Category: Writing Tips & Life Lessons

Stepping off the Edge: A Roadmap for the Soul – Coming at you!

Are you ready to step off the edge?

Stepping off the Edge: A Roadmap for the Soul  is the new edition of my spiritual classic. Why should you be interested in Stepping off the Edge? Do you have an on-line addiction that is threatening your job, relationship, and sanity? Do you feel that you don’t know who you really are–in the big sense of  what you’re doing on the planet and in the little sense of why am I here? In Podunkwalla USA? In this skin and particular life? Have you lost something important–a spouse or kids or everything you owned? Is life a pain, or even worse, dull as sawdust? Would you like to go somewhere where you could learn something worth learning with people worth knowing?

I have just outlined what’s in my book and why it’s for you. Stepping off the Edge is a roadmap for navigating the hardest, most important journey you’ll ever make: your life. I wrote Stepping because I wanted to share what I did that facilitated my life working out. The book is a memoir, a very personal series of stories and vignettes that illustrate spiritual principles. It’s not a text book, though it does contain theoretical material. It’s not a how to book, but it does contain exercises you can use to apply concepts. Above all, it’s not a 1, 2, 3 guide to how to be spiritual. I don’t sit you down and teach you how to meditate or pray. (Some things, a person has to figure out for herself.)

My life has worked out and that’s my primary credential in writing this book. I’m sixty eight years old and an happy! That may be the most important thing. I’m happy, content, and in love with my husband of forty years. I love my work–writing for you–and live a beautiful California horse ranch surrounded by animals and people I love.

LINDENWOOD-GATES

These are the gates to the estate on which my family lived. We didn't own the whole thing, it had been subdivided years before. We had an acre of paradise.

My life wasn’t always like that. When I was eighteen, my father was brutally slain by a drunk driver. At that time, I had a charmed existence. My parents owned the tenth largest residential construction company in the USA. We lived in what is now the third most affluent town in the country. I showed horses and water skied on weekends.

Within months of my father’s death, I lived in a tiny apartment at below poverty income. I won’t talk about how that happened, but it did. My brain still thought I was upper class, Why aren’t you doing more charity work, Sandy?

I was seriously depressed for a decade after my father’s death. I didn’t know it and it didn’t slow my down; I earned two master’s degrees and part of a PhD. I was the Santa Clara County economic analyst. Big titles, big jobs, while my soul labored to keep me moving and darkness drifted just out of sight.

Angst

Darkness nipped at me

A huge breakthrough occurred when I attended one of the giant enlightenment seminars during the 1970s. One of the participants wore a blanket around her hunch shoulders. She shuddered and cried the entire weekend, a living plea for help. The seminar leader gave it to her, stripping her to her truth. He showed her and everyone else that she was identified with physical illness and in love with the attention she got as a sick person. He also helped her expose what her sick act had cost her: a husband had walked out on her; she’d lost her kids. She got it, at least then.

Some people really have sickness down. They may be "sick" all their lives, eighty five years or so

Some people really have sickness down. They may be "sick" all their lives, oh, eighty five years or so.

Someone in my life was like that. I had assumed that her “sick act” was as immutable as the fabric of the universe. A Mount Rushmore of the soul. I was also forbidden to feel/express any resentment or be anything but kind and empathetic. The seminar leader showed me that the woman’s behavior was an act, an unconscious but very powerful role that had taken over her life.  As an act and not the real her, it could be changed. I saw. Even if that person who was impacting me so much couldn’t change, I could. 

How did I get from that moment to now? It’s all in Stepping off the Edge Took thirty-nine years. I did everything from getting an MA in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling to spending thirty years with a meditation school based in India, to coaching negotiations at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, to working on myself every way I could.  Stepping contains the fruit of my spiritual pilgrimage.

I’m pulling out the stops in getting the word out about Stepping. You can buy it as a paperback and as an eBook very soon. I’m puttin’ the message out in other ways, via Facebook albums and Pinterest boards and who knows what else I’ll think of. These new social media offer terrific ways of sharing content and giving readers a very clear look at what a book is about. Like this:

Bliss accompanies spirit. If you're thinking about studying with someone don't feel blissful around him or her, you're in the wrong place.

My intent is to get  your attention. What Stepping is about is very important: you and who you really are. Want another teaching aide? Check this out. I’m having a bunch of these “Maxim Cards” made up on key points from Stepping. The three presented here deal with the basic issue: What is spirituality? What is spiritual? I’ve got cards made up in nine other areas, ranging from What is your true identity? To How to establish a personal spiritual practice? All the way to Spiritual traps and dealing with evil.

I like things presented so everyone can understand them. Take a living person. Then look at a dead one. The difference is spirit. No spirit, no life.

One of the things about being an older person is you know you don’t have forever to do whatever you came to this earth to do. That’s one reason I’m putting the new version of Stepping off the Edge. It’s behind my push to get these materials to you. They’re beautiful, impactful teaching aides giving you jewels of spiritual exploration. What do they cost? Nothing, at the moment. I am discussing selling them with a retailer. So, download while you can. Contemplate and apply always.

How to you fully experience your spiritual nature? Contemplation–attention fixed on an object–is a very good start.

Want more than pictures? How about music, color and movement? A video! Let this run through once to buffer. It’s HD so you can watch it full screen. Enjoy!

 

Here’s where you find these Maxims from Stepping off the Edge: A Roadmap for the Soul:

Sandy Nathan/Vilasa Press on Facebook, my professional page:   My albums from Vilasa Press. All the Maxims are in there. Please “Like” my page!

Sandy Nathan/Author on Facebook, my personal page:   My albums. Lots of them. You can look through the ones on Stepping and all the rest. If we aren’t FB friends, send me a Friend request and I’ll Friend you.

My Pinterest boards are here. The Maxims have boards of their own and you’ll find lots of other interesting stuff. Feel free to borrow and repin.

All the best,   [I'm not quite sure what the Facebook badge below does. May take you somewhere where you can get to the Maxims faster. Below the badge is some info about Stepping off the Edge. What it's won in contests and so on.]

Sandy Nathan

Promote Your Page Too

The text of the second edition of Stepping isn’t much different that the first edition. I didn’t change the book very much for a bunch of reasons. Reading it again told me that nothing has changed; in fact, spiritual life has gotten much worse for many people in the last. More on-line addiction, more seeking and striving and killing one’s dear self to attain success as a commercial writer, more of everything I talked about back in 2007 when the first Stepping came out. What’s to change?

Also, not many people read or even heard of Stepping off the Edge, even though it won the most prestigious awards of my multi-award winning books. When the first Stepping was pubished, it won:

  • 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist in New Age (Spirituality/Metaphysics)
  • Bronze Medal Winner in Self Help, 2007 IPPY (Independent Press) Awards
  • National Indie Excellence Awards 2007: Finalist in THREE Categories: Autobiography/Memoir, New Age Non-Fiction & Spirituality.
  • Best Books of 2007, USA Book News, Finalist in Autobiography/Memoir

The Benjamin Franklin Awards and IPPY Awards are probably the most prestigious, largest, and oldest contests for independently produced books. This was my first book and I didn’t realize what a big deal those wins were. Now I do.

For more about the original Stepping off the Edge, check out my website.

 

About Stepping Off the Edge–A Roadmap for the Soul

Stepping Off the Edge

Last Tuesday, Native American model and actor Rick Mora and Rev. May Leilani Schmidt were on Leilani’s radio show, Universal Spiritual Connection. I called in and chatted for a minute. We discussed spirituality and other topics. Out of that, Leilani scheduled her shown on Tuesday, June 24th 2014, as a three way discussion between Rick, herself and me, Sandy Nathan.

We’re going to talk about spirituality and our personal backgrounds: how did our lives influence the way we are? How did experience shape us? [June 24th is a highly auspicious day: my dad's birthday and that of my meditation master. What magic will play?]

I thought, We’ll be talking about spirituality. I wonder if people would be interested in my book  Stepping off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice? That’s really about spirituality. Stepping was published in 2006. For my first book, I wanted to write something significant. Something that really mattered. I wanted to help people. I also wanted to tell my story.

And thus, Stepping off the Edge was born. It’s the first and only book in the memoir/self-help/New Age/spiritual/religious/applied psychology genre. It’s good, too. The darn thing won six national awards out of the starting gate.

Rendered me speechless, which is hard to do.

Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist - I've got bunch more stickers like this. I'll spare you a show and tell.

 

  • 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist in New Age (Spirituality/Metaphysics) The Benjamin Franklin Award is one of the largest and most prestigious awards for independent presses.
  • Bronze Medal Winner in Self Help, 2007 IPPY (Independent Publisher) Awards The IPPY Award contest is the largest and oldest for indie presses.
  • National Indie Excellence Awards 2007: Finalist in THREE Categories: Autobiography/Memoir, New Age Non-Fiction & Spirituality.
  • Best Books of 2007, USA Book News, Finalist in Autobiography/Memoir

 

After its triumphant birth, Stepping off the Edge was eclipsed by my passion for writing fiction. It’s moldered on the Amazon site since, inexplicably rising to bestseller status in Applied Psychology every once in a while. I have no idea why; I’ve never promoted it.

Is now the time for Stepping to shine? I have no idea, but  two designers are working on new a cover and interior. It’s well on it’s way to a triumphant return as Stepping off the Edge: A Roadmap for the Soul. Will the new book emerge before the June 24th show? Beats me. I’m working on it.

Here’s the new Author’s Note which will go in the new book. There’s some repetition from the above, but folks most likely won’t have read this blog post:

ANOTHER NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
Sandy Nathan 5/18/2014

The original Stepping off the Edge bears a 2006 copyright. It was my first book. I thought I should start my career with something meaningful. I wanted to create a work that was  deep and significant, expressing eternal truths. I wanted readers to see who I was and remember that when they read my future works. Stepping did that and much more: the darn thing won six national awards, quite a surprise for a first time author.

The 2014 version of Stepping off the Edge is very similar to the 2006 one. The thing about eternal truths is that they’re eternal. Reviewing the manuscript showed me that while my personal issues are different today, probably more people are struggling with the material in the original Stepping than when I wrote it.

The nasty eBay addiction I studied meticulously in the first Stepping is tamed, but millions more people have discovered the joy of spending 90% of their time in front of a computer screen, grabbing at shiny trinkets. They’re/we’re like rats in some experiment, trying to reach nirvana one pellet of food at a time. Call it gaming, participating in social media, book marketing, personal branding, or plain ol’ eBay addiction, the possibilities for destroying the meaning of your life on-line have multiplied over the years. You can still apply what I say in Stepping to dig yourself out of your hole.

Same with writing. Much of the first Stepping is about my struggle to see my work in print. I go on and on about achieving my dream of becoming a famous author, making millions, and eventually dominating the world. No. Wait—that’s what they do in gaming.

Today, millions more share my literary agony. I know: they’re self-pubbing like crazy, flooding the market with books that compete with mine. No need to change the bits in the old Stepping that concerned the Author’s Path.

Stepping off the Edge is awash with Native Americans. Its design has a Native theme and chapters and chapters take place at a spiritual retreat held by this country’s First People. Bill Miller (Mohican/German), my all time favorite musician, artist, and speaker, was the spiritual leader of that retreat. He gifted me with an interview and testimonial.

Want to know why a San Francisco-born, Silicon Valley-raised woman is so obsessed with Native Americans? I’d suggest reading my bio, which is somewhere in this book. It talks about my fall from American royalty into the desperate condition of being a regular person. Recovering from that fall has formed most of my life and turned me into a writer. I wrote this book and then a few dozen other books and manuscripts from my angst.

I dubbed my first fiction series the Bloodsong Series. Why? It’s written in my blood. After I’d drafted a few thousand pages of the Bloodsong books, I had this giant Ahah!

At least half of the characters were Native Americans. Why? I lived on the San Francisco peninsula. I don’t think I’d ever seen an Indian.

I realized that I had lived the lite version of what happened to Native Americans. They had the kingdom the entire continent and lost it. I know how that feels. They were treated abominably for centuries, and had the worst abuse hurled at them. Then they were asked, “What’s the matter with you? Why aren’t you doing better, you lazy bums?” I know all about that, too.

One more thing: I do not sit you down in this book and teach you how to meditate, pray, or figure out what’s sacred to you and what you should do with your life. Some things you have to do for yourself. This book is a roadmap containing everything that actually helped me heal and move forward. Some of it is from my years in school, while other portions may be highly personal spiritual experiences. That’s what I offer you. You have to apply your mind and heart to what’s in this book and transform it to fit your circumstances.

Having set the stage, here’s the Author’s Note to the original Stepping of the Edge. It’s as valid now as it was on the first go round.

 * * *

I want this book to touch you and heal you. I’d like my writing to open your heart so that the love inside flows out and transforms your life. I want my words to make you laugh and cry and feel and become the person you were meant to be. I want to move so many people that the world of hopes and prayers becomes real and we live together in paradise.

Negotiation coaches tell you to set your aspirations high. That way, you’ll have a better chance of achieving them, or at least you’ll get closer than you thought you could. My goals are set out above: You can tell me if I attain them when you’ve read this book. Right now, I want to tell you about it.

At first, I wanted to write a book about a Native American spiritual retreat called the Gathering. As I wrote, I realized that what I was writing about was bigger. I was writing not just about a particular retreat or spiritual activity, but also about how we can become mature, spiritual beings.  What must we humans do to grow up?

If that is too big a question, how did I grow up? I’ve grown up over thirty years of spiritual seeking. I can tap into my inner well of bliss. I’ve got a great life. My husband and I have been together for forty years and are still in love. My family’s wonderful. And I still experience my old crud now and again, but that’s not the norm.

How did I achieve this?

By what I do and how I live. Spiritual practice made me the woman I am. So I wrote a book about spiritual practice. This is a real “show me, don’t tell me” volume, because you don’t learn spiritual practice from reading a book. A book can tell you about spiritual practice, but doesn’t give you its fruit. Trying to learn spiritual practice from a book is like trying to train a dog without having one. Spiritual practice is alive and requires a living body committed to learning. Given this, I used my favorite demonstration tools, my soul, body and life, to illustrate the road to spiritual maturity. (A few of my friends chip in their stories, as you’ll see.)

This book is a trip. I cover the bases of prayer, meditation, worship, spiritual retreat, dedication of one’s life to experiencing the divine, taming the mind … I write about many things, using stories and examples that anyone can comprehend. I hate books that are so highfaluting that the average person can’t understand them. Life is hard enough without me making it worse with intellectual pretension.

I suggest that we get going. Who knows how much time we have for our journey? None of us will come out of this earthly voyage alive: We’d better start now.

Sandy Nathan
My website
My new interactive website
My Facebook author page (Please like!)
My Amazon author page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

BEST OF LUCK TO ALL!

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

HOW THEY JUDGE BOOKS:

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

ABOUT ENTERING AND WINNING BOOK CONTESTS:

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
jimb@bookpublishing.com
ph: 1-800-644-0133 x1011

 

GOOD LUCK, ALL!

SANDY NATHAN

My website.
My new, killer INTERACTIVE website.
Me on Facebook

 

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