Warning: include_once(/home/bnathan/sandranathan.net/wp-content/plugins/wordsocial/wordsocial.php): failed to open stream: Permission denied in /home/bnathan/sandranathan.net/wp-settings.php on line 303

Warning: include_once(): Failed opening '/home/bnathan/sandranathan.net/wp-content/plugins/wordsocial/wordsocial.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/local/lib/php:/usr/local/php5/lib/pear') in /home/bnathan/sandranathan.net/wp-settings.php on line 303
SANDY NATHAN'S BLOGS |

Entries Tagged 'SANDY NATHAN’S BLOGS' ↓

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy – The Cast of Characters

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.


Click here if video doesn’t appear above.
(Remastered and updated video.)

So what else do we authors do to magnify our vision of our books? How about create a video about the whole book, people, places, story, conflict? Take a look at this:


Click here if video doesn’t appear above.
(Remastered and updated video.)

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.


Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

All the best,

Sandy Nathan
Winner of seventeen national awards

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link for more information. All links below go to Kindle editions.)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice


Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

Meet Sam Baahuhd, a Character from The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy the Award-winning Visionary Fiction Novel

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.

What’s below is an interview of a character from THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY, an award-winning novel released in early 2011.

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

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.

“It’s electrified?”

“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?”

“They’re feds.”

“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.

“No!”

 

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.”

 

All the best,

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan
Winner of seventeen national awards for her books

Sandy’s books are: (Click link for more information. All links below go to Kindle editions.)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money
Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could
Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with an early 2012 release date planned. If you liked The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

I’M ON THE SPIRITED WOMAN TOP 12 VALENTINE’S DAY BOOK PICKS!

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy cover

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy cover

It’s an honor for my new book THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY to be included on THE SPIRITED WOMAN’S  list of romantic books perfect for Valentine’s Day. Many thanks to Nancy Mills & The Spirited Woman. The Spirited Woman is a leading (& growing) women’s empowerment community, founded by Nancy Mills. The Spirited Woman’s belief: YOU ARE ENOUGH AS YOU ARE. YES!

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.

Sandy Nathan

THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY Trade Paperback Edition

THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY Kindle Edition

HERE’S  VIDEO SHOWING THE BOOK’S LOOK AND FEEL:

HERE’S A VIDEO GIVING MY IDEAS OF WHAT THE BOOK’S PEOPLE AND PLACES LOOK LIKE. Ever want to cast a movie? That’s what I do here.

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

Is The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy a Political Book?

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy cover

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy cover

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 Angel came 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 of The 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.

Is The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy political? No more than life.

It’s actually a story of personal reconciliation at earth’s end. And it’s a love story.

Sandy Nathan MA
former Economic Analyst, Santa Clara County CA

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

Father’s Day Tribute to Andy Oddstad, my Dad

Andy Oddstad skiing in the SF Bay 1960s

Andy Oddstad water-skiing in the SF Bay 1960s

Okay, so it’s a little after Father’s Day––the thought was there. One of the terrific things about the Internet is that it brings people together. People you didn’t even know introduce themselves. About a year ago, I heard from the daughter of the folks who bought my family home in Atherton CA about 35 years ago.

It is a special house. Built in six weeks (that’s right, 6 weeks) in the middle of a carpenter’s strike (you got that right, too), the house was destined to be memorable. Not because it was a McMansion of the type littering our hillsides today. The home my parents, Andy and Clara Oddstad, built in the 1950s was a comfortable rancher on an acre. It had a pool, but it wasn’t a showy house. Atherton always has been a pretty fancy address, a bit more restrained in those days.

The move from San Francisco was a huge leap for my folks, both of whom had grown up on the rough side of the Great Depression. “If we can’t afford it, Honey Chum, we can always sell it,” my dad told my mom, thinking positively. (He called her Honey Chum, typical of those goofy ’50s nicknames.)

My dad was Andy Oddstad, President of Oddstad Homes, which was at that time closing in on being the largest residential developer in northern California. He started out as a carpenter, which is why the guys built his house during a strike. He had been––maybe still was––an AFL/CIO Carpenters’ Union member.

The house was built, we moved into it and spent many happy years living there–-my folks didn’t have to sell it after all. Oddstad Homes became the biggest home builder in northern California by a long stretch.

In 1964, my dad was killed by a negligent and possibly drunk driver. Everything changed. After a few years, my mom found the house was too big and too laden with memories. She sold it and moved on––regretting the sale almost immediately, actually.

The house passed from our hands but continued to glow in our memories.

What a surprise when I heard from Stephanie, the daughter of the people who bought our house! She found me searching online. We hit it off by email right away. The house continued to charm: Her family lived there for years, kids growing up with memories as glowing as mine. She told me stories of the house––including a real ghost story! I was so glad that our old home had been so cherished.

Recently, Stephanie emailed me again to say that her parents had sold the house. It was time for them to leave. But they didn’t want to move. None of the solutions Stephanie showed them felt like their nest of so many years. Other houses just weren’t the same.

“I found one house for them, and just felt ‘This is the one.’ I cut through all the ‘We don’t like it’ and got them to move.” When she was moving her parents into their new home, she found something in a kitchen drawer. It was a brochure by the developer, pointing out a philosophy of building. The brochure dated from the 1960s and was signed by the builder, Andy Oddstad.

From the minute Stephanie’s folks knew they were living in an Oddstad Home, they settled down and felt they were in the right place.

An amazing story, yes? It brought tears to my eyes. I hope the new owner of our families’ home at 69 Catalpa Drive in Atherton hears it. I hope the simple and comfortable home that we knew doesn’t get transformed into an ostentatious edifice fit for pseudo-royalty.

What did the brochure say that prompts me to post it here? The text of the message is below. It’s a clarion call of an era based on true value, not show and appearance. Listen to my dad’s words:

The brochure’s title:
FARM HILL
ODDSTAD HOMES
MEDALLION SERIES

“WE FIRMLY BELIEVE that every home buyer should select a home with an eye on investment, as well as a place to live. We firmly believe that every builder has a responsibility for the kind of homes he creates. We accept this responsibility. As local builders, not here for a day on a quick investment, standing behind the 8,000 homes we have already constructed in the bay area, we realize that keeping an eye on the investment value of your home is a solid, responsible way to do business.

“We have carefully selected conservative designs because experience tells us this is the surest way to keep property values high––for the individual owner and for the community. Fads come and go; we’re here to stay.

“We purchase land in the thriving Bay Area communities, easily accessible to work centers, and because we are a big outfit, we buy big––we develop the land ourselves put in the improvements: roads, sidewalks, and sewers; no middle men [implying] no hidden costs when you buy one of our homes.

“Our production is enormous. Each working hour, a new foundation is poured; each working week, 40 new homes are completed.  Skilled crews go from job to job without wasted motion or lost time; ready made forms, jigs, scaffolding and labor saving equipment go with them to save time and expense––so we can deliver a better home, better built, at a lower price.

“The executives in our organization came up from the ranks. I myself was a carpenter. I still am. I take pride in the materials and the workmanship that go into each of our homes––from the foundations to the trim. You are invited to come out and watch us build––to see for yourself why our homes cost less when you buy … are worth more if you sell.”

Andy Oddstad
President
ODDSTAD HOMES

We’re in the middle of the Great Recession now. I read my dad’s words and thought, “If our society had continued to be base itself on the solid reality and true financial conservatism that this brochure demonstrates, we wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in.”

Today, companies are about marketing position and branding, about the “USPs”–unique selling propositions––magic words to charm the consumer into buying an illusion that she can’t afford and doesn’t need.

My dad’s words on a forgotten brochure reminded me of who he was. I could almost hear his voice. Growing up around Andy Oddstad was a lot like growing up in the Marines––he was very demanding. He required excellence of everyone around him. But he had something very valuable to say and a product to offer. Mostly, the way he lived––athlete, body builder, community member, husband, father, philosopher––was his message.

Andy Oddstad & Triff Trifeletti

Andy Oddstad & Triff Trifeletti

Thank you, dad, and many thanks to all those who worked for Oddstad Homes and with him. I remember Triff Trifelletti, Gordon Hanson, John O’Malley, Chuck Jonas and so many others who worked with and for Oddstad Homes. And of course, I love and remember my dear auntie Elma Mendola, who worked with my dad from the beginning, along with my mom, Clara Oddstad.

As of 1964 when my dad was killed, Oddstad Homes had completed over 14,000 homes, 2,500 apartment units, three shopping centers, a youth center, and a couple of churches in the San Francisco Bay Area. An incredible legacy of achievement.

I often wonder what my dad would think of the world today if he could see it. He died before the Beatles became popular, when a really nice house could be purchased in the SF Bay Area for $36,000, when cars had fins and so did guys’ hair styles. He would not be able to believe housing prices or the consumer lifestyle of today.

Sometimes networking on the Net isn’t about wasting time, it’s about remembering what’s important.

All the best,
Sandy Nathan

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

In God We Trust – Or Do We?

This Lightning-blasted Tree Reminds Me of God's Power.

This Lightning-blasted Tree Reminds Me of God's Power.

“In God we trust” appears on our currency. These words are controversial. They prompt some people to fight for their removal, while others insist that they belong on our money and everywhere else.

I ask: Do we trust God? If so, which one? I’ll explain.

I recently had a flamboyant lesson in paying attention. Paying attention to what I thought and believed–and what I worshiped. And also in paying attention to where I put my feet.

By May 2009, I was a mess. In 2008, I wrote manuscripts for three sci-fi books, got the first book of the Bloodsong Series, Numenon, into print and launched, and charged ahead with marketing activities.

In my spare time, I had major surgery on my ankle. My surgeon fused the foot bone to the leg bone, the only thing possible to fix the arthritis in the joint. (Yes, it hurt. Recovery has been slow.)

I added on-line book marketing to the mix in 2009-and began obsessing about my Amazon sales figures, posting on writers’ and marketers’ blogs, writing four of blogs of my own, and bringing out Kindle editions of my books. And Twittering! It worked: People learned my name. Kindle sales soared.

But I had to keep at it, working hard every day. If I relaxed, I’d fall behind the hordes of authors more dedicated to tweaking the system than me.

* * *

I was ready for a meltdown and knew it. I’m a long time observer of my inner state, or spirit. The first definition of spirit on my computer is “a vital force that characterizes a living being as being alive.” Being alive interests me.

Riding or walking through our Santa Ynez hills is a balm to my soul.

Riding or walking through our Santa Ynez hills is a balm to my soul.

Things weren’t all bad. When my fused ankle healed enough for me to walk, I had resumed (slowly and carefully) a ritual of many years. A circular path meanders around our ranch. I’ve walked that path every day, contemplating the world and the state of my soul. This walk is a form of prayer.

When I’m in good shape inside, I look at the golden hills around me, feel the breezes, and hear the birds’ cheerful calls. My heart opens and a blast of light and love bursts forth. I become a clear lens, open to the will of the unfathomable power that created and sustains the universe.

In this state, I can write words worth reading.

As May 2009 approached, my walks reflected my soul’s condition. Exhausted and trying to keep going, I tottered along, piling through every mental “to do” list I’d ever made.

Far from being a clear explosion of energy, my heart’s well was like some of the koi ponds I’ve seen: a scummy, turgid hole that no self-respecting fish would enter voluntarily. I swam in a nasty soup created by my thoughts and obsessive actions.

One day, I heard an an inner voice as I walked. It said,  “I believe in a shiftless god.”

I stopped on the path and laughed. What a great book title! But that was it: I was worshiping a supreme power that was unreliable, uncaring, and prone to quit when needed It most.

This shiftless god required ceaseless appeasing. I had to slave for every crumb of success, every review, radio appearance, and book sale. Nothing came from the bounty of an all-knowing being that loved me and wished me well.

I was worshiping a “god” reflecting my own state of mind.

* * *

I felt lousy, but knew what to do. I needed to make my way back to the real God, the benevolent Creator of heaven and earth, the fountain of love and mercy that I’ve experienced so often in my life. I also had to put the right Sandy in control of my life. The deepest Sandy, my own true Self.

I knew exactly how to accomplish the transformation: Go to New Mexico. The area around the City of Santa Fe is like spiritual catnip to me. A couple of weeks there, meditating and doing spiritual practice, and I’d be ready to hit Amazon and Twitterland like a linebacker. I’d be able to break the writer’s block that had me completely foiled in my attempts to work on Numenon’s sequel.

NOT. What we think is going to happen and what happens can be very different.

My husband and I headed off to our place near Santa Fe in early May. Unfortunately, I came down with the flu a few days before we left. The symptoms were so bad that I looked up Swine Flu on the Net. My flu lacked the high fever, but had all the other attributes of that nasty porcine virus.

The kidney infection that I got on top of the flu turned my body into a torture chamber.

No one gets a kidney infection and the flu. No one goes on vacation in the condition I was in.

* * *

The flu ran its course and the tons of antibiotics my doctor prescribed did the trick. Days after arriving in New Mexico, I was able to wobble around on my I-thought-healed, fused ankle. I felt better; the Santa Fe magic was working. A smile lit my face.

Until I stepped in the hole.

Actually, it wasn’t a hole; it was a rut. Not a big rut, such as a large truck might make. More of a slight incline from the tire of a small car. A patch of not too level dirt that I stepped on with my bad leg without noticing it.

All I felt was a little crunch on the outside of the fused ankle, not even a sound or a pain. Just a little sensation of doom. Having a bad back, I know all about such sensations. If I had felt that little twinge in my back, I knew I’d be flat on my back in agony for three weeks.

As it was, a purple, cucumber-shaped swelling lodged under the anklebone on each side of my foot. The swelling ran up my leg. When it got to my (previously totally replaced) knee, that joint ballooned, quickly resembling a cantaloupe. Hard, firm, and definitely not ripe, my knee bulged into a form I’d never seen.

All I wanted was my surgeon in Los Angeles, but I knew that I’d never make it through the airports to get to him. I hurt so much that I wasn’t capable of calling his office to ask for advice. I did what I knew he would say, “Rest, ice, keep your ankle above your heart.”

After a week I’d improved enough to call the doctor’s office. “Did you get it X rayed? The bruising sounds like you chipped a bone,” his nurse said.

* * *

I’m spilling all this not as a ploy for sympathy, but to tell you about my life. Physical illness and injury have been a large part of the challenges I’ve faced in this incarnation. Maybe I’m trying to get it all done so I don’t have to go through this stuff again in a future go-round. (This explanation serves if you believe in reincarnation. I’m not sure that I do.)

For whatever reason, I’ve had lots of really rotten physical stuff happen to me. It’s the learning I must process in this life. Your task is undoubtedly different, but I’m sharing “our vacation in Santa Fe” to illustrate the fact that dinner at your mother-in-law’s, or whatever bedevils you, may not be so bad.

The thing about the ankle cucumbers and cantaloupe knee is that they stopped me dead. I’m a work-o-holic. If possible, I would work 24 hours a day. But there I was, flat on my back, unable to move. In too much discomfort to do anything. That included obsessing about Amazon sales.

My experience is that God will do anything necessary to get you to listen. This case pulled out the stops: He/She/It had me powerless.

The meditation retreat portion of our vacation began in earnest.

And it worked.

Hitting bottom is the essence of spiritual healing as I have experienced it. As a burned out young mother and graduate student, a burned out doctoral student, a burned out author, and finally a burned out lady with vegetables for leg joints–all the times in my life I’ve wiped myself out–I found getting to a dead stop is the key to turning around.

This is not fun. One of the things that I realized as I lay with my leg propped up on pillows is that my days of riding horses are probably over. If I could hurt myself as badly as I did stepping on a tiny ridge of dirt, what would happen if my mare got silly going through a gate and whacked my foot into a fence post? What if she fell and landed on my injured leg? Doesn’t require much imagination to figure out the consequences.

I also realized that I probably can’t go to the Gathering, the Native American spiritual retreat that inspired my first book, Stepping off the Edge. The retreat is in Tennessee and I can’t see myself able to negotiate the plane changes of the cross-country flight, picking up a rental car, and finding my way out into the Cherokee National Forest to the retreat grounds. This almost killed me. I spent some time boo-hooing.

Sharing one’s insights with another person is key in healing. I told my husband what I’d realized and he was relieved. I’m a hard dog to make heel, and he was afraid of what might happen to me if I continued my bull-headed ways.

I’m not going to write a book on spiritual practice and how to heal your soul. I already have: Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice. I recommend this book to you. It’s got every trick I’ve learned earning my two Master’s degrees, my 34 year meditation practice, and lots of personal growth. This book shows you what happens in spiritual healing and how to do it.

After you bottom out, the real God can finally get through. Healing is a matter of listening to what’s presented to you. It may seem trivial as it happens.

For instance, I belong to a book club. The meeting was set for two days after we got back from Santa Fe. By purest happenstance, the book for that month was Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza. I downloaded it onto by beloved Kindle and began to read. It’s the story of the author’s experience hiding in a 3 foot by 5 foot bathroom with seven other women. They were there for 3 months as rampaging Hutus stalked them just outside.

I feared that the book would be a nightmare of proselytizing and genocide. Forget my fear: This book is a miracle, the finest example of contemporary Christian mysticism I have read. Ilibagiza is Catholic and her faith shines in this book, as well at the living presence of Jesus Christ. She outlines miraculous experiences occurring time after time after time, as she prayed to God for physical as well as spiritual protection. She came out of her ordeal whole and inspired, stepping into a life she loves.

Flat on my back, with no resistance to anything, I cried through the whole thing. Left to Tell’s words kindled the flame of my own spiritual roots. By the time I finished, my soul was blazing. I was in touch with the real God, my Christian roots, and the power of prayer and meditation. My transforming journey began with reading Left to Tell.

Healing is about collapse of what doesn’t work, surrender to a greater reality (God, a Higher Power, Whatever), acceptance of one’s errors and a turning to a new way. That’s pretty well known and straightforward.

What’s not so well know is that healing and spiritual practice is a blast. The hallmark of spirit is bliss. Don’t buy anybody’s words if you can’t feel the bliss behind them.

Also–did you know that the Asian concept of chakras, those invisible energy centers aligned up your spine that spin when you’re inspired, is absolutely true? So is kundalini–the uncoiling spiritual energy that starts at the base of the spine and moves upward, striking the charkas as it goes.

Providing the original and ultimate meaning of “ring my chimes.”

Yep, once I got past the hard stuff like swollen ankles and exhaustion, the good times rolled. Spiritual energy started to flow and my charkas shone and spun in vivid colors. A spiritual seeker can lights, hear bells, and have visions, getting ripped out of his or her mind. This one sure did.

The trip ended up a glorious success. I’m home, feeling no pressure to do anything but write this blog piece. This is first on the agenda, then we’ll see what’s next.

I feel like a giant and very trustworthy hand has reached into my life and changed my direction. I don’t feel any compulsion or worry. I’m not concerned about my book sales. Certainly not Twitter or go on-line.

This will come in time, I’m sure, but I won’t act until told to by the real God, the one you can trust.

Sandy Nathan: "It's about the good times! May they all be good times!"

Sandy Nathan: "It's about the good times! May they all be good times!"

All the best,

Sandy Nathan

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

NUMENON WINS THE 2009 IPPY SILVER MEDAL IN VISIONARY FICTION!

Independent Publisher Book Awards

Independent Publisher Book Awards

JUST ANNOUNCED: NUMENON by Sandy Nathan won the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards’ Silver Medal in Visionary Fiction. The “IPPY” Award is one of the oldest and largest book contests for independent presses, with more than 4,000 books competing this year.

A press release from Independent Publishers provides more information about the contest in their news release:

======================
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
======================

May 21, 2009 — New York, NY — Organizers of the 13th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards, conducted to honor the year’s best independently published books, have announced the results for the 2009 competition.

This year’s awards attracted 4,090 entries from throughout the U.S. and Canada, plus most English-speaking countries worldwide. Medal-winning books came from 44 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, eight Canadian provinces, and six countries overseas. Launched in 1996 as the first unaffiliated awards program open exclusively to independent, university, and self-published titles, the 2009 IPPY Awards will be presented to winners at a gala celebration during BookExpo America in New York on Friday, May 29th. Winners receive gold, silver and bronze medals and can place foil seals of the medal image on their book covers.

“Today’s readers are seeking diverse perspectives on hot-button issues,” said awards director Jim Barnes. “This year’s list represents a mix of established independents and bold new voices, and their messages echo the call for change and a straightforward approach to dealing with the world’s social, political and economic problems.”

The IPPY Awards are presented by IndependentPublisher.com, the online “voice of independent publishing” operated by publishing services firm Jenkins Group of Traverse City, Michigan. The annual IPPY Awards celebration on Friday night during BookExpo America is a highlight of the weekend and publishing media are welcome to attend.

For more details about the Awards, to attend the event, or to interview recipients, please contact:

Jim Barnes, Managing Editor & Awards Director
Independent Publisher Online/Jenkins Group
www.IndependentPublisher.com
Ph: 1.231.933.4954 x1011
jimb@bookpublishing.com

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

Numenon Kindle Is .99 on Amazon!

The Kindle version of Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mystery is available and priced at an unbelievable 99 cents!

Here’s a link to Numenon on the Amazon Kindle Store!

Am I crazy? Like a fox! When I last looked, Numenon was #8 in Religious Fiction (closing on The Shack), and #1 in Mysticism in two categories of Religion & Spirituality. JOIN THE STAMPEDE!

Buy the Kindle version of Numenon, and you can enter the world of Will Duane, the richest man on earth, and Grandfather, a great Native shaman, in less then a 60 seconds. Numenon won two national awards as an Advance Reading Copy. It’s entered in more contests. We’re waiting for results.

Here it is on my web site: Numenon on SandyNathan.com

Here it is as a print book on Amazon. Look at those Five Star Reviews.

Check out this video:

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

I’m Healed! Let the fun begin! And a poem, “An Old Lady on Horseback.”

Sandy Nathan’s First Ride after SurgerySandy Nathan rides again!
Shakti and I on our first spin around the arena after my ankle surgery.

I originally posted this blog in March 2009. It’s got a funny poem at the end I’d like to share. SN

Last Tuesday, I visited Dr. Rick Ferkel, the surgeon who fused my arthritic ankle last September. He pronounced me healed. Yep, my ankle is officially better. I am cleared to walk, swim––and ride my horse! Which I did, minutes ago.

Here’s pictorial evidence. Any problems? Not while I was riding. I’m sore all over now, and I expect my mare is as well. Horses are just like people; they get flabby and out of shape. I suspect that Shakti and I both need an exercise class.

In honor of the historic and successful healing of my  ankle, I’m sharing a REALLY BAD POEM that I wrote in 1995, when I was much younger, but had not been rebuilt. That is, my knee had not been replaced nor my ankle fused. This little ditty is also an ode to the Peruvian Paso Horse, the smoothest riding horse in the world. Our Peruvians have kept me in the saddle for many years.

AN OLD LADY ON HORSEBACK
Sandy Nathan  6/95

Got bad hips, shoulders, knees, and more.
A back that’s degenerated, herniated
And sore.

The –itis family––
arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis––
has moved in on me.

I’m an old lady on horseback!

When I was young, I rode ’em all:
Quarter horses, Arabs, Appies and Paints.
Loped with a drill team and through many a show.
I trained and rode with the best,
Competed hard and won my share.

I had a glorious time–
Until the –itis  got me.

I’m an old lady on horseback!

Now, I get on a horse that trots,
My back talks back and I see spots.
I saw the light and changed my tune,
Traded my Quarter Horse
For a sports model, made in Peru.

You may laugh when you see him move,
Sliding along in a four beat groove.
But his funny-looking paddle
Keeps me in the saddle.

When we cruise by, don’t you cry.
I’m having the time of my life.
My little fellow is smooth as Jell-O,
And my –itis   likes him, too!

Though I might have to ride in spurts,
When I do, nothing hurts!
And while I can’t always show him,
At least I get to know him.

I’m grateful to my little gaited horse.
‘Cuz of his easy going ways, I get to stay–

An old lady on horseback!

And that’s what’s important, in my book.
For as long as I can ride,
I know I’m alive!
(And I’ve gotten to like that Peruvian look.)

I’m an old lady on horseback!

Eeee—haah!!!

sandyshaktiankle4.jpg Happy trails, everyone

Sandy Nathan
Winner of seventeen national awards

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link for more information. All links below go to Kindle editions.)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with an early 2012 release date planned. If you liked  The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

Numenon A Tale of Mysticism & Money – A Video!

Here’s a video about Sandy Nathan’s new book, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money. Click and be transported!

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit