Category: Spurs Writers’ Corner

The IPPY Award Winners Announced Starting April 30!

This is the Silver Nautilus Award won by my children's nonfiction book, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could.

I just received the notice below from The Independent Publisher, the company sponsoring the 2014 IPPY (Independent Press) Awards:

Thank you for entering the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards! [I entered my brand-new visionary fiction/fantasy/multi-cultural mix 'em up Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem]

And thanks for being part of this amazingly diverse, world-wide contest. Over 5,000 entries have come in, from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, nine Canadian provinces, and 33 other countries around the globe.  [That's lotsa books.]

JUST ONE MORE WEEK OF JUDGING UNTIL THE RESULTS ANNOUNCEMENT! [Whoa. I had no idea the judging was ending so soon.]

We plan to begin announcing results a week from today, WEDNESDAY APRIL 30th, and finalize results by Friday, May 2nd. Results will go live the following Tuesday, May 6th, and be announced to the public and national media that day.


We plan to begin announcing results on about April 30th, to try and give you some time for arranging your schedule if you win an award. We hold the awards ceremony during BookExpo America [BEA] because so many of you already plan to be in New York at that time, but anyone who wins a medal is certainly welcome. [Have you ever been to BEA? It's the largest book exposition in the United States. HUGE! Everyone's there: the major publishers, the major celebrity authors, every sort of vendor. Indie publishers and trade organizations. People run screaming when celebs are sighted. It is a gigantic party with books. Went once. Still saving to afford it again.]

Below is the list of our judging criteria. Every book entered gets evaluated in each of these areas, and if they score well are assessed further and judged against the other top books in the category. Every year we have a handful of entrants complain that we “didn’t read the entire book,” and no, of course we don’t read every book all the way through. Our expert judges, most of whom have been evaluating books for 10-20 years, are skilled enough to critique a book fairly quickly and efficiently — and you probably can, too. All of us do a version of it every time we scan through a book at a bookstore or library when deciding if we’re going to buy it or borrow it.

IPPY AWARD GOLD MEDAL won by my book The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy


First Impression – Front, back and inside – would you pull it from the bookstore or library shelf?

Design – Cover design, typeface, message, front & back – does the cover make you want to look inside?

Interior layout, typeface, illustrations – is it easy to read; is it a pleasure to look at?

Originality – Is it a fresh approach?  Has it been done too much?

Use of language – Grammar, style, voice – does it flow? Does it make you want to keep reading?

Message delivery – Is the message promised by the cover being delivered, and in a compelling way?

Relevance – Is the book pertinent to our time?  Is this a message that should be heard?

What do the winners receive? All IPPY Award medalists will receive a medal, a certificate, and 20 awards seals. Those medalists not attending the New York event will receive the above items by mail, in a packet including the event program, press release, etc.  Preview IPPY Awards seals, medals and other merchandise.

IPPY AWARD SILVER MEDAL won my Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money


My books have won twenty-four national awards. I’ve won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the IPPYs, which are the biggest and oldest contest for independent presses. One of my books has also been a Finalist in the Benjamin Franklin Award, sponsored by the IBPA. This award is perhaps more prestigious than the IPPY Award. And I’ve won two Silver Nautilus Awards and a bunch of winner and finalist medals in smaller contests.

Am I bragging? No. My stomach is dancing around like a bowl of Jello-O doing the marimba. Because you have won once, does not mean you will win again, even if the book you enter is better than the one that won. Sorry campers. You don’t know who else is entered in the contest or what the judges want.

A real problem for those who have won is the feeling of entitlement: “I won last year. My books are really good.” And then you start picking spots in the house where you’re going to hang your medal.

In psychological terms, this is known as “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin.” You’re setting yourself up for a good whack on the backside (or ego) if you don’t win.

Winning before doesn’t mean you won’t win. The entry process is like waiting for a baby, except that is more certain. You know you’ll get a baby, barring disaster, but you don’t know if it will be a beauty or look like a troll. With book awards, you don’t know nothin.’

I wrote some articles about winning book contests, since I’ve done it a lot. It’s not as horrible as the articles indicate. I entered two contests with two new books this year. Whereas a publicity packet used to be required, the two contests I entered didn’t want one any more. That makes the entry process WAY easier and less expensive. Here are a few of my contest related  articles:

WHAT YOU CAN WIN BY LOSING: This happened to me.

HOW TO WIN A BOOK CONTEST: It’s not this bad any more, because they don’t require press packets any more. But if you want to really know how to win a contest, here it is.

IPPY AWARD BRONZE MEDAL won by Stepping Off the Edge

Questions about the IPPY awards? Contact Jim Barnes, Awards Director
ph: 1-800-644-0133 x1011




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I Survived Amazon’s KDP Free Day Program and Am Even Doing It Again

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

When I wrote my last post on Your Shelf Life, I was preparing to launch my first “free day” campaign with Amazon’s KDP program. Since my track record on such promotions has been miserable (check out this article in which I explain how my Amazon bestseller day yielded sales of thirteen books), I was concerned about how the days would go.

I wasn’t worried about the book, my The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy,  a sci-fi thriller with a dystopian, though romantic, twist. The Angel won four national awards, including a Gold Medal at the IPPYs, and has stellar reviews. The Angel wasn’t the problem, my ability to get it in front of people was.

I leaned on my friend Cheryl Kaye Tardif’s eBook How I Made Over $42,000 in One Month Selling my Kindle eBooks (known at $42K hereafter). Making $42K in a month is good enough for me. This is a really good guidebook outlining what Cheryl did to make a small fortune doing exactly what I’m going to be doing. It’s all there, step by step.

The major, major leaning I gleaned from $42K, is that while Cheryl is a marketing whiz and really loves doing it, I am not. I am a writer. I love to write and produce highly imaginative fantasy, sci-fi, visionary fiction, and even nonfiction about horses and spirituality. I’m not a marketer.

What happened when I applied Cheryl’s techniques in $42K to my ineptitude?

Holy macaroni! The Angel SOARED. Let’s see if I can find some screen shots. (Always take screen shots. My book Numenon once was #1 in 3 categories of mysticism and flew at about the 1,000 in paid sales level on Amazon for, oh, a year or so. I didn’t realize that this was good. Didn’t think it would ever change, either. I didn’t take any screen shots. Now all I have is a memory.)

Here we go. I began the promotion with many trepidations, vastly lowered expectations, and a promise of hari kari if I did not achieve my goal number of downloads, which was three (3). Yes, I promised publicly to off myself if  The Angel did not have three (3) downloads.

I felt pretty safe. I was actually safe by about 470%. How did it go? Here is a pictorial story. Click each image to enlarge it so you can read the tables:


I told you I wasn’t a marketing whiz. This, for a book with four national awards and a 4.6 star rating on 22 awards. A book about which bona fide reviewers said things like:  “5 Stars! Blends the paranormal, science fiction, and Armageddon styles well for a riveting read.  Midwest Book Review” We won’t get into that.


Things are moving. By 7:29 AM its first free day,  The Angel has climbed to the 4,573 level and is #80 in Science Fiction > Adventure. (They don’t say Free here, but they do later.)


Oh happy day, and getting happier! #199 in the overall free store and # 1 Sci-fi > Adventure Free.


Here The Angel is, flying high next to Ol’ George R.R. Martin. Only difference is, he got paid.


I took out one ad for my “day,” for David Wisehart’s Isn’t this a pretty presentation? David was kind enough to name The Angel Book of the Day, so it was beautifully featured. I wish space permitted me showing everything the ad contained. Synopsis, reviews, a letter from my mom. It was great.

* * *

What happened after the free promotion? I did not make $42K on my books. Sales of The Angel have stayed pretty high, certainly way higher than the book’s original sucky 388,885 ranking. Sales of Lady Grace, The Angel’s sequel have increased.

Basically, you gotta keep pushing. At least I’m off the chewing-gum-mottled basement floor in sales. I noticed something funny on a Tweet Team I’m on. Cheryl Tardif was tweeting her books WHILE SHE WAS ON VACATION. That’s how dedicated you’ve got to be to rake in the big bucks.

I haven’t pushed The Angel since the big free days, because I’ve been tooling up for my NEXT free days.

Lady Grace: Sequel to The Angel and one enthralling book.

YES! You will be able to download The Angel’s sequel, Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love, FREE! FREE! FREE! on August 5th and 6th, this very upcoming Sunday and Monday. I really think you should download it, because August 7th is my birthday and it would make me very happy. Downloading her book is a good way to say Happy Birthday to an author. In this case, you’ll get really terrific book for nothing. (Alternatively, you can wait until my birthday on August 7th, when the book won’t be free. That would make me even happier. But suit yourself.)

Lady Grace is better than The Angel. It’s the kind of book that causes top reviewers to say things like:

Lady Grace was first-rate science fiction and one of the most absorbing page-turners of that genre that I’ve read in years. Author Sandy Nathan exhibits the imagination of Ray Bradbury combined with the whimsicalness of Douglas Adams. That’s high praise, but it’s warranted. The story includes so much action; tense, suspenseful drama; and two charming love stories that it’s irresistible.” J. Chambers, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer (#46 at this writing)

Two weeks ago, I gave away an Angel. This week, I’m giving away Grace.  The mystical kind of grace is the bestowal of unmerited favor. That grace is free all the time.

The Grace I’m talking about is a Lady.  She’s irresistible. And will be free August 5 & 6!

Sandy Nathan

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan is the winner of twenty-two national awards for her writing. She’s won in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link to the left for more information on each book. All links below go to Kindle sale pages.)
Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground (paperback & Kindle available)
Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love (paperback & Kindle available)
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

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money “Bill Gates Meets Don Juan”

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money came out in 2008. (Good heavens, has time passed that quickly?) It won six national awards, including the prestigious Silver Nautilus and a Silver Medal in the IPPY Awards. It’s got an almost 5 star review rating on Amazon. Numenon was the number 1 book in all the categories of Mysticism on Amazon and way up there in Kindle sales for about a year. That’s pretty cool.

I want to thank my readers and reviewers and the contest judges for honoring my book by reading and valuing it.

So what’s Numenon about, Sandy? Uh. “It’s about the richest man in the world meeting a great Native American shaman.” That was the response I gave for a long time. It’s true. That is what the book is about. It’s about much more, too. I found this press release from when Numenon was released:

What can readers expect from Numenon?

Numenon is a book that can be read on many levels. First, it’s an suspense/thriller. A reader can get caught up in the story and the interplay of characters and forces. A reader can be enthralled wondering what on earth will happen next. Reading Numenon on this level is just fine.

Numenon can be more than that. It’s a philosophical adventure, starting with its name. The famous philosopher Immanuel Kant defined the noumenon (or numenon) in the 1700s. It means “the thing-in-itself,” pure being as opposed to the world perceived through the senses.

In writing Numenon, I hoped to carry readers to that essential world, the world of absolute reality where mystics live. The glowing foundation of existence.

To get to the deepest heart, one must start where he or she is. That’s what Numenon does. Many of the characters are definite “befores”––they’re powerful, ruthless, unprincipled, and not very nice. We walk with them on a journey toward becoming the people they really are, and we do it in the company of one of the greatest shamans ever to walk the earth.

Numenon is a spiritual and psychological trip from here to there, from where we are to where want to be. To our dearest and truest selves.  The numenon.

I hope you enjoy the trip. I’ve had a blast writing it for you. Please be aware that this book has a bite. It’s not a pretty story about nice people. It’s about flawed people about to have their flaws shaken out. It’s got violence, some sexual situations, and language. I’d give it an R rating.

Is Numenon a gripping page turner, a  thriller pitting the highest levels of American capitalism against ancient shamanic power?

Or is it a philosophic investigation into the reality of the mystics, the reality beyond and beneath our everyday lives?

Will it take you to your core, the real you you’ve always wanted to be?

Read it and find out.

Sandy Nathan

PS. Numenon’s sequel, Mogollon, is written and has been written for a long time. It needs to be shortened from a 1,400 page monster into something that people can lift. That is on my schedule––as I’ve been saying for years, I know. Thank you for your patience, readers.

My rewrite project got stalled when I was bowled over by a little sci-fi/fantasy/visionary fiction series that grabbed my brain and would not let it go. The series is called Tales from Earth’s End.

The first book of the series, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy is available now. The Angel is the story of a sixteen year old tech genius and an angelic extraterrestrial charged with saving two planets. The book has already won a Gold Medal in the 2011 IPPYs in Visionary Fiction and won the 2011 Visionary Fiction Category in the Indie Excellence Awards. It has almost 5 star reviews on Amazon and a 5 star overall rating from Red Adept Reviews. All for 99 cents as a Kindle. Such a deal. (Numenon and my other books are 99 cents as Kindles, too.)

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy will give you something to look forward to while I prepare Numenon’s sequel. It’s everything you hoped it would be and more. What’s the more? Characters from Numenon & Mogollon appear in the second book of Tales from Earth’s End., Lady Grace! The series do not merge, but they touch! And create fireworks!

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