Entries Tagged 'SPURS MAGAZINE' ↓

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

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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

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The Gathering 2009 Registration Information Is Here!

Bill Miller gives a Saturday night concert at the Gathering.

Bill Miller gives a Saturday night concert at the Gathering.

Registration information for the Holston Conference Gathering is available at TheGathering.us , the Gathering’s Official Web site. Click the arrowhead marked “Register for the 2009 Gathering.”

You can find information about the Gathering, descriptions of workshops and workshop presenters, and a photo tour of Coker Creek Village, site of the Gathering. A downloadable registration form is available.

Bill Miller, the multi-Grammy winning musician, artist, & speaker, will once again be the Gathering’s spiritual leader. Look forward to more of his insights and a rousing Saturday night concert.

The Holston Conference Gathering 2009 will be held September 19th & 20th 2009 at Coker Creek Village. The Gathering is sponsored by the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Native American Ministries Team. This year marks the Gathering’s 11th anniversary!

I’m working on a report for the 2008 Gathering. I’ll post when its up. Meanwhile, here’s a composite slideshow from a number of past Gatherings. Enjoy!    GATHERING SLIDESHOW

The Gathering retreat inspired Sandy Nathan's award winning book, Stepping Off the Edge.

The Gathering retreat inspired Sandy Nathan's award winning book, Stepping Off the Edge.

Sandy Nathan
Award winning author of
Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice
Numenon

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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

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NUMENON: WINNER OF FOUR NATIONAL AWARDS––SO FAR!

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

NUMENON (Book 1 of the Bloodsong Series) is an astonishing spiritual adventure. Critically acclaimed and beloved by readers, Numenon has now won FOUR NATIONAL AWARDS. (You can read about them below.)

ISN’T IT TIME THAT YOU READ NUMENON?

You can also buy Numenon directly from Sandy Nathan’s website, and get great deals:

A message from Sandy Nathan:

“I’ve been thrilled and shocked and grateful this spring as the book contests announced their winners. Numenon won two more national awards in prestigious contests. All the information about Numenon’s wins is below. I’d like to invite you to read my book. I spent years writing it and fine-tuning it until it said what it was supposed to say. More years getting it published. Now you can reap the fruit of my work and read my book at your leisure.

“I’m hard at work rewriting, re-visioning, Mogollon, Numenon’s sequel. I think you’ll agree that the promise of Numenon is more than delivered in its sequel.

“I appreciate all of you who have purchased Numenon and given me such wonderful reviews. Please let your friends know about Numenon if you’re so moved. We authors need a boost, too!

“All the best on your journey,

Sandy Nathan

NUMENON’S BOOK CONTEST WINS:

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

In May 2009, Numenon won the 2009 SILVER NAUTILUS AWARD for INDIGENOUS/MULTICULTURAL FICTION. The Nautilus Award was established to “change the world one book at a time.” It is devoted to “Recognizing Books and Audio Books that Promote Spiritual Growth, Conscious Living, and Positive Social Change and stimulate the ‘imagination’ and inspire the reader to ‘new possibilities’ for a better world.” Previous Nautilus winners include: Deepak Chopra, M.D., Thich Nnat Hanh, Jean Houston, PhD., Eckhart Tolle, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Andrew Weil, M.D.

(The bestselling book, The Shack, was also a 2009 Silver Nautilus Award winner.)


INDEPENDENT PRESS SILVER MEDAL

INDEPENDENT PRESS SILVER MEDAL

NUMENON has just received a Silver Medal in the 2009 IPPY Awards, claiming its fourth national award. The “IPPY” Award is one of the oldest and largest book contests for independent presses. 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.

Book contest judges noticed Numenon before it was published. As an Advance Reading Copy (ARC or galley), Numenon WON in two contests:

THE BEST BOOKS OF 2007 AWARD in VISIONARY FICTION, USA Book News. The Best Book Award is a large, prestigious contest entered by the major publishers as well as independent presses.

THE 2007 NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARD in RELIGIOUS FICTION. The Indie Excellence contest stresses true excellence produced by independent presses.

THE NUMENON VIDEO:



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The Gathering 2009: Bill Miller Leads the Holston Conference Gathering

Bill Miller gives a Saturday night concert at the Gathering.

Bill Miller gives a Saturday night concert at the Gathering.

Dear Friends,

The Holston Conference Gathering 2009 will be held September 19th & 20th 2009 at Coker Creek Village. The Gathering is sponsored by the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Native American Ministries Team. This year marks the Gathering’s 10th anniversary!

Once again, we are blessed to have Bill Miller, the incredibly talented musician, artist, and speaker, as the Gathering’s spiritual leader. Among many other honors, Bill has won two Grammy Awards and a lifetime Nammy Award. This year, he traveled to Israel where he performed his symphony, The Last Stand, with the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra. The was the first time a Native American symphony was performed in Israel and it was a terrific success. An amazingly prolific and insightful man, I’m sure that Bill will have many new thoughts and feelings to share with us.

The cover of Stepping Off the Edge. Bill Miller's Portrait and dancer Stanley Bell at the Gathering are shown on this cover.

The cover of Stepping Off the Edge. Bill Miller's Portrait and dancer Stanley Bell at the Gathering are shown on this cover.

This is Sandy Nathan, a great friend of the Gathering. Years ago, when I first heard about the retreat, I packed my bag and headed to green Tennessee as fast as I could. The Gathering was such a powerful experience that it inspired me to write a book. Several chapters of the book, Stepping Off the Edge: Learning and Living Spiritual Practice, occur in the Gathering. The book went on to win six national awards.

I also volunteered to put up and maintain the Gathering’s web site. I think it’s a lovely site, but being a “web mistress” leads me to ask: Are computers our friends or enemies? My old computer died a month or so ago after a long illness. I got a new one. None of the programs from my old computer work with the new one, so we have to update and upgrade everything, including the program I use for the Gathering’s web site. At this point, I can’t even get onto the site or my old files. The upgrading process isn’t going as fast as I’d like.

Meanwhile, people are emailing me, wanting to know about the Gathering 2009’s dates and times. Argghh! It’s so frustrating.

I decided to write this blog article about the Gathering 2009 to give people the information they need in this interim period. I’ll have the “real” Gathering 2009 announcement and info up just as soon as we’ve overcome our programming problems. What’s on this blog post should give you what you need right now. Keep scrolling down: There’s lots of info after I sign off.

To get you in the mood: A SLIDE SHOW OF THE GATHERING If you’re new to the Gathering and wondering if you should go, or if you’re an old timer and wouldn’t miss a year, this show will prepare you for the Gathering 2009.

If you would like more information about the Gathering than is available on the Gathering’s web site, my book Stepping Off the Edge is available as a Kindle for a thrifty 99 cents. In addition to the chapters which occurred at the Gathering, the book contains my line drawings of the Gathering’s people, and an exclusive interview by Bill Miller. Click here to go to the Kindle store.

Here’s a video about Stepping Off the Edge.

All the best and hope to see you in Coker Creek this September,

Sandy Nathan

Head Lady Dancer, Siouxsan Robinson (Lakota Blackfoot), & Head Man Dancer, Charles Robinson (Choctaw) at the Gathering 2007.

Head Lady Dancer, Siouxsan Robinson (Lakota Blackfoot), & Head Man Dancer, Charles Robinson (Choctaw) at the Gathering 2007.

RELEVANT DATES:

  • The Gathering is September 19 & 20 at Coker Creek Village.
  • Registration Deadline is 9/5/09.
  • Refund Deadline is 9/5/09.
  • Deadline for Complimentary T Shirt: Your Registration must be received by 9/4/09.

REGISTRATION: Note that you have a long time before the registration deadline, so no need to worry at this date of 5/8/09. A downloadable registration form is available on the Gathering’s web site. The dates, etc., will be updated soon.

COSTS & DAILY SCHEDULE : The daily schedule for the retreat is the same as that shown on the Gathering’s web site. The costs for year’s registration are exactly the same as those shown on the web site. (Both have “strike over” lines through them, but they are correct for 2009.)

T SHIRTS: Those whose registrations are received by September 4, 2009 will receive a complimentary event T-shirt. This year’s shirt will feature a new design created by award-winning artist, Emerson Begay.

Refer to Registration Form for list of sizes. ONLY those whose registrations are received in time to be submitted with our order on Sep. 4th will receive complimentary shirts. A limited number will be available for purchase at the event for $15.

PLEASE REGISTER EARLY TO INSURE THAT YOU GET YOUR SIZE AT NO ADDITIONAL COST!!

WORKSHOPS: The 2009 Workshops are as follows:

WORKSHOP TITLE
PRESENTER
DESCRIPTION
A. CHEROKEE POTTERY
Mary T. Newman
Learn how pottery was made in the old days from potter  Mary T. Newman. This class will also include instruction and hands-on opportunities for working in clay. Of Cherokee descent. Mary T. resides in Ashland City, TN. with her family. She conducts pottery workshops and displays throughout the southeast and as far away as Alaska.
B.  SPIRIT OF THE DRUM Emerson Begay Learn the basics of pow wow singing and drumming, as well as the important role of the drum in Native culture from full-blood Navajo Emerson Begay.Originally from the Farmington NM area, Emerson, is currently living in Kingsport, TN.
C. POW WOW 101 Jonathon Feather This workshop is designed for newcomers to pow wows as well as those who have attended pow wows and had questions they were afraid to ask. This class will include pow wow etiquette, explanations of each dance style and the regalia associated with it, other pow wow customs such as giveaways, etc., and a discussion of common mistakes (offensive questions, etc.) often made by unknowing newcomers. Jonathon is Cherokee/Lakota. He grew up on the Qualla boundary in Cherokee,NC where he now lives. Jonathon has been involved in pow wows his entire life in every aspect from champion hoop dancer to MC and judge of dance competitions.
D. MEDICINE BAGS Linda Cash Learn to make your own medicine bag from accomplished beader Linda Cash. Linda will also discuss the meaning and purpose of medicine bags in Native culture. A native of Clinton, TN., Linda is Cherokee/Metis’.  Her exquisite beadwork is  museum quality and is treasured by those fortunate enough to own one of her pieces.
*THIS IS A TWO-PART CLASS. IF YOU CHOOSE THIS WORKSHOP, YOU WILL TAKE IT BOTH DAYS. PLEASE DO NOT CHOOSE A SECOND WORKSHOP.
E. MAKE YOUR OWN DRUM Lowery Begay
Construct your own drum in the traditional way as you learn about the importance of the drum from full-blood Navajo award winning dancer, artist, and performer Lowery Begay. Lowery grew up in the Farmington ,NM area and now resides in Jonesboro, TN.* THOSE TAKING THIS WORKSHOP WILL BE REQUIRED TO PAY A MATERIALS FEE OF $30 . THIS WILL BE PAID DIRECTLY TO LOWERY AT THE CLASS. THIS WILL BE A TWO-DAY WORKSHOP. IF SIGNING UP FOR THIS WORKSHOP, DO NOT CHOOSE A SECOND ONE.
F. FOOD FOR SPIRIT Charles Robinson Charles will share his insights on the connection between Native spirituality and Christianity and how God reveals Himself to us through His creation. This workshop will enhance your relationship with our Creator, regardless of your personal beliefs. Charles (Choctaw) and his wife Siouxsan operate the Red Road Ministry in Franklin, TN.
G. BLACKFOOT CULTURE/COOKING Siouxsan Robinson Siouxsan (Blackfoot/Lakota) will share with us what life on a western reservation was like for past generations, how it has changed in the present day, and her vision for future generations. **This workshop will include some discussion of the treatment of Native American children in boarding schools which some may find disturbing.

Originally from the Rosebud Reservation, Siouxsan now resides in Franklin, TN with her husband Charles and their five children.

H. CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES Scott Crisp and Jamie Russell Children ages 12 and under will be educated and entertained with activities ranging from stickball to storytelling.  * If we have a wide range of ages, we will separate into appropriate groups.

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Numenon Is a Semi-finalist in the IPPYs! 2009 Independent Publisher Awards

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Sandy Nathan’s book, NUMENON, has been named among the Semi-finalists in the in VISIONARY FICTION in the 2009 Independent Publisher Awards, the “IPPYs”. The judging will continue, naming finalists and Gold, Silver, & Bronze medal winners.

The “IPPY” Awards have recognized the best indie-published books of the year since 1996.

This is the fourth national honor for Numenon. The book recently won the 2009 Silver Nautilus Award in the Indigenous/Multicultural Category.

The Nautilus Award was established to find and reward distinguished literary contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, high-level wellness, green values, responsible leadership and positive social change. The Nautilus Awards are dedicated to “changing the world one book at a time.”

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

NUMENON ALSO WON TWO NATIONAL AWARDS PRE-PUBLICATION: It won the BEST BOOKS AWARD in VISIONARY FICTION from USA Book News. Numenon also won the NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARD in RELIGIOUS FICTION.

The judging continues in the the 2009 Nautilus and IPPY Awards. Gold Nautilus Award winners will be announced on May 29th. IPPY Finalists and Winners are being posted daily. The finalists for the IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Award in New Age have yet to be announced: Numenon is entered in that category.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their support of me and Numenon,” says author Sandy Nathan. “Your prayers and good wishes are much appreciated––and still needed. We’re at the finish line now. Please continue to send your good energy,” says Sandy Nathan.

“If you’re interested in buying Numenon, I would urge you to buy the version that has won the prizes: the first edition hardback.

“The hardback edition has been winning prizes because it’s a good book–and it’s drop dead gorgeous. The dust jacket is beautifully designed and printed. The Numenon logo, title and author’s name are embossed; running your hand over the jacket’s surface is lovely. Under the protective jacket, the book’s black, three-part cover is stamped in gold. The Numenon logo is on the front, the spine’s design matches the dust jacket’s.

“The book’s endpapers are a golden color, printed with an artist’s rendering of the Mogollon Bowl, the site of the retreat to which the caravan is headed. None of the other versions have this. The book’s interior is as elegant as the rest of the book, with the Numenon logo heading each chapter. The book is printed on acid-free paper: It will last a very long time.

“If you love books and want a book you will keep and treasure, this is your edition. If you’re looking for a special gift, here it is.

“A great deal is available on my web site––the hardback version of Numenon and the trade paperback of Stepping Off the Edge, both signed and inscribed to you, with no shipping for $29.95. Click here to see the offer. We offer free shipping on all purchases of 2 or more books. Email us on the order page for details.

“We also offer a paperback and Kindle edition through Amazon. We’re offering the KINDLE VERSION FOR AN ASTONISHING 99 CENTS for a limited time. This is a book that’s a winner of four national awards. Wow!

“We’re working on versions for Sony readers and other electronic readers. Those will be coming soon/

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

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

Once again, thanks for the support and good wishes!

Sandy Nathan


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Buy Stepping Off the Edge for 99 cents! Kindle version is less than a buck!

Stepping Off the Edge is a wild ride to sacred places.

Stepping Off the Edge is a wild ride to sacred places. Includes an exclusive interview with Bill Miller, award winning Native musician, artist, & speaker.

Now you can buy the Kindle edition of Sandy Nathan’s award-winning book, Stepping Off the Edge, for 99 cents! Vilasa Press offers the book at this great price for a limited time only. Click here and go to the Kindle store.

The Kindle edition of Stepping Off the Edge is absolutely gorgeous: The Native American themed interior and cover converted to the Kindle format better than we hoped. All of Sandy Nathan’s pen and ink drawings are included and look beautiful.

This is the book that proves spiritual studies do not have to be boring. Stepping Off the Edge is part memoir, part self help, part riding lesson (horses play a big part), and all amazing. This book was written duing a period of author Sandy Nathan’s life “that I’m glad is over. Though it provided great material and a way of illustrating everything useful I learned earning 2 master’s degrees and a life of spiritual practice.”

Join Sandy as she finds her roots in Missouri’s Ozarks, travels to Tennessee to a Native American retreat, and meets Bill Miller, multi-Grammy winning musician and artist. Lots more, including the meaning of the word “fault” to people from California.

Come on a spiritual journey with an award winning author!

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE WON SIX NATIONAL AWARDS!
* 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist in New Age (Spirituality/Metaphysics)
* Bronze Medal Winner in Self Help, 2007 IPPY Awards
* National Indie Excellence Awards 2007: Finalist in THREE Categories: Memoir, Self Help, & Spirituality.

FROM THE BACK OF THE BOOK:
When Sandy Nathan set out to write a book about her profound experience at the Gathering, a Native American spiritual retreat, little did she know it would guide her to chronicle a life of stepping off the edge. Again and again , she takes the risks needed for her soul’s growth and vividly presents her personal journey––one of growing into the courageous spiritual being she is. Sandy reminds us we all possess spiritual greatness: It is our birthright.

By walking with Sandy along her path we get more than a glimpse of a person. We get a revealing and inspiring view of her life. Her adventure and the understanding she adds as she writes help us use her experience to enhance out own development. This book does much more than tell about a life: It takes us by the hand (or sometimes by the nose) and leads us to the opportunity afforded by spiritual practice. And practice is the key word.

Stepping Off the Edge is alive with information and inspiration. It is a book about doing. It’s more than a book that describes chocolate cake or even one that tells you how to make chocolate cake. It is a book that gets your mouth watering for chocolate cake and then lets you loose in the kitchen stocked with recipes and everything you need to make your own chocolate cake. With fudge frosting. And chocolate chips if you want them.

In this fascinating narrative you will encounter the basics of prayer, meditation, worship, spiritual retreat, and how a life can become dedicated to the pursuit of experiencing the divine. You will even find how to domesticate your mind and make it an ally in your quest for inner knowledge.

It is said that the path to self-awareness is a solitary one. Stepping Off the Edge opens you to the possibility that it can be fun, challenging and rewarding.

Sandy Nathan & Bill Miller at the Gathering Book Signing

Sandy Nathan & Bill Miller at the Gathering Book Signing

WHAT DO THE CRITICS SAY?

“This is a dynamic book. It’s alive with Ms. Nathan’s passion, and her presence is in every line, teaching and learning with you, helping you when you stumble, because she’s stumbled too. It’s rich with energy and meaning.”
– Gerald DiPego, Screenwriter, Phenomenon

“Sandy’s book has got to be one of the most fun to read books about spirituality ever written. She takes the reader along on her adventures with a down to earth approach and style that keeps the reader in touch–with both reality and spirituality. Informative, entertaining, and enlightening.”
Natural Horse Magazine, Volume 8 Issue 5

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Numenon wins the 2009 Nautilus Silver Award––now it competes for the Gold!

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

By winning a Nautilus Silver Award with her book, Numenon,  author Sandy Nathan joins the ranks of  Deepak Chopra, M.D., Barbara Kingsolver, Thich Nnat Hanh, Jean Houston, PhD., Eckhart Tolle, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. All are Nautilus Award winners. “Joining the company of these people moves me to tears,” says Sandy.

As a Silver Award Winner, Numenon will pass to the highest level of judging for the Nautilus Awards, the Gold Award level. If Numenon wins at this level, it will be featured at the Book Expo America and win many other honors.

“As wonderful as it would be to win the Gold Award, what thrills me is what the Nautilus Awards are about,” says Sandy. “My writing and life are directed toward making this planet a better place. I feel like I’ve found a spiritual home with the Nautilus contest and the people behind it.”

The Nautilus Award was established to find and reward distinguished literary contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, high-level wellness, green values, responsible leadership and positive social change as well as to the worlds of art, creativity and inspirational reading for children, teens and young adults.

The Nautilus Awards are dedicated to “changing the world one book at a time.”  Books are judged in a three-tier system using a carefully prepared list of notable characteristics. The judging process is laborious and long, carried out by three teams of highly qualified reviewers. They have successful careers in the book industry as well as the vision to pick out books that offer new options for a better world.  Each book is evaluated by at least two judges. Silver winners are selected from each category by the readers in Team #2, and these winning titles are then passed along to the third team where the Gold winners are chosen.  Two judges must agree on each Silver winner – and consensus is required for the Gold Winners.

Sandy Nathan, "one happy author!"

Sandy Nathan, "one happy author!"

“This blog is one way that I connect with my fellow writers and authors, as well as my readers,” says Sandy Nathan. “I have a request. I would appreciate your prayers, blessings, good wishes, positive thoughts, or whatever fits your personal beliefs for Numenon as it winds its way through the Nautilus judging process and the judging of the other contests in which it’s entered. It’s entered in four or five more. I believe in the power of prayer, and I always pray reciprocate. Actually, I just pray for everyone all the time. If you could cast a positive vibe in Numenon’s direction, I’d be very grateful.”

Please consult the Nautilus Book Awards web site for more information.

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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:

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