a 16-week course allowing him to become an ambulance driver. Smart guy.

The more tools in one’s belt, the more likely one is to survive. Changes in job description are good; they provide material for a more interesting memoir. If one has been fortunate and deserving enough to attain a prestigious job title early on, that’s great. But it’s not who you are. Life can be brutal in ripping away illusion.

If I were a young literary agent shopping for new clients, I would look at the demand side of the book market, and markets generally. What are recession/depression proof products? Drugs, booze, and psychotherapy. Things that make people feel good and hopeful sell in bad times.

Find their literary forms. Look for books with titles like: “You can make it through the next five years …” Though I wonder if the spate of “You can get rich like me, activate your inner entrepreneur” books aren’t part of the problems we face.

Political extremism and agitation flourish in hard or changing times. Look at the 30s and 60s. One side blames the other for the history of humanity and plots revenge. This is a fertile, though repulsive, area to mine for top selling books. Hate books. Blame books. Incendiary books.

Still another and very important area of demand are books that offer people meaning and hope in a shifting universe. A philosophy professor emphasized how hungry people are for meaning. He said that his wife (then an undergraduate at UC Berkeley) spoke of the subjects we discussed in our philosophy classes. After her classes, people followed her around the UC campus, wanting to talk about meaning, existence, values, anything that feed their souls. In an age of sophistication and materialism, our spiritual (sorry to use the word) needs remain.

We can’t help it. The search for meaning is hardwired into our brains. We are purposive creatures that seek meaning almost as soon as we seek air. See the writing of Andrew Newberg MD on brain science and religious experience. The need for meaning isn’t an add-on.

People seek meaning harder when they feel shaken. Feed that need, and you’ve got a hit.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” is a brilliant example of this. It combines all the most basic human needs in a beautifully written package that let’s people vicariously go on her search for MEANING. (Everything I’ve seen from Elizabeth on this subject says, “Find your own meaning, don’t use mine.” That’s the idea.) “The Life of Pi” is another brilliant example: existential anxiety in a rowboat. Author Yann Martel was a philosophy major.

The upside of demand in bad times is that readers exist; some people will always like to read. Some people like to read interesting stuff, and will buy it. We’ve got new technology to help us get it. (But really, how can holding a Kindle compare with experiencing the elegance of a high quality book?)

If I were a young agent wanting to survive, I would notice that the model is broken. I would notice that profitable sales are and will be what allows the large publishers to survive and that as a literary agent, I need go where those who provide my income go. Publishing is sales driven and so am I. (Which you already know.)

I would also notice, by the long hours I work if nothing else, that the query system doesn’t work. It’s a cumbersome, labor-intensive process for you which doesn’t pop out likely prospects reliably enough for this market.

If I were an agent, I would scrap the query system. It’s too much work and misses books or products that might be very profitable. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” for one. The Kiyosaki’s self-published to get their start. [Oh, my God! Don’t use those words!] The NY publishing establishment shunned the entire Chicken Soup Series. Big mistakes, which were later rectified. The querying system doesn’t pick up the most important point in today’s publishing industry: Can this author sell?

I’d scrap queries entirely and have anyone wanting me to represent them send me a: (1) resume and a (2) position statement: why I am the person to write this book. I’d sift through those and get the candidates that might be able to succeed in the marketplace.

I’d interview them. You can do interviews by video, but most people look lousy on video unless they’ve been coached. So they can come and see you in your office. If prospective clients want your representation enough, they’ll come to you. Don’t pay for it either.

“The author’s persona is most important element in the success of a book,” Victor di Suvero told me. Victor is a poet who used to hang around City Lights Bookstore with the great San Francisco poets in the 50s and 60s. It’s charisma and ability to transmit it that makes people plunk down their bucks.

Get your prospective client in your office and talk to him or her, silently asking yourself the questions: “Would I buy a pair of socks from this person? A used car?”

The possible answers are, “Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe, with coaching.” (Make them pay for it.) When you have those answers, you’ll have trimmed the seekers to a manageable herd. Then talk books.

Remember: You can hire someone to fix a book, but you can’t make a platform or a selling personality.

With my method, your client candidates will have proven they can sell before books are mentioned. Many really good writers will probably get screened out, as well as those who can’t afford to come to you, but literary fiction doesn’t pay the corporate debt.

Sound radical? Sound crass? Yes to both. Would you rather drive an ambulance?

Just a suggestion,

Sandy Nathan …

Cutting this post here would be mean. I have a story for you to round this out. My daughter, Zoe Nathan,  recently won her black belt in karate at a competition in Seattle. (If you click the link you’ll see after pictures. I understand she was mostly airborne in the “during competition” phase.)

Like you young literary agents, Zoe is an under thirty, gorgeous, multi-talented, sensitive and really smart, liberal arts graduate of a very good east coast school, Sarah Lawrence. She had to miss the Santa Barbara opening of an art show featuring one of her paintings because she was in Seattle winning her black belt. You relate? She’s like you.

She’s studied karate religiously for many years. combining it with her ballet to be the most beautiful and graceful karate woman in the world. Winning this belt meant a lot to her. The process was “extremely intense.” This is what she said of the process of winning (via text message):

I’M NO MORE BRUISED UP THAN USUAL!

She spoke of all the drills and other things aspirants had to do to get the belt. (I didn’t know what she was talking about.)  Then she told me about a difficult part, sparring with an opponent in front of a small mob of judges. I’m paraphrasing:

“The woman I sparred with was the daughter of a tournament orientated black belt in our school. In his dojo, they train to compete in international tournaments. His daughter has been competing in and winning such tournaments for years. She’s a phenomenon.

“When she was throwing me, I kept thinking, ‘Why am I still in the air?’ And then I realized that she was placing me so that when I landed, I wouldn’t get hurt.

“Both of us advanced to the belts we were testing for. When they gave us the belts, the judges complimented her on her control.  I.e., for not beating up a less experienced contender while illustrating that she could ––and easily!

“They complimented me on my spirit in keeping going through it all, and the fact that I was still standing at the end.”

That’s my message: The goal is to keep going and be standing at the end, no matter what. Everyone has to find out what that means and do it.

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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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BORIS BOGART’S TRUCK––A BIT OF HISTORY FROM THE SF BAY

Sandy NathanSandy Nathan, national award winning author.
A while back I wrote about how my dad sold a house to the Russians back in the coldest part of the Cold War, during the 1950s. It was posted in July 2008.

While I thought it a fascinating story, no one else seemed to. I got no feedback or comments on it––until today. David Ilsley of England sent me the following email:

Hi Sandy,

I’ve recently purchased this truck and I believe it to be the one owned by the decorating contractor you mention in your article, “How my Dad Sold a House to the Russians in 1955”. As you can see, it needs some work! I think that it was last used in 1979 … and has stood since then, in the Bay Area until it was shipped to England earlier this month. Its a bit of a long shot, but I was wondering if you had any pictures of the truck or Boris or could shed any light on the history of his business activities. It would be fascinating to learn anything about the past of my truck … I’m not planning to restore the truck to “as new” condition, but rather to halt the deterioration and preserve it in its used and aged state.

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Kind regards.
David Illsley.

 

BORIS BOGART’S TRUCK!
Boris Bogart’s Truck!

 

BORIS BOGART’S LOGO FROM HIS TRUCK!
Boris Bogart’s Truck # 2
The door with that great old logo.

 

 

OK, Bay Area history buffs––anyone remember Boris Bogart? Bogart family members? Any photos of this truck? Let’s help David find out about his truck while we remember the old days. What happened to Boris?

And does anyone know about that house that Oddstad Homes shipped to Russia in the mid 50s? Where is it?!!!

Sandy Nathan

 

NUMENON, NUOMENON, NOUMENON: KANT’S THING-IN-ITSELFAnd remember, support your local artists and authors. They’re amazingly good.

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LITTLE INDIA in LA & ROBERT MIRABAL––TO BE FULLY ALIVE,WE MUST MAKE A JOURNEY… START HERE

THE LOTUS
The Lotus: Symbol of Enlightenment

We’ve been doing a bunch of clean up and refurbishing on my family of web sites. Spring housekeeping! It’s actually to get ready for the launch of my new book Numenon, available now on my site and Amazon.

While updating my family of sites––I have 52 URLs. (Who can find them all??? I’ll give you a prize (a book?) if you name them all.) During this process, I found articles that I’d written that were too big to even load. My software croaked at the overload. So I cut these in half, spruced and put them up. Now you can read them!

These are philosophical AND fun articles, lavishly illustrated, as you will see below.

WE MUST MAKE A JOURNEY––THE ROAD TO ABIQUIU IN NEW MEXICO
The Road

THE JOURNEY: THEMES FROM TAOS TALES INTERPRETED

This think piece tackles the human journey to enlightenment. I wrote it after hearing Native American artist/musician ROBERT MIRABAL’S award winning album Taos Tales. This is a haunting album and very deep. In my article, The Journey, I interpret what Mirabal says in the light of my background in western philosophy and psychology, and my studies of Eastern thought.

If you’ve been wondering about buying one of my books-–this gives you a mini version, with PICTURES! So many I had to cut these articles in half to load them. Here’s another original photo by my daughter, Zoe Nathan. (Attribution is nice, all you out there who would never steal from a store but think nothing of lifting people’s photos.)

THE SHADOWLANDS––WHAT YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH TO GET WHERE YOU WANT TO BE
THE SHADOWLANDS––WHAT YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH
TO GET WHERE YOU WANT TO BE
In the shadowland, dark looks light and light looks dark. It’s Kali Yuga, the age of darkness, the age we live in.

YES, YOU DO HAVE TO CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN
THE MOUNTAIN
Yes, you do have to climb mountains to achieve your goals.

The Journey goes on through the life stages. I present material that later shows up in an expanded form in my book, Stepping Off the Edge.

LITTLE INDIA: A Bit of India in Southern California

I wrote this article after my first trip to Little India in Artesia, near LA. Little India is the second largest ethnic Indian community in the USA and represents a goldmine of cultural and SHOPPING. This is Google’s highest rated site on Little India, outranking their own Chamber of Commerce. Why? It’s good. I’ve updated it, adding Maps! Also cut it into two parts so you can read it.

The Nataraj and California Oaks: A perfect match
The Nataraj––Dancing Shiva––and California Oaks
A perfect combination, like Little India and SoCal

Aside from giving an overview of the many shops in Little India, I also give an overview of what I know of Indian culture and art. I’ve studied with a meditation master from India since 1975––I’ve learned a bit. Just a starting point.

If you’ve wondered what the red dot on the forehead means, if you wonder what the face on my new book, Numenon is, find out here. If you want to get your nose pierced by people who’ve been doing it for centuries and know how, this is the place. Read the article. It tells where my daughter had it done. If you like to eat Indian food––Go there and consume! Yes! Eat it up!

FASHION GALLERIA IN LITTLE INDIA
THE FASHION GALLERIA IN LITTLE INDIA
My daughter, Lily, is buying a killer bedspread made of pieces of old saris and Punjabis.
You can have one, too. Cost way less than the boring junk at The Mall.

NUMENON, NUOMENON, NOUMENON: KANT’S THING-IN-ITSELF
My new book features a Photoshopped Shiva Nataraj, the Dancing Shiva. How did the largest corporation in the world get a Nataraj for a logo? Read it and find out.

That’s it for today, gang! Read and enjoy! Shop and enjoy! Enjoy!

Sandy Nathan

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A FATHER’S DAY TRIBUTE TO MY DAD, ANDY ODDSTAD

I was looking through old family albums recently and came upon the following article about my father. It contained information that I thought worth sharing––some of it was new to me. Father’s Day is about acknowledging our fathers for what they’ve done and honoring who they are or were. That’s what I’m doing here.

For all his accomplishments, some of which are laid out below, my dad died at age 45. No, he didn’t die of a heart attack. He was in perfect health. Someone who turned the wrong way onto a freeway off-ramp killed him. The old guy might have been drunk––he did have an opened bottle of wine on the seat next to him–-or he might have been confused. He could have been trying to end his own life. He did end his life, along with my father’s.

Here’s the article from an old newspaper. I’m going to post it in its entirety.

From the DAILY COMMERCIAL NEWS, “OLDEST BUSINESS NEWSPAPER ON THE PACIFIC COAST––SINCE 1875,” Thursday, January 15, 1959, by Hugh Russell Fraser

Today’s Bay Area Profile of Andy Oddstad is another in a DAILY COMMERCIAL NEWS series which appears each Thursday to give you an intimate portrayal of prominent Bay Area executives. The author, Hugh Russell Fraser, is recognized as among the top book reviewers and biographical writers of our time. ––Editor.

When I heard that down in Redwood City there is a man, only 40 years old, who has built 10,000 houses in the Bay Area in the last 10 years, I decided to go down and see what he was like.

They call him Andy Oddstad, but his real name is Icelandic in origin––Andres Fjeldsted Oddstad.

He is a stocky, blond type, built like a wrestler (which he was at college, and still is), decidedly affable and friendly in his manner.

There is nothing ostentatious about his office a 1718 Broadway. There he presides over the destinies of 10 construction and building companies, the best known of which is Oddstad Homes.

With a signal to his secretary to cut off the phone, so as to give me his uninterrupted attention (How I hate these tycoons who take a dozen calls while pretending to talk to a visitor!), he talked in a low-pitched, well-modulated voice.

Naturally, I wanted to find out what made the man tick; I first questioned him about how he got into the home-building business.

Born in British Columbia, Oddstad’s forbearers were all from Iceland. He was 9 years old when his father, a carpenter and builder, moved to San Francisco. Here he worked for his brothers-in-law, the famous builders Ellis and Henry Stoneson. Young Andy went to Sunnyside Grammar School.

At the age of 10 he knew he was going into the building business. Never was there any doubt of it.

FASCINATED

Not because his uncles were builders in a big way, the founders of Stonestown, but because everything about building, from sweeping out the floors of new houses to constructing walls and roofs, fascinated him.

Every daylight hour that he did not have to spend in school, he spent around building projects; in fact, he worked after school cleaning up trash on building sites, sweeping floors, helping make repairs. He discovered he would rather do that than play.

Meanwhile, Andy kept on going to school––first to Aptos Junior High, then two years at San Francisco college and finally two years at the University of California [at Berkeley] from which he graduated with honors and an engineering degree in 1941.

Despite the financial status of his uncles, he worked his way through college, always in building and construction work.

It was while at college that he stumbled onto something that made him think of business in more precise terms. He took as his graduate thesis a study of low-cost housing in California!

ALMOST HALF

He went all over the state, and in San Diego he ran into an eye opener. Mind you, this was in 1941 when government construction of low-cost housing was at its high point. He discovered to his amazement that Uncle Sam was putting out $9000 for a unit that was little more than a three-room apartment, while in San Francisco, private enterprise was building five-room houses with a garage underneath, definitely superior to the San Diego Government-subsidized project, for about $4250! In other words, for less than half the subsidized amount!

That was his first acquaintance with the waste inherent in bureaucracy. He could hardly believe his eyes, but slowly he came to realize that he was looking at a simple and inescapable fact.

His interesting and carefully documented thesis went to waste, however, although the University of California gave him a pat on the back for it.

Hardly had he completed this study when the approach of World War II brought him into the Navy. There he became a “frogman,” an undersea demolition expert. He saw combat duty in Okinawa, winning a raft of medals, including the Bronze Star Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation, and the Pacific Theater Ribbon with five battle stars.

On getting out of the Navy, with the rank of Lieutenant [Actually, Ensign  SN], he returned to the Bay Area. Then he decided to go into business for himself. [The initial business was funded with $500 or thereabouts that my mother, Clara Oddstad, saved from her wartime wages. SN] He teamed up with another Icelander, Chris Finson, who hailed from Seattle, and together they formed the Sterling Building Company.

GREAT TRIO

It was at this point that his famous uncles, Henry and Ellis Stoneson, came in with help and guidance. A third man, to whom Oddstad gives great credit, was Parker Maddux, one-time president of the San Francisco Bank. This great trio, all three of whom helped Andres Oddstad on the road to a spectacular success, have all passed on, Henry Stoneson only recently.

Andres Oddstad doesn’t think much of the co-called “self-made men” who insist they did it all, that nobody helped them.

“When you come to analyze it,” he said, “that is nonsense. Nobody makes it alone. Sooner or later, they get cooperation and/or assistance. I am proud of the help and expert guidance that I got from my uncles and from Parker Maddux, and if you writing anything about me, don’t forget to mention their names!”

I like this about the man. No boasting, no phony claims. In fact, I think he underestimated, rather than overestimated, his own ability, which I soon recognized was considerable. It is plain he is a hard and unremitting worker; that he thinks problems through and believes in doing a through and careful job.

But he also has imagination! This was apparent in his keen interest in economics and architecture. Perhaps a better word is enthusiasm, although I do not usually associated the word “enthusiasm” with a man who always talks in a low-pitched voice, never once raising it to an excited pitch.

It was obvious he has been fascinated by two men, the great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and J. Kenneth Galbraith, author of The Affluent Society. Wright he regards as a great architect, the like of which American has never known. “He thinks and designs in three dimensions,” says Oddstad. “In addition, he is a showman and super salesman. Take this training ground he operates for young architects on the desert near Phoenix, Arizona. [Taliesin West] There he takes young men out of college, puts them to work drafting––carrying out his ideas, and the result is he has a far-reaching influence on the rising generation of architects.

“Wright sees things in their relation to their environment. Many orthodox architects––and Wright is anything but orthodox––remind me of the fellow who polishes a pebble in a mosaic. Write has helped me think in depth––you have to do it in any kind of business, but especially in the building business.”

But it was the imaginative Galbraith I wanted to question him about. The Affluent Society has dynamite in it, and I was curious our the third largest builder in the San Francisco area reacted to the top U.S. economist.

“Let me say one thing,” said Oddstad, “I like to solve any problem by reducing the variables––in other words, simplifying the assumptions. But by no means do I disregard the variables. Some economists––in fact all of them but Galbraith, disregard factors they don’t understand.”

“Meaning what?” I demanded. “Let’s get specific.”

“Well, just this: The usual run of economists pay no attention to such factors as human greed, the ego, etc. Because they do not understand these, they ignore what they can’t understand. Galbraith does not. He tries to reckon with all the variables. In other worlds, he sets the whole problem of economics against against a background of common sense. Do I make myself clear?”

“Exactly, ” I said. “In fact, you have converted me, as never before, to the value of Galbraith. My previous acquaintance with him was wholly superficial. In other words, if I may add, it is your view that most economists are lacking in fundamental common sense?”

ALL BUSINESS

“Right!” he said in that low, even voice of his. Then he added slowly: “Of course, you can ask how all this helps me in my business? Well, an understanding of economics helps toward an understanding of the reference frame of all business, not just the building business.”

“And speaking of business,” I said, “what do you think of the future of the building business in California?”

“Just this:” he replied, “first, our population is going to double by 1975. They are coming in here at a great rate now. It is becoming a trend. And it will accelerate. Not only that, we will double our production units. I mean––and let me make myself clear––for every apartment house or building you see now, there will be another apartment house or building by 1975. For every home you see now, there will be another home in 16 years.

“You mean,” I said, “for every house and building we see know, we are going to see double that by 1975?”

“Yes. This is one part of the country where values are going to be on the increase, steadily and persistently. In fact, right now California has the only semi-permanent wealth in the nation.”

When I left this rather extraordinary man, whose profession is building and whose hobby is economics, I suspected he was telling me the truth. The surprising thing is that 1975 is only a relatively short time off!”

End

ANDY ODDSTAD WATER SKIING IN THE SF BAY 1960s
Andy Oddstad getting ready to water ski in the SF Bay, early 1960s

• • • • • • • • •

AFTERWORD: Well, we all know that 1975 came and went. I’m sure my father’s predictions were far lower than actual levels of development in California. I’m also certain that he could not comprehend the explosion in housing prices from the 1970s on. For a guy born in 1918, contemporary housing prices would sound like fantasy.

These days [I originally posted this in 2008.), some of his most modest homes that sold for about $9,000 in the 1950s are going for $1 million. (I wish he hadn’t sold them!) [They’re down to a mere $800K due to the recession of the 2000s.]

Andy Oddstad was a guy who came up in the Great Depression. The article above mentions him working for his uncles after school. He did it because he needed to work if his family was to eat––and the rest of the Oddstad family worked, too. Sweeping out jobs after school wasn’t a hobby. Nor were his two paper routes before school just for fun. He constructed the bicycle he rode to deliver those papers out of scrap from the junkyard. And raised rabbits behind the family home for meat for the table.

Those were hard times.

Oddstad Homes had built over 14,000 homes at the time of my father’s death. Oddstad Homes was the #1 builder of residential housing in Northern California by a wide margin, and #10 in the US at its hey-day.

What was it like having a dad like that? Like growing up in the Marines. Tough, and fair. He really did read Galbraith. He had––and read–-volumes by the philosophers Immanuel Kant and Baruch Spinoza on his bedside table. When he helped me with my homework, I had to have razor sharp pencils, several pens, a pad of scratch paper, good paper for the answers, a straight edge, and a compass at the table before he would sit down with me. I got one explanation, that was it. [Pocket calculators didn’t exist.]

Brisk.

I majored in economics for my first two college degrees, due in part to his influence. I’m glad I have that knowledge, though it’s taken me a lifetime to start “listening to my heart” as the New Agers say. I still feel guilty about being a writer and author, though I know it’s what I was born to do. (My dad could not have fathomed the New Age, either. Or free love or the 1960s.)

I owe Andy Oddstad a very great deal. I’ve never seen a person who lived at 100% and demanded that those around him do the same. He shaped me and my life.

What are some of the most important words my father said to me?

First off, he said, “Sandy, there’s no reason a girl can’t do everything a boy can do.” So I took physics and calculus in high school. “And I know how smart you are, so don’t try and tell me you can’t get good grades.” I got good grades.

He held me to a high standard, and I’ve kept it. That’s the most valuable thing I got from my dad. He was the most disciplined person I’ve met. He moved through life at hyper-speed, like he was skating on the edge of a razor blade.

It’s a shame he’s been all but forgotten. He gave a great deal to the San Francisco Bay Area.

But that’s what happens when you die.

I know that housing tracts built by one of his competitors, Joseph Eichler, have been named Historical Neighborhoods. There’s an very glossy, slick magazine put out for owners and fans of Eichler homes. I think that’s great. Eichler’s designs were spectacular examples of low cost, good design.

They are not spectacular examples of low cost, good construction. I’ve lived in an Eichler. I know all about huge single-paned windows that leak all the heat in the room and radiant (under floor) heating that that doesn’t keep rooms warm and can lead to big repair bills when it breaks. My cousin worked as a carpenter building Eichlers. I will not repeat what he said about the quality of their construction. I don’t know if the old saw about how fast they burn down is true. Do Eichlers really burn down in three minutes?

Enough carping. I expected that Frank Lloyd Wright would approve more of Eichler’s work than my fathers. I do wish that some of the folks living in Farm Hill, Linda Mar, Crestmont, Rollingwood and the rest of the communities built by Oddstad Homes might throw together a blog or something.

My dad was an engineer. He was interested in straight lines and economy and that’s what he built. He wanted everyone to have a good, well-built house over his or her head. He was a political liberal, a strong Kennedy man, a man who cared about everyone, not just the rich.

Now is the time to remember our fathers, whoever they were and whatever they did, even if they weren’t perfect and contributed to our personal difficulties. We’re here because of them, whoever they were or are.

My best wishes, fathers. And all the best to you, Andy Oddstad, whom I knew as Daddy. There’s so much you didn’t get to see, Daddy. You have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. You missed the Beatles.

And you didn’t get to read my books! I think you would have liked them.

Sandy

Andy Oddstad & Ray Stern
Ray Stern and Andy Oddstad getting ready to water ski in the SF Bay, early 1960s.
Ray was a great buddy of my dad’s. He was a professional wrestler and entrepreneur. The caption next to this photo in our family album is, “Ray floats at last.” That is written in my dad’s handwriting and refers to the fact that Ray was a block of solid muscle. He had so little fat mass that he couldn’t float at all without his wet suit. I think he was the hardest to teach of the many people my dad taught to ski. By-gone times: The Bay is too polluted for skiing now. Ray and my dad are gone.

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