RedRoom, the site for readers and authors, had a contest this week. We were to blog about our favorite illustrated book. My choice is a highly personal one. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is a book I wrote about a remarkable horse. Tecolote was born prematurely on a freezing night. There was no reason for him to survive–but he did. The book tells and shows what happened as Teco (as we called him) grew into a strong, mature horse.
Tecolote and his Mother, Rosie–
This was taken when he got on his feet.
Although the book is illustrated with photographs that show Teco from his birth all the way to an adult riding horse, the story focuses on his tricky first year. We didn’t know if he would live five days. People from our neighborhood gathered outside the corral where he and his mother lived, praying for him and crying. He looked beyond terrible. Even so, he brought people together from the very start.
Later, when Teco was out of the woods, his mother died. She was an older mare with health problems. Teco faced life as a preemie, then a young horse without a mother. The book centers around how we as his caretakers used the other horses of the ranch and its facilities to give the youngster a secure and normal start. It’s about how he found his place in the herd and made dear friends in the horse and human worlds.
Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is a beautiful tale for children, especially those with disabilities or facing loss. Teco’s story shows people––kids and adults–that those with problems can make it and have good lives. It’s is a kids’ book, 44 pages long.
Why did I stop writing at the end of Teco’s first year? We ran out of photos. Once Teco got his feet under him, he took off. The rest of his life was so normal that there wasn’t anything to photograph. He went under saddle so easily it was laughable, and then just headed down the road.
I cover Teco’s early days in the book, but I’ve never written about what follows here, the final part of Teco’s life.
Sandy & Tecolote–My author picture shows
just my face and a bit of Teco’s cheek.
This is the REAL photo. Teco’s giving me a hug.
Tecolote ended up being my horse. I’m an older rider with so many things wrong with me that I don’t know if I should be riding. Actually, I didn’t ride for several years. Due to an improperly set broken leg from a skiing accident, I developed severe arthritis in my knee and ankle. I had to have my knee replaced and my ankle fused. I also have a bad back. Plus I’m a cancer survivor and pretty chopped up because of that. After all that pain and surgery, I lost my nerve. After a lifetime with horses, I became afraid to ride even the calmest horse.
But my husband wanted me to ride with him again. He cajoled me into trying Teco, who had turned out to be the mellowest horse in the world. My husband’s coaxing worked.
Teco took care of me. I needed a special horse like him––gentle and kind and unspookable––to keep me safe. We became a pair as he took me on many safe, smooth rides up the trail.
One of the things that people who don’t ride don’t know about is the bond between horse and rider. Teco and I became as bonded as an equine/human pair can be.
I loved him. And he loved me back. He did a special thing that no other horse has done with me. I’d approach him, scratching his shoulder and neck the way another horse would if grooming him. He’d wrap his head and neck around me, encircling my body. It was the only way a horse could give a hug. (They don’t have arms, afterall.) He gave me a hug every time I approached him.
The book Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could came out and I entered it in a few contests. Life went on. When my grand kids came to visit, Teco amazed me. He’d never seen kids before, yet he packed them around like a trooper. They fell in love.
Sandy & Tecolote –– He’s my boy,
the horse that got me back into riding
After the kids went home, I got back to writing. I was working on manuscripts for two books. I didn’t go down to the barn for about a week. Finally my husband called and said, “I’ve got Teco saddled. Come and ride.”
I was high as a kite, euphoric. The book contests I’d entered were announcing their winners. I’d found out the night before that Teco’s book had won 2011 Silver Nautilus Award for Children’s Nonfiction (Gr. 1-6). The Nautilus Award recognizes books that promote spiritual growth, conscious living and positive social change. Previous winners include Thich Nhat Hanh and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I was overjoyed–Teco’s book belonged in that company.
Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could
Won the Silver Nautilus Award
My joy lasted less than 24 hours. I went down to the barn. My husband had Teco saddled and ready. There he was, resplendent in his golden coat with its black trim. I found it impossible to look at Teco without feeling happy. He was a buckskin; his body was golden palomino color. His mane, tail, and legs were black. I could run my eyes over him and appreciate his straight legs and how his shoulder angled back the way that a gaited horse’s should. He had a short back and long hip, an adorable face. All of Tecolote was beautiful.
But not that day. He stood in the barn, head down, mucous pouring from his nostrils. He coughed. I didn’t like the look of him at all.
On the other hand, he was saddled. Show me a horse person who can resist getting on a saddled horse and I’ll show you someone who isn’t really a horse person.
I decided to ride him to the arena and see how he did. He walked slowly, head almost touching the ground. He coughed and had no energy. In fact, he acted as though he might fall down.
“This horse is sick,” I said to myself, heading slowly back to the barn. When I got off of Teco, he lowered his head. Liquid poured from his nostrils, splattering on the barn floor.
He had pneumonia. It didn’t respond to the massive doses of antibiotics the vet gave him. I was mystified; I’ve had horses for 55 years and have never seen one with pneumonia. Our part of California is too mild.
Teco kept getting sicker. We took him to the hospital. We have one of the best equine hospitals in the country in our valley. Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center is a wonderful resource. They’ve saved the lives of many of our horses.
They’d save Tecolote, too. When he unloaded the horse from our trailer, my husband said a half dozen bright young vets swarmed around him.
“They climbed all over him for hours, discussing what might be wrong and doing tests,” my husband told me. They’d fix our horse.
Tecolote: Always Elegant
A day later, we went in for a conference. The vet who was coordinating Teco’s case said, “If we can stabilize him well enough to go home, he can hang out in pasture with his buddies the rest of his life. But you can never ride him again.”
We sat there, stunned. “What do you mean?”
“He’s too dangerous to ride,” the vet explained.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“He’s in heart failure.” He drew a diagram of Teco’s heart, showing how part was greatly enlarged. Their ultrasounds had given them a clear picture.
“But how did this happen?” I couldn’t believe it. “Is it because he was premature?”
“It has nothing to do with his prematurity. It’s been happening over the last two or three years.”
In shock, I realized that no one had ridden him during those years. My husband likes rip-roaring horses with tons of spirit. I wasn’t riding, being too traumatized by all my surgery. Teco stood in pasture, apparently fine, enjoying life with his friends.
And dying. We brought him home and gave him all the zillions of meds the clinic prescribed. Twice a day, my husband ground maybe thirty human pills with a mortar and pestle. He mixed their dust with molasses and water, and loaded the mess into a syringe with the end cut off, which allowed him to squirt the meds into Teco’s mouth. The horse raised his head as high as he could; he did not make it easy.
When the heart begins to fail, it enlarges, trying to make up for it’s decreased strength. It can’t pump enough blood to the animal’s body, and it can’t recirculate fluids. They begin to build up. On a horse, fluids collect along the animal’s belly––the lowest point on his body. Fluid gathers between his front and back legs as well. Teco looked he had a blanket of gigantic kitchen sponges stuffed under his skin from his the front of his chest through his hind legs. The meds did nothing.
Teco’s book kept winning awards. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could was a finalist in two categories of the 2011 National Indie Excellence Contest: Animals/Pets General and Juvenile Non-fiction.
I was in this crazy world where the awards kept coming in and Teco got worse. I’d go down to see him in his pasture. He’d be standing there, head down, in a corner by himself. He was leaving this world. He was leaving me.
Tecolote–– Making a Full Circle
The vet said he had only a day or two to live when we put him down. If we hadn’t, the end would have been horrible. Just before I left the field so the vet could do his job, I scratched Teco’s neck the way I always did. Sick as he was, he turned his head and neck around and embraced me. A final hug, and he was gone.
I ended up in the hospital in the midst of all this. I started getting chest pains as Teco deteriorated. If you call up your doctor––and my internist was pretty far away––and say, “I’m having chest pains,” that doctor will say, “Go to the Emergency Room right away.”
If you walk into an Emergency Room, a haggard-looking lady in your mid-sixties, those medicos will JUMP. They did every test you can imagine. I was scared stiff, not knowing what was happening with my body.
It boiled down to: My heart was breaking. Tecolote was being ripped from my soul.
* * * * *
Tecolote died May 1, 2011, four days before his tenth birthday. He was a miracle when he was born and a joy all his life. He brought horses and riding back when I thought that part of my life was over. I loved him for the obstacles he overcame in his life, and what he helped me overcome.
Here’sTecolote: The Little Horse That Could’s Amazon page. You can loook inside the book and see Teco. I put up some photos of him and our other horses on the page, too. At the end of 2011, the book garnered two more prizes. It was a winner in Children’s Nonfiction and a finalist in Children’s Picture Book Softcover Non-fiction of the USA BOOK NEWS “USA BEST BOOKS OF 2011” AWARD.
* * * * *
That’s why Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is my favorite illustrated book. It’s all I’ve got left of him. I’m glad I’ve got the awards and the book.
Hey, everybody! Lady Grace is almost here! The official launch date is May 1, 2012. My publisher has the following announcement:
Lady Grace, Book II of Tales from Earth’s End will be officially launched on May 1, 2012. We at Vilasa Press think you’ll be as pleased with the book as we are. We’re looking forward to gala launch activities. We’ll be announcing them here. We’re providing more information about the book here. You can also read about it on author Sandy Nathan’s website.
Barry Nathan, publisher, Vilasa Press
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BEYOND THE END OF THE EARTH:
Three stories intertwine: Earth is devastated by a nuclear holocaust. Technological wizard Jeremy Edgarton and a few of his friends are whisked off planet moments before the disaster by the goldies, a race of super-evolved aliens. They seem too good to be true, and unfortunately, they are. The humans want out.
Jeremy’s mother, Veronica Edgarton, awakens from a cryogenic sleep in a chamber deep beneath the ice. Next to her is her husband, one of the most ruthless and cruel men ever to have lived.
The inhabitants of the gigantic underground bomb shelter Jeremy and others built are preparing to emerge. They were supposed to become a super-race. Regrettably, evolution can work for evil as well as good.
Each of these events is potentially volatile. Combine them and the results are explosive! The players from across time and space are catapulted into a struggle of cosmic scale, challenging them to draw upon every ounce of their physical, intellectual and spiritual strength.
Lady Grace is a thrilling, action-filled adventure wrapped in the embrace of epic love.
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Praise for Lady Grace:
Lady Grace holds its own with the best of today’s sci-fi page-turners while accomplishing much more. Nathan’s second book in the Tales from Earth’s End is just as much a spiritual and psychological exploration as it is science fiction/fantasy thriller. Nathan has created a unique niche that leaves her without rival in the canon of contemporary fiction.
– Nathan Fisher, MBA, Stanford Graduate School of Business
A gripping original sci-fi tale that brings politics, spirituality, and personal responsibility into the mix. As in all interesting tales of good versus evil, the path to outcome is not predictable but the trip is super enjoyable and will keep you clicking for the next page.
– Consuelo Saar Baehr, author of Daughters
I LOVED Lady Grace! From the first moments, I could not put it down. Sandy Nathan has done it again. Within her believable, gripping tale of people who have somehow survived a thousand years, Sandy explores instant telepathic teleportation, human-animal relationships, survivalism, personal relationships, social experimentation, dehumanization, and the most of these . . . Love. The twists of
Jeremy’s evolution with Eliana and his mother, Veronica Edgarton, are breathtaking.
An Interview with Author Sandy Nathan: Questions Answered Here––
The following sample interview is provided for the convenience of the media and book groups.
Where did you get the idea for the novel?
About five years ago, my brother died suddenly and tragically. He was my only sibling and adored little brother. I was grieving, with all sorts of thoughts and feelings arising. About three months after his death, I had a dream. In the dream, a shining creature like an angel hovered above me. She was absolutely good, a being of love and light. She appeared to me as light. The light dropped closer and finally merged with me, so that I got to feel what it was like to be that angelic creature.
That was the angel in the first book of the Tales from Earth’s End Series, which my creative process turned into an angelic alien sent to earth on a vitally important mission. That was The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy.
The rest of the plot of The Angel popped into my brain in the next few days. When I finished writing that book, Lady Grace was rocketing around in my brain. I just wrote it down. Lady Grace is the story of what happens after the radiation clears enough to permit life on earth to continue. None of the survivors knows exactly how much time has passed. When I finished writing Lady Grace, its sequel was front and center in my mind. That sequel is Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground. It will be published in early 2012.
Lady Grace, like the other books in the series, is an action-filled adventure with elements of sci-fi, and fantasy. And it’s a love story of epic proportions. What’s unusual about it––besides pretty near everything––is that two of my characters from the Bloodsong Series’ first book, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money, “jump ship” and have roles in Lady Grace. This was really fun to write and I hope you enjoy reading it. The idea of having Bud, Wes and Will Duane show up just happened––serendipity. But they solve an important problem.
How did you come up with the title?
The book is about rejuvenation and personal change. It’s about grace and the power of grace. The title is also the name of one of the characters. You’ll see when you read it.
Who is your favorite character?
My favorite character is Lady Grace. I’m not going to spoil things by saying more. I will say that I noticed after writing the book that its major heroes are women. I wrote the story without being aware I’d done it that way. I guess I’d have to say that my favorites are all of those tough and wonderful women that save the day.
Do you have plans for sequels? Can you describe them? When will it/they be released?
Yes. I have at least two sequels in the works. The first, Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground, is a breathtaking romance of legendary proportions. It takes place in the underground bomb shelter on the Piermont estate after the nuclear meltdown. I’ve been told it’s the best thing I’ve written. It will be out in Spring 2012.
And, a fourth story in the series is shaping up in my mind and partially written. That follows directly on Lady Grace. This is going to be a few years out. The Bloodsong Series and Tales from Earth’s End are going to touch in a major way. They may even merge.
Numenon, the first book in the Bloodsong Series, takes place in 1997. When we see Bud and Wes in Lady Grace, it’s 2015. Eighteen years have elapsed in the world of Numenon’s characters. That’s lots of water over the bridge. We have to see what happens to our billionaire, Will Duane, and his little band of outlaws. We have to see what’s going on in the world. My writing focus is going to be on the Bloodsong Series for the next period of time. Lots happens there––I’ve got drafts for many stories.
How long have you been writing? How often do you write?
I’ve been writing full time since 1995. Before that, I wrote academically and professionally. I write every day. I don’t set a particular time or word goal for myself. I write until I deliver a scene or chapter the way I want it. I quit working when I get a feeling satisfaction with my work. That can take a long time to achieve.
What authors have inspired you?
My favorite writer of all time is the Icelandic Nobel Laureate, Halldor Laxness. His Independent People is a masterpiece. Laxness can write two simple lines about a fish and have me in awe and tears. That’s good writing.
D. H. Lawrence is a favorite. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is one of my favorite books, as is Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
For more popular authors, I love Diana Gabaldon’s work. I’ve read the entire, massive Outlander Series three times (!), plus the associated Lord John books, and I even have the graphic novel of Outlander.
I also read lots of books by independent authors. Consuelo Saar Baehr is a favorite.
* * *
PRESS RELEASE: AUTHOR SANDY NATHAN REDEFINES VISIONARY AND NEW AGE FICTION WITH HER TALES FROM EARTH’S END SERIES
SANTA YNEZ, CALIFORNIA – Lady Grace is Sandy Nathan’s latest Visionary and New Age novel. With it, Mrs. Nathan continues to redefine the genre. Many think of Visionary and New Age fiction as an uplifting (if perhaps preachy) category that carries a positive message for humanity. The good guys are pretty much assured of winning, or at least their cause is. New Age fiction in Sandy Nathan’s hands is a no-holds-barred war between good and evil where nothingcan be taken for granted.
“No one––on a spiritual path or not––is guaranteed a smooth ride through life,” Sandy Nathan says. “Existence has the same end point for all of us. We may be on an upward learning curve and have enlightenment as a goal, but the path is not easy, nor is the outcome assured. That’s reality.
“I like reality. My stories feel like they might have happened, even if they’re totally fantastic. Being real includes the possibility that the bad guys might win. In allowing for any outcome, I want my writing to make the literary quality of New Age fiction stronger. And keep its mystical nature.”
Lady Grace, the second book in the Tales from Earth’s End Series, continues the story line of the first book, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy. The Angel ends with a nuclear holocaust destroying almost all life on earth. Lady Grace begins with survivors attempting to create a new society on a planet blasted to a prehistoric state.
As the characters come together, three separate stories emerge and intertwine. Each thread is volatile. Together they are explosive.
The characters of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy return for new adventures surpassing any you can imagine. New voices come forth, including some surprises. “I borrowed from my other series, the Bloodsong Series, and brought a few characters you’ll recognize if you read my first novel, Numenon. Lady Grace spans time and reality for a mix that’s part sci-fi, part fantasy, and definitely Visionary and New Age,” says Mrs. Nathan.
The Tales from Earth’s End Series introduces characters pushed to their greatest extremity––to the end of the planet and their own lives. The people of Earth’s End must cope with nuclear holocaust, survive on a planet reduced to prehistoric standards, and adjust to life in an underground tomb––the bomb shelter on the Piermont estate. And you were thinking life is rough!
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy shows a group of people attempting to escape a nuclear holocaust in a ruined future world. It’s part teen romance and part coming of age story, with overtones of 1984. It’s won two national awards in visionary fiction, another in new age fiction & still another in fantasy/sci-fi.
The Angel‘s first sequel, Lady Grace, brings some of The Angel‘s characters back together and puts them in another struggle for existence. This time, they’re fighting against the elements and a degenerate society which the nuclear war has spawned.
The second sequel, Sam & Emily, is a love story involving two characters from The Angel. It’s an epic romance that takes place in the Piermont Estate’s underground bomb shelter after the nuclear bombs have gone off. Sam & Emily can’t escape a passion that lasts a lifetime. This book sizzles.
All three books have a transcendent, looking-for-a-better-world quality. The protagonists are pitted against horrific difficulties. They’re thrillers and well as visionary fiction.
What to authors do when they’re not writing? In an earlier post, I said we “get real,” meaning think about our books and their characters and do things to make them realer in our minds. Of course, by the time you write and publish your book, you can almost touch the people and things in it, they’re so real to you.
In that earlier post, I shared an imaginary interview with a character from The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, an award-winning visionary fiction novel of mine released in early 2011. Doing a spoof interview is one way of making characters real and sharing that reality with others. Another way is making a video. The video below is my take on what the characters of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy look like.
Not familiar with the book? Here’s a two sentence summary: Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: a teenage boy and an intergalactic traveler. The date is 2199, or thereabouts.
When we’re not doing things like creating the above, we writers write. I’m working away on two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy. The books are in production with an early 2012 release date planned. If you liked The Angel, you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.
WHAT DO AUTHORS DO IN THEIR SPARE TIME? We “get real,” meaning think about our books and characters and make them even more real in our minds. When I write a book, it’s like I’m in a play, and playing all the parts. I know what each character feels and how he relates to the other characters. I get a clear image of how he looks, moves, and speaks. Writing is a wonderful experience, when it’s going well. If I’m blocked or the words don’t flow, I’d just as soon chew on steel wool. Or cockroaches, or something.
A two sentence synopsis of the book: Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: a teenage boy and an intergalactic traveler.
Here’s an “interview” I did with a character from THE ANGEL, Sam Baahuhd. The interview turned this into a short story while I was writing it. (The pieces I write don’t always do what I expect.) Sam’s being interviewed by a TV station of his time. The year is 2199.
What does Sam Baahuhd look like? This is as close as I could get. It’s impossible to convey how masculine Sam is, or how hunky.
Sam Baahuhd, Headman of the Village at Piermont Manor, c. 2199
Here’s what the station’s advertising says about the following interview:
WNYC’S STAR REPORTER MEREDITH CARLISLE INTERVIEWS VILLAGE HEADMAN SAM BAAHUHD.
Join Meredith at Piermont Manor in the Hamptons! Our favorite investigator visits one of the poorest areas in America and one the USA’s greatest and oldest stately homes. Tune in at 3 PM for a view of life in the 22nd century.
WNYC––NEW YORK CITY’S ONLY NETWORK
At the shoot on the estate:
“Meredith, I don’t like it here,” my stylist says, backcombing my hair furiously. I sit at my dressing table on the estate’s lawn. I’m Meredith Carlisle. But everyone knows that.
“Did you see all the trees driving out here? Weird,” he whispers.
“It was very weird.” I turn to the rest of the crew. “Everyone: This is the country. They have trees in the country. We’ll do the show and get back to New York.”
“They don’t have that in the country,” Alfred, the director, points at the stone mansion stretching as far as we can see. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to get it all on camera.”
I stare at the enormous structure. The mansion is like a wedding cake made of granite. Breathtaking. “We’re at Piermont Manor. It was constructed in the 1800s, four hundred years ago. Nobody gets in here. We had to agree to interview this idiot to be allowed in. Who is he? Sam who?”
My crew edges toward the van. They’re freaked out by the acres of lawn and all the trees. The lack of skyscrapers. I take control.
“Alfred, where is the man we’re supposed to interview?”
“I asked those guys over there,” Alfred points to a group of very large men standing on the other side of the lawn. He cowers a bit.
“What did they say?” My crew’s undue nervousness is irritating.
The whites of Alfred’s eyes glint in the sunlight. “I don’t know what they said. They speak a foreign language.”
“Great. Why didn’t anyone find that out? Alyssa, you’re the production manager. Do we have a translator?”
“No, Meredith. I’ll try to find one.” Alyssa looks around helplessly.
“Oh, wait. Someone’s coming.” My jaw drops. I can’t stop looking at him. He’s the same as the mansion. Breathtaking. A huge man. Shoulders like forever. That chest. He strides out forcefully. Something wafts from him. Manliness.
My jaw drops farther as he gets closer. Also, my nostrils twitch. He’s dirty. It’s real dirt, not something applied by the makeup department. He appears to be sweating copiously. He takes off his hat. His graying hair is matted where the hat’s brow band pressed it tight.
“Hello there?” I extend my hand, despite my disgust at his grimy paw. “You must be Mr. . . “ I search for Alyssa and she mouths the pronunciation. “Baaaaah-huuhd.”
“Mr. Baaaaah-huuuhd.” I smile broadly.
“Ma name i’ Sam Baahuhd. A’m th’ headm’n o’ th’ vil’ an’ o’ersee’er o’ th’ big house.” He nods at the mansion.
“Oh,” I say. “Who?”
He repeats what he said.
“Do you have anyone who speaks English? I don’t speak your language.” He’s very appealing close up, if filthy. My heart flutters.
“Ah fergot tha’ yer not o’ th’ Hamptons. Been out here s’ long, we got our own way o’ talkin’. Ah’ll pretend yer th’ hooch man out at Jamayuh. Ah always speak proper English when ah’m w’ him. Canna make a deal otherwise. Can ye understand me?”
“Yes, Mr. . . .”
“Baahuhd. Ye say i’ like this, with th’ air comin’ from here.” He presses my belly, forcing the breath out of me. I feel faint. Something comes off of him, like a force. It’s wonderful.
“Baahuhd. I see. Well, we’re set up for the interview,” I indicate a couple of club chairs set on the mansion’s front terrace. “Any chance of us getting a peek inside?”
“Nah. Jeremy’s got ‘er wired up. Get any closer ‘n’ ye are an’ ye’ll nah go nowhere again.” He smiles, showing surprisingly white teeth.
“Yeah. An’ more. D’ ye know Jeremy Egerton?” I shake my head. “He’s the lady’s son, Mrs. Veronica Egerton. Ye know of her?”
“Oh, yes. Veronica Edgarton is famous. And rich. And beautiful. She’s the general’s . . .”
“Aye. She owns th’ big house an’ the village an’ all th’ rest around here. An’ me, too.”
“She owns you?”
“Might as well. Ye know why yer here t’day?”
“Yes. To interview you.” My cheeks tremble from smiling so much.
“Nah. Yer here because Jeremy Egerton sent word to let ye in.” He looks me in the eye. It’s terrifying, though thrilling. “If Jeremy hadn’t tol’ me to let ye in, ye woulda been chased back to th’ city th’ minute you set foot on this place. That was three hours ago, out on th’ road. Jus’ so we get straight on it.”
“Certainly, Mr. Baah . . .”
“Baahuhd.” He walks to one of the chairs and sits down. “OK. Le’s get this goin.’ Ah got work to do. What ‘er yer questions?”
“I thought that the natives of the Hamptons didn’t like to be asked questions.”
“We don’. Usually, we shoot before we get t’ askin’ questions. But ah figured this was a chance t’ say some things we don’ get t’ say.”
“And what’s that?”
“That we’re not animals. We’re in th’ Hamptons because we was born here, jus’ like ye were born in th’ city. Weren’t our fault. Weren’t our fault that we don’ have schools an’ have to work like we do. Weren’t our fault that we got nothin’.
“We risk our lives seein’ that the lady keeps that,” he tosses his head toward the mansion. “An’ we get very little thanks fer our trouble.”
“You risk your lives?”
“Yeah, lass. Th’ Hamptons is a dangerous place. We get th’ people who run away from th’ cities. Th’ people escape from th’ torture camps––there’s one o’er at Jamayuh, th’ next town down. We got the hooch runners an’ them that deal in the weed and mushrooms. An’ th feds. All of them is dangerous, an all of them want this place.” He smiles. “Coupla times a year, they come t’ get it.” The smile broadens. “Ain’t got it yet.”
“You fight to keep the estate for Mrs. Edgarton?” I’m shocked, but I shouldn’t be. The Hamptons are like the Wild West once was.
“I got plugged three times so far. Not countin’ the nicks.” He rubs his chest where he’s been shot. “Ah’m scarred up lak an ol’ bear. It’s war out here. Jus’ like in the cities.”
“We don’t have war. What are you talking about?”
“Whad’ya think th’ smoke runnin’ along the horizon is? There’s a war.”
“There’s no war. If there were, the government would have told us about it. President Charles says everything is fine.”
He nods his head and smirks. “When ye drove in, did ye happen t’ see big round bowls cut out o’ th’ ground,” he uses his hands to indicate large depressions, “all lined with cement? An’ wi’ long pointy things stickin’ out of ‘em, aimed at the sky?”
“Yes. They’re all over the place. President Charles said they’re satellite dishes to help our screen reception.”
“No, lass. They’re atomics. An’ they’re set to go off t’morrow morning. Early. All over th’ world.” He’s looking at me steadily. He’s so magnetic I almost believe . . .
No! I can’t believe what he’s suggesting. The president would lie? There’s going to be an atomic war? That’s treasonous. We’re in the Great Peace. Everyone knows that. A niggling thought about my daughter’s third grade teacher disappearing comes up. No, she took a leave of absence.
“I’m not going to listen to this.” I turn to Alfred. “Pack up, we’re going back.”
“No,” Sam says just a little bit louder than normal. Everyone freezes and looks at him. “Yer gonna get ev’ry thing ah say, an’ yer gonna play it on the tellie today. Tha’s why Jeremy let ye’ come out here. You gotta tell the people wha’t happenin’.”
“A nuclear war starting tomorrow? The government would have told us.” I’m shaken. For some crazy reason, I believe him and know that I’ll do what he says. “What will we do? Where can we go?”
“Yer gonna go back an’ show ‘er on th’ tellie,” he says to the others. Then he turns that million volt gaze on me. “Fer ye, there may be a way out. Yer a pretty thing. Ye could be one ‘a’ ma wives.” His smile is mesmerizing.
“Wives?” The idea seems worth considering.
“Ah got four. Ye’d be ma fifth, but we gotta big house. The stable, yon.” He points to a barn.
Fifth wife to . . . His dirty hands make up my mind. “No. I’ve already got one ex-husband. I don’t need to be married.” I regret the words as I say them. There’s something about him.
“OK. Ye’ll take th’ camera back t’ the city an’ play ‘er today. Ye need t’ tell the people to . . . to run. Or t’ stand. They’ll die, either way. But they d’serve a warnin’. Tis only fair.
“Tha’s what ah got t’ say. Now git. Ah’m done wi’ ye.”
I watch his back as he heads toward the stable. Broad shoulders. Easy gait. Powerful.
I feel drawn to him. No. I made the right choice. We have to get out of here.
“We’ve got the van packed, Meredith.” I hop in as it pulls away from the mansion.
“You know we can’t play what we got,” Alfred says as we jolt down the rutted road. “It’s treasonous. Everyone knows that the Great Peace is baloney. We’re in a war. But it’s covered up. This will blow the cover. The feds will kill us.”
“Yes, we can. Sam said to,” I’ll do what Sam told me to do no matter what. “We have to give people a warning.”
“Why, Meredith? There aren’t enough bomb shelters in the world to save everyone. We’re going to die.”
And then it sinks in. If what Sam said is true, we’ll die tomorrow.
I should have taken his offer. He wasn’t scared about what’s coming. He must have a shelter or something. “Turn around! We need to get back to the Piermont estate.”
The van shudders to a stop.
“What’s that?” There’s something in front of us. A vehicle across the road. Another vehicle pulls up behind us. Black figures are moving toward our van.
“What is it, Alfred?”
“Open the door,” a black-clad commando yells. “Give me the cameras.” We give them to him.
“I’m Meredith Carlisle of WNYC. Those cameras are the property . . .”
“I don’t care who you are.” He uses some very rude language, and tosses something in the van, slamming the door. It clatters on the floor. I see a digital timer counting down.
After the explosion, the commandos gather near the flaming remains of the van. “We got the treasonous materials. Should we look at them?”
“Nah. The president said everything is all right. That’s good enough for me.”
Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could, the story of a premature baby horse born on a freezing night, is heartwarming and delightful. The book continues to charm readers. More than that: Tecolote has now won three national awards.
Winner: 2011 Silver Nautilus Award for Children’s Nonfiction (Gr. 1-6) The Nautilus Award recognizes books, audio books, and e-books that promote spiritual growth, conscious living and positive social change. The Nautilus Award recognizes distinguished contributions in adult, young adult, teen, and children’s literature. Previous winners include Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Finalist: 2011 National Indie Excellence Contest: Tecolote is a Finalist in:
“I was there the night that Tecolote was born, standing in the field while his mother terroized my husband, daughter and I. His almost tragic premature birth was the stuff of legends. When he grew up to be such a great horse, I knew I’d have to write a book about him. I did––doing little more than writing down what happened. The book has touched everyone who has read it. I give the credit to Tecolote.”
“Sandy Nathan is a born storyteller. The rhythm of her language leads adults and children into a loving but realistic world where horses’ travails provide life lessons for all. I found the parallel horse and human experiences of fear masquerading as anger especially powerful. The beautifully illustrated book contains other reminders of how we should conduct ourselves. Good manners and patient learning smooth the way for all. Sandy’s skilled handling of the death of Tecolote’s mother allows a child to visit this concept without undue trauma. Additionally, Tecolote provides valuable insights into the burdens and joys of owning horses. Any would-be horse owner would do well to read it. Highly recommended!”
Kathleen McGuinness JD
Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is available at:
Amazon Paperback: 8″ X 10″ color photo illustrations throughout. (Note from Sandy Nathan: I prefer this format. The interior is really lovely, with a band of sky and clouds across each page and a band of grass across the bottom. The color illustrations are beautiful. They are photos of Tecolote and his friends while the action was happening.)
The book takes place in the late 22nd century and features a character from outer space. Nuclear Armageddon is supposed to occur the next day. Is it science fiction? A fantasy? Sure is. It’s both science fiction and fantasy.
Does it have anything to say about present day reality and the economic situation we find ourselves in? Oh, yeah. Big time.
I was recently interviewed by Irene Watson of Inside Scoop Live. Irene’s interview captures The Angel’s soul better than anything that’s been produced about the book so far. I began The Angel a few month’s after my brother’s sudden and tragic death. Grief was a motivating factor in my writing, but lots more was active in my overheated subconscious when the book came blasting through. I’m an economist. I’ve been worried about the snail-like progress of our recovery from the Great Recession. I’ve been worried about a lot of things in our world. They come out in Irene’s interview.
Please take a moment to listen to the interview and join me in exploring the direction our world is taking. Is the world of The Angel something that could come to pass? You can hear the interview on the link below, or through the link to Irene Watson of Inside Scoop Live.
THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY is a sci-fi, fantasy, thriller set on the planet earth’s last day. It presents a dark and doomed planet with secrets hidden everywhere. It’s characters are an amazing crew that will haunt you. One reviewer called it, “A future world only heartbeats from our own.”
While THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY has this science fiction/fantasy aspect, it is also the story of a troubled young man’s coming to grips with his family, which has to be the most dysfunctional in the world’s history. He has hours to do it before the nuclear Armageddon.
Most of all, THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY is a love story between Eliana, the angelic dancer who came to earth to save her own planet, and Jeremy, the tech genius, revolutionary, and heir to a fortune. Their love flames in this novel. It’s one of the great love stories, with love reaching through time and space.
I hope you enjoy it on Valentine’s Day or any other.
My new fantasy, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, takes place on the eve of nuclear Armageddon near the end of the 22nd century. The setting is a dark world, in which a ruined United States barely survives on a ruined planet, which is soon to become really ruined. Early readers have commented on how believable my imaginary world is. For instance, award-wining author Todd A. Fonseca said, “It is a world not that many heartbeats away from our own, making the premise chilling.”
I did not intend to write a political book. At the end of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, I write about the book’s inception. My brother died unexpectedly and tragically three years ago. Two months after he died, I had a transcendent dream in which the character of the Angel emerged. In the days following my dream, the plot and characters of The Angelcame to me. The book’s themes have particular and personal meaning to my brother and me. Essentially, my grief wrote The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy,
But what about the world ofThe Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy? It seems about as political as you can get. Yes, it is. The book hinges on a fictitious second Russian Revolution which occurs in 2097. The former president of Russia proclaims himself Tsar, establishes a totalitarian monarchy, and almost takes over the world. Russia becomes the planet’s major power, with the United States sinking to a third rate entity. (Please note that I picked Russia out of a hat. Could be any big power.) Is this possible? Beats me, I write fiction.
However, historical precedent does exist. The stock market crash of 1929 destroyed the financial markets of that era, ushering in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Desperate economic conditions in Germany supported the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. An aggressive totalitarian state arose from an economic disaster and created world war.
In The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, the second Russian revolution of 2097 occurs because the world economy never pulls out of the slump created by the financial meltdown of 2008. The Great Recession we’re floundering through becomes the Really Big Depression. The world economy spirals downward, creating the same desperate conditions that allowed Hitler to rise to power, resulting in my book’s Second Russian Revolution. The worldwide police state in The Angel is fueled by inept political and economic leadership, intellectual laziness and lack of integrity in the people and politicians, fault finding, blaming others, and a massive preference for force over reason.
The whole planet wimps out and lets the bad guys have control.
Some people may find this similar to our current situation. It could be. When I was writing The Angel, not all of me was consumed by grief for my brother. A bunch of things that have been happening to our world and society were rattling around in my subconscious. We’re in a really bad situation economically. The Great Recession that we’re in is the worst economic meltdown since the Depression of the 1930s. We’ve had the mega collapse of our banking and financial systems. Our housing industry is shot. Foreclosures are through the roof (though put “on hold” at this writing). The economy has not responded to monetary policy––i.e., the interest rate cruises around zero and businesses aren’t investing. Corporations are cash rich, but not spending. Fiscal policy (the correct response when monetary policy fails, and which is also currently known as the stimulus program) hasn’t produced the increased economic growth we’ve wanted. Jobs have not increased to the level needed to reduce unemployment. Our citizens face downsizing, layoffs, outsourcing and who knows what else. We make bankruptcy for individuals harder and more punitive, while corporations are bailed out.
What bothers me most about our current economic and political situation? If you watch the news or any political debate, you’ll see a blame game. “He did it.” “No, she did it.” We live as though our current crisis doesn’t have serious, long term consequences for the well-being of everyone in this country and the world. What is the solution?
WE NEED TO ACT LIKE GROWN UPS.
That’s my prescription for the economic/social/personal/moral issues before us. We need to get that we have problems and must work TOGETHER to solve them. We need to realize deeply and fully that COMPLICATED PROBLEMS DO NOT HAVE SIMPLE SOLUTIONS. We should run like crazy from any politician purporting to solve our nation’s problems with solutions that sound like they came off BUMPER STICKERS. We also need to really take in the fact that PROBLEMS THAT HAVE DEVELOPED OVER DECADES AND MANY PRESIDENCIES CANNOT BE SOLVED IN TWO YEARS. We need to grow up, stop whining, and get to work.
As I reflected on these issues, I realized that large groups of people may be incapable of setting their differences aside and recognizing that really smart, educated, good hearted people may have points of view that are different than their own. Masses of people may not be able to solve problems in an effective and nonjudgmental way. Whining and finger pointing, creating “us” vs. “them,” indulging in hatred and hierarchical thinking may be endemic to humanity. I’m talking about both major political parties, “both sides of the aisle.”
Individuals may become enlightened, cooperative, loving, and effective people, but maybe people in large groups just aren’t capable of it.
Where might this lead? Quite possibly to the world of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy,The story’s final solution may be what we’re cruising toward as fast as we can. Check it out.
I’m on a bazillion e-mail lists––I swear, they must reproduce in the night. Every day, I get ecstatic emails about some new system or formula that will FIX ME. Or MAKE ME HAPPIER, MORE FULFILLED. A MAGIC BULLET THAT WILL BRING ME THE SECRET OF MY DREAMS, the dreams I haven’t DARED TO DREAM BEFORE.
All I have to do is listen to a free teleseminar, where I will be seduced into signing up and plunk down big bucks.
Thing is, I ain’t broke. I’m happy, fine, doing well, I don’t need anybody’s friggin’ system to fix me––and I resent these self-appointed gurus assuming they have the right to make the offer. (I have a real guru, and she doesn’t sound like that at all.)
There’s more. I have an MA in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Santa Clara University. I worked had getting that degree and did very well. I began my meditation practice in 1975 and have worked hard in the inner and outer worlds to make my spiritual self the one that runs things. I’ve had three or four professional careers that taught me to exercise my brain and will, and personal skills. The challenges I’ve dealt with myself––cancer and my leg falling apart, for a couple––and in my family have strengthened and tempered my soul.
I know both from a professional, theoretical standpoint and from the work I’ve done on my self that the so called miracle transformation in 30 days or less doesn’t exist.
I know for a fact how hard it is to change, barring acts of God and grace, and how stupid these Get Enlightened Fast schemes are.
There’s no easy way, folks. No fast track to a magic life. You slog through in the trenches, day by day. That’s where the breakthroughs occur, as St. Teresa of Avila pointed out. Daily life is the ground of spiritual transformation.
Read St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Rumi, Mirabai. No easy, sign up now and be free trip will take you where you want to go.
Here’s my promise: I WILL NEVER ATTEMPT TO FIX YOU. You’re fine right where you are, just as you are. And so am I. I’m going to get off all those stupid mailing lists starting now.