Posts tagged: Buck’s of Woodside


Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money - This is NOT Mogollon's new cover. The it's being designed.

HURRAY! HURRAY! Mogollon is done. (Though see the note below about its release date.) I started the Bloodsong Series, of which Mogollon is book two, in 1995. Eighteen years have gone by since a spectacular spiritual experience launched a series of books that have owned me since. What happened?

Some really bad things happened to me long ago. Mercifully, I did not remember them. Until I did. That was 1993. After working harder than I knew I could to recover, I finally felt well enough to attend a meditation retreat in 1995. I’d been meditating twenty years at that point.

I worked as hard as I could in the retreat, following the 4 AM to 10 PM daily schedule, going to classes, doing spiritual practices. Praying. And contacting one of the people involved in the “really bad things.” I’d never been brave enough before.

When I got home, I felt fantastic. Totally healed, sparkling new. All trauma gone. That was nice, but the real perk of the adventure had yet to occur. A couple of days after I got home, I was in the shower (showers are intensely spiritual places) when something like a lightning bolt hit me in the right temple and entered my skull, ricocheted around inside, and left a trail of blue sparkles and mist that Hollywood special effects guys could not replicate. Then it left. Total elapsed time? A few seconds.

“Whoa,” thought I, “that’s never happened before.” The fireworks were not the whole package. The spiritual zap from Somewhere also left a book behind. Its plot was right there in my mind as the blue mist disappeared. I ran down to the computer and banged it out. “What do you think of this?” I showed the pages to my husband.

“It’s good, but it seems like a comic book. Make it longer.”

Two hundred and seventy five pages later, I knew I had a book. Pages more than that, I realized it was a series.What is it about? Bloodsong starts out with the adventures of the richest man in the world, Will Duane, meeting a great Native American shaman at the shaman’s retreat in New Mexico. Numenon and Mogollon are set in this part of the series. But, after the retreat, the corporate gang goes home to Silicon Valley and the Numenon Corporate headquarters in Palo Alto. All sorts of characters, from witches to rogue corporate execs to budding shamans, come up in locations all over the world. It’s a wild, highly imaginative series.

That’s how the Bloodsong Series was born. It keeps growing. I counted ten titles in my Bloodsong file on my computer. These are either written as drafts or soon to be released, like Mogollon.

All were born of that meditation retreat and moment  in the shower where Something sent me a message of hope and love. And power, violence, pain, redemption, and a bunch of amazing characters.

My writing can be very gritty. With the exception of work written for children, all of my writing should be R rated. It’s not for kids. That’s the fruit of the “really bad things” mentioned above. If you’ve been marked in that way, going back to sweetsie and happy-ever-after is impossible.

I said up above that Mogollon was finished. Not quite. What’s finished is my line by line response to my editor’s terse comments, “This sucks.” No, she doesn’t say that. She speaks a different language: “Too much head-hopping here.”

I’ve finished addressing my editor’s myriad concerns and have a manuscript version Mogollon that’s ready to hand off to other professionals. I’ll send it off  for copy-editing and proofreading. Then comes the design of the book, eBook, covers, the whole visual package. What’s finished is my mind-numbing involvement in the book’s every line. The hard part.

Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem, Bloodsong Series 2, will be released in early 2014.

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money - This IS the existing Numenon cover. Enjoy it while you can: the new one will be different.

So will Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money, Bloodsong Series 1. What! Book 1 of the series will be released at the same time as book 2? Yep. We’re doing a slash and burn of Numo.

Numenon was released in 2009; it’s four years old. It was also the first book I wrote. My writing has improved exponentially since 2009. We’re giving the book a full makeover. Once that’s done, the book will be redesigned and ready for a double launch with Mogollon.

Why am I doing this? Well, Numenon is dear to my heart. It flowed directly from that mystical experience back in 1995. If you look at Numenon’s reviews, you will see that by far the majority of readers LOVED it just as is it stands. They said things like:

“The new release `Numenon‘ by Sandy Nathan is one of the most superbly developed, intensely riveting and profoundly moving works of fiction I’ve read in quite a long time. The author’s attention to detail, in-depth character development and cohesive, constantly evolving storyline will keep the reader transfixed from beginning to end.”
Brian E. Erland, Hall of Fame Reviewer

You can read the negative reviews for yourself. Suffice it to say, they blistered my hide.

If I can fix something, I will. I’m going to attempt an update that will satisfy people like Mr. Erland and the folks who thought I should boiled in oil along with my book.

Reviews are very interesting, particularly if you have a background in psychology. I hold an MA in marriage, family and child counseling. The depth psychologies claimed my heart––these are the areas of study which treat the deeper more primal parts of the psyche, archetypes, the essential areas of the soul, especially mystical experience. My interest lies with the work of Jung, Psychosynthesis, and the transpersonal psychologies.

I found Numenon’s reviews a textbook illustration of Jungian typology. Carl Jung, a giant of modern psychology, came up with his typology trying to reconcile personality differences between his friends and colleagues, Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. Both were brilliant men and giants in the development of modern psychology. Here’s an article I wrote about Jungian Type for writers. The theory is complex, but what Jung says is: People are different. They live in literally different worlds; they don’t see the same thing, even when in the same room.

Which is why Numenon’s reviews vary so much and people reporting honestly on their experiences can come to such different conclusions.

* * *

I  am an intuitive in Jung’s typology. Intuitives live in a realm beyond the physical, picking up on currents that others don’t see. We have a vision of what direction the world will take. Intuitives are intensely interested in their internal growth and that of everyone else. They’re interested in people and their stories. They’re very interested in their vision becoming a reality.

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money could only have been written by an intuitive. And intuitives are the ones that “get” what I was writing and the way I did it.

* * *

Modern novels have become very fast, like screenplays, where all the action takes place on the page, and that’s all you get. You lose a lot that way, but fast action-filled writing does satisfy certain types.

I’m going to rewrite Numenon so that it retains its spirituality and moves faster with more action for the modern sort of reader. Without wrecking it.

If you read my work, please realize this:

I AM NOT A THRILLER WRITER! I AM NOT A SCI-FI OR FANTASY WRITER! AND I AM!  If you want breakneck speed, chills, battles between good and evil, monsters and bugs running around blowing things up, and the end of the world–I’ve got them all in the Earth’s End series and my newer work.




Sandy Nathan and Tecolote


Sandy Nathan

Sandy’s Amazon Author Page. Click here of on image.

Sandy’s Web Site


Amazon Bestseller Day Giant Mailing Lists Are All that Matter––It’s a Numbers Game! Part 6

Sandy Nathan, Award winning author of Numenon

Sandy Nathan, Award winning author of Numenon

“Mom, you’re scaring me,” my daughter said as I snapped at her. I was working on my “Amazon Party” round the clock.

Her words moved me, but didn’t slow me down. I was out of control, in hyper drive with no turning back. As the only one in the family who understood everything that had to be done before December 9th, my Amazon Party Day, I was in the hot seat. I WOULD get it all done. I’d DIE before I’d let something I’d committed to be a failure.

I’d finally grasped the truth: The only way for my Bestseller Day to succeed was for me to get the invitation in front of as many people as I could. Most people wouldn’t even look at it; I had to hook the 1% who’d open the emailed invitation into buying. That meant enlisting sponsors with huge mailing lists––40,000 and more––to join me and send out invitations to my Party. I looked around my world frantically, thinking of whom I could enlist.

Something else dawned on me: The easiest new customers are the ones I already had. I needed to tap into my own web presence and make my regular readers know what was happening.

I got into writing for the web in 1998, eons ago in web time. Our first website was for our horse ranch, Rancho Vilasa. We hired a young computer consultant to help us put it up. He taught me the fundamentals of Dreamweaver, that wonderful web page composition tool. I started Spurs Magazine, my ‘zine dedicated to almost everything, and was off. Now I run a family of more than 50 URLs, domains, all hosted from my beloved Dreamhost.

I got just under 29,000 requests for pages (which is the relevant measure of “hits”) in January 2009, and about 251,000 in 2008, from my four blogs and collections of web sites and ‘zines. When I began writing on the web, I had no plan. I wrote about what I was interested in. Apparently others were interested in the same stuff. Here are a few of my ‘zines:

SPURS MAGAZINE: I woke up one morning, looked at the news and said, “This is not OK with me.” Spurs Magazine is my answer. Has it helped? Judge for yourself. Does the world look better?
RANCHO VILASA Our horse ranch. Beautiful horse photos and info.
LITTLE INDIA IN ARTESIA CA Spotlights the second largest ethnic Indian community in the US. This article Googles #1.
YES, GOOD DOG About positive dog training, which we learned about when I adopted three INSANE little dogs when my daughters left home, leaving me with empty nest syndrome.
EQUINES & HEARTSTRINGS A ‘zine devoted to horses and humane horse training. Beautiful pictures and great stories.
AN ODE TO EBAY: Everything you wanted to know about eBay, including how addictive it is. The story of my recovery is in my book, Stepping Off the Edge.
LIVING SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Your life is your spiritual path, it really is.
And the obvious:

Each of those has multiple pages, and may attach to other ‘zines. Check ‘em out. I guarantee good reading. Persuasive reading. We once had a man read my stuff about horses on the ‘net and come all the way from Australia to see them. He bought three. He said, “I got started reading your web site and couldn’t stop …”

I had to let my existing readers know what about my Amazon Bestseller Day. That meant updating HUNDREDS of web pages. It was HORRIBLE. I found pages that had offers that had expired years before, fixed pages that looked like a kindergartner had done them, and spent hours putting information about the Amazon Day on each page and then loaded them. And checked them once up. Did the links work?  Arhghhh!!!!!

Thank God for psychopathology. Prayer really helps, but when assisted by the OC of OCD, it’s dynamite.

“Mom, you’re scaring me.” I was scary, I have to admit it.

Time was really short. I spent 14 hours days at my computer, ignoring my swelling ankle. What were my doctor’s orders and my recovery from surgery when I had work to do? Not only did I have to update my web sites, I had to do the social networking thing. Everyone agrees that social networking is where it is. Where was I?

In days, I signed up for all the major social sites, put up profiles, copied my blog, and announced my Amazon Bestseller Day when I could figure out how to do it. Oh, yeah––I tried to establish  relationships on threads of conversations I haven’t found since.

“You need a way to capture your buyers’ email addresses when they download their prizes,” said Irene Watson of ReaderViews. That word “capture” is another one of those marketing buzzwords that tick me off. Are people prey, in addition to objects to be driven? But it had to be done. I’d had ConstantContact for years, too intimidated to try to get it going. I had to now, though it scared me to death.

Not only was my psychopathology flaming at this point, my spirituality was aroused, too. My book Stepping Off the Edge is about spiritual practice––yes, prayer, meditation, worship, giving to good causes, keeping a clean mind and blissful soul.  Stepping Off the Edge is about all the usual types of spiritual practice, in addition to the spiritual trials of today: eBay addiction, infatuation with rock stars, and facing evil as it appears in daily life.

Most of my life has been devoted to finding and cleaning up my soul. When I wrote Stepping, I had spent thirty some years in very active spiritual practice, some of it in ashrams, most at home. I had attended more than sixty meditation retreats, in addition to retreats of other denominations, including The Gathering, the Native American retreat where some of Stepping Off the Edge takes place.

Although I get sidetracked and miss the mark, my life is devoted spirituality and the cultivation of the spirit. I realized, as my family cruised by my permanent seat at the computer looking worried about me, that I was in a danger area. A “red light” area, in Weight Watcher’s parlance.

Compulsive achievement and ambition are my weaknesses. I come from Silicon Valley, what do you expect? I was squarely in the heart of my personal darkness.

I snagged some big names as sponsors. People with really large mailing lists. Famous people in the book and publicity trade. Lookin’ good.

The pages showing the gifts were up and looked gorgeous. And somehow, all the family members who’d seemed to desert me gathered round in the last few days. I got expert help figuring out Constant Contact. My daughter didn’t get my book video done, but she did mount an exquisite slide show of The Gathering, the spiritual retreat that inspired Stepping Off the Edge. Here it is!

The web page invitation was up and gorgeous. I was handling giving out the gifts to people who either didn’t have their own web sites or couldn’t get their web teams going to do the necessary pages. The web work needed to setup downloadable gifts was done.

I sent Irene Watson the information she needed to fill out the ReaderViews pages and invitation. Unfortunately, I got it in at 5PM California time rather than 8 AM her time, as she wanted. (She got up at 5 AM the next day to post my prizes.)

But I’d done it! On the eve of the event, I’d pulled together a miracle.

I wasn’t happy, mostly because I still had to assemble and update my own email list and write a sample email to all my sponsors for them to send with their emailed invitations.

As I worked into the night, something came to me. One of those glimmerings that we get when we’re in real trouble. I was reminded of something that happened years ago.

Back in the 1970s, I found myself a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. At that time, I thought education was the salvation of the world. If everyone just got educated enough, we’d stop killing each other and destroying the planet.

I thought that people with PhDs behind their names were God. Not like God, God. Being in a PhD program, I got up close and personal with a lot of PhDs. I saw many things that opened my eyes, pretty horrific mangling of other human beings by my educated idols. I learned that smart people, educated people, people with PhDs are just people. Some are beatific and wonderful; some are as toxic as the poisons we pour into our rivers and ourselves.

In those days, I viewed people as collections of achievements. It was like people were pieces of paper walking around, resumes. Collections of awards and trophies. I was scared stiff of them, seeing only lists of accomplishments.

I didn’t see my fellow human beings in all their depth and complexity, I saw lists. I walked away from that world and found one much more valuable. The world of flesh and blood, spirit and value. Love and family. I learned and got better.

How I Felt on the Eve of my Amazon Bestseller Day

How I Felt on the Eve of my Amazon Bestseller Day

As I prepared for my Amazon night, I realized that I’d reverted to that earlier Sandy. I saw people now, not as collections of academic and professional achievements, but as possessors of mailing lists.

I’d made a bad trade. I had settled for a cheaper goal.

That’s it,


Next time, we’ll look at what happened. How many books did I sell? How much did I make? How high did Stepping Off the Edge climb? How long did it stay there?

Would I do it again?

The photo above is the winner of an “It’s not my Job!” contest in Arizona. I felt like that opossum must have felt. And I had done my job.

Amazon Bestseller Day 1–Bestseller or Bust
Amazon Bestseller Day 2–Forget Your Own Marketing Ideas
Amazon Bestseller Day 3–Get Top Sponsors!
Amazon Bestseller Day 4–Recap of 1-3 + Do Your Homework
Amazon Bestseller Day 5–How Many Books Will You Sell/Dealing with Amazon
Amazon Bestseller Day 6–It’s a Numbers Game: Have a Giant Mailing List
Amazon Bestseller Day 7–Blow by Blow of THE DAY
Amazon Bestseller Day 8–Was it worth it? Post-game Recap

Amazon Bestseller Day How Many Books Is Enough? Part 5

Sandy Nathan, award-winning author of Numenon

Sandy Nathan, award-winning author of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could, Numenon & Stepping Off the Edge

“How many do you think we’ll sell?” my husband asked. We were slogging our way through an Amazon Bestseller Day campaign one crisis at a time. The latest concerned the supply of our book on Amazon.

If you are published by a major press, you can tell your publisher what you’re doing and they’ll handle this part for you. (I guess–-don’t really know. Any of you readers published by the majors and a veteran of an Amazon Day? Let me know.)

Some of the POD publishers tied directly to Amazon will just churn out the number of books you need, as they are sold. No sweat on your end––just promote your book like crazy and don’t worry about Amazon’s supply.

But if you are the classic small press, creating and printing your books, finding distribution for them, managing warehouses, invoices, outvoices, screaming voices and hearing voices, like we do, getting your books to Amazon is more problematic.

First off, you don’t call up your Amazon rep and say, “I’m having this event––can we send over a few hundred (or thousand) books to you?”

You have no rep on Amazon. You may be able to find a contact email on your Amazon Advantage page. Or not. It’s there somewhere. [2011 update: I think they may have made it easier to contact them now. I don't know about getting a response, but easier to contact.]

“How many do you think we’ll sell?” my husband asked again, laptop open. He’d found some relevant information on the Amazon site. “Because if we don’t sell them, Amazon will ship them back to our warehouse at our expense.” Big problem.

Let’s do numbers. If you have an Amazon Advantage account, that means you sell your books to Amazon at a 55% discount. My book, Stepping Off the Edge, has an $18.95 retail price. A 55% discount means that we get 45% of the retail price per book sold, or $8.53 per book.

That sounds pretty good––except that that $8.53 has to cover all the costs of writing or acquiring the book; writing copy for the cover, press releases, and ads; designing the book’s cover and interior; printing it; shipping books from the printer to the warehouse; warehousing; shipping books to Amazon from the warehouse; advertising; publicity; and the bazillion more costs of running a small press, including stamps and your stationery. Oh, yeah, also include the cost of designing the pretty logo you had made for your company. AND the cost of creating and maintaining your web site. Plus electricity, your office––you know, everything . . .

$8.53 a book won’t provide enough profit to feed your cat. That’s why you’re doing the Amazon Day. (And you really need the IBPA–Independent Book Publisher’s Association, the largest trade organization for small presses. Go there and join!)

Not only is the publisher’s profit per book minimal, Amazon has warehouses all over the country. If your warehouse is in the Midwest and you get a sale in Alaska, Amazon will fulfill it from their closest warehouse. Your Midwest warehouse will get an order for one book to be shipped to their closest-to-Alaska center at your expense. There goes any possibility of profit.

(One thing you can do if you’re persistent and resourceful is petition Amazon to order a box of books, 22 or so, or even more, at once and let Amazon ship them around internally. Shipping costs of that quantity of books can be covered by sales. But they tell you if you can do this––when they want to.)

“They’ll ship whatever we don’t sell back at our cost.” That hung us up. How many would we sell?

I emailed Irene Watson at ReaderViews and got a range of the number of books sold from other Amazon Launches she’d run. It was a huge range which yielded nothing in terms of what we’d sell. Okay? Did we do a “The Secret thing” and visualize a big success? Do affirmations? Or did we go pessimistic?

Or did we acknowledge reality? I thought, “Sandy, you were an economist for years and years. There’s no way to predict what you’ll sell.”

We stalled there. “Let’s think about this and get back to it later.”

Good idea. We still had a couple of weeks  until the Big Day. Maybe it would come clear.

Did I tell you you can’t contact Amazon and tell them to order your books? You have to get a purchase order from them, ALLOWING YOU to send books, and telling you how many you can send.

How do you do that? Uh. You find that magic email contact on the Amazon site, request a case number, and they get back to you.


WINNING IS EASY WHEN YOU KNOW THE DRILL! Barry Nathan & Capoeira BSN, our Peruvian Paso stallion, won Champion of Champions Performance Stallion at La Bahia Show in Watsonville, CA

I left this knotty area and went back to searching for sponsors with big email lists. I’d bought all the books, e-books and such that I told you about on my first post of this series and knew what I was doing, finally.

I’m saying it again: If you’re thinking of doing an Amazon Day, click back to part 1 and buy those resources now.

It’s a numbers game, it’s all in the number of people who get your invitation. Winning is easy when you know the rules. Go for it!

All the best,

Sandy Nathan
Who kept going and by 2011 was the 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.

Amazon Bestseller Day 1–Bestseller or Bust
Amazon Bestseller Day 2–Forget Your Own Marketing Ideas
Amazon Bestseller Day 3–Get Top Sponsors!
Amazon Bestseller Day 4–Recap of 1-3 + Do Your Homework
Amazon Bestseller Day 5–How Many Books Will You Sell/Dealing with Amazon
Amazon Bestseller Day 6–It’s a Numbers Game: Have a Giant Mailing List
Amazon Bestseller Day 7–Blow by Blow of THE DAY
Amazon Bestseller Day 8–Was it worth it? Post-game Recap

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