Posts tagged: rancho vilasa

Lil’ Annie Comes Home – One Mule’s Journey from Tennessee to California

Me riding one of our Peruvian Pasos, Azteca de Oro BSN, in the olden days. This is in Monterey, CA, at the 1492 show.

I sold my horse and gave up riding forever perhaps nine months ago. This was after being advised by every medical type in my life and the Rector of my church that I would go Splat! if I came off a horse at my age and state of decrepitude. There is truth to this. I would be a dope if I didn’t acknowledge it.

The only thing is–riding is addictive. Not just the wind-in-your-hair thrilling part of riding, all of it, including picking out your horse’s hooves. It’s a physical thing: body memories, muscle memories. The part of being human that allows dancers to perform entire ballets without having to look at their notes. I’ve ridden for so long that the sensation of being on a horse can come to me anywhere. Swinging down the aisle of the local mall, for instance.

Not riding was painful.

After suffering for months, I decided that somewhere on the planet, a horse with a sufficiently low energy level must exist. It had to be a gaited horse–and this is a very important bit. Most people ride WTC horses: they walk, trot, and canter. The trot is the problematical gait: it’s the backbreaking bounce-bounce-bounce you find on most horses. People who ride rental horses once discover this gait and never ride again; it’s that jarring.

But, alternatives exist. I discovered Peruvian Pasos in the late 1980s, courtesy of my bad back. Peruvians are reputedly the smoothest riding horses in the world, a claim I believe. The only thing is, they’re a Spanish breed and many are very hot–Ole! That means if you move your pinkie, you may be in the next county before you can say, “Why am I on the ground?”

If I couldn’t find a Peruvian as sedate as what I wanted, I wanted another breed just as smooth. I had very limited goals in my post-optimal, maybe end-of-the-trail equine experience.  All I wanted to do was meander slowly around our arena and mosey down our mostly flat trails.

I also desperately needed a way of getting away from my computer. I’m an author and I spend most of my life in front of my screen playing with words and turning my spine into something resembling a pretzel. I needed a new interest! A passion! Outdoor exercise!

Last June, after another disappointing attempt to find the horse of my dreams, I was in Santa Fe NM having dinner with friends. It was really fun. They ride mules. Sue and Dick love their mules and ride them all over. “They are really friendly. They’re more like dogs.” Our friends said mules don’t go lame or break as often as horses.

A few years back, Dick started a “Meet a Mule Day” at the County Fair where mules and their people get together and ride across mattresses and through kids’ wading pools and do amazing things that would cause horses to have nervous breakdowns on the spot.  Dick described all the things his mule could do: find lost people, keep their property free of varmints, and do their income taxes. These are useful skills.

Most of my good ideas come when I’m asleep. After this dinner, I woke up with an Ahah! Why not get a mule? Mules like to go slow. They’re careful, smart, sure-footed, live a really long time (up to fifty years), and they’re sturdy. Why not get a mule? A gaited mule! I know they come gaited from seeing the Peruvian National Champion Mule at a horse show in Monterey, CA.

Great idea! All I had to do was find one. I said, “I think I’ll get a mule,” on Facebook. Lickety split, I was hearing from people I hadn’t heard from in years. The mule ladies. It was really fun. Did you know there’s a worldwide network of women who actually run the planet? They all ride mules. I began hearing from them. It was really fun and got me off of FB for hours at a time. And then back on the Net, searching for gaited mules.

I found a lot of gaited mules, all a long way from Santa Barbara, CA, and mostly in the South. I’d find one that sounded good in Alabama, another in Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, and then Tennessee. Clearly, my mileage points were going to be challenged by this search.

But then, a new friend told me about trainer Lou Moore-Jacobsen and One Moore Training in Templeton, CA. She trains mules! And she told me about the Reese Brothers Mules in Tennessee.  Their family has been producing and selling mules since the 1920s! That’s even older than me. Here’s their FB page. 

I contacted Richard Reese, who handles mule sales for his family’s business. Click here and you can contact him yourself. I told him what I just told you and asked if they had a mule that would fit my needs. He said he’d think about it. Somehow the fact that he would be in San Tan Valley, Arizona, at a mule auction and sale and could bring a prospect for me with him came up. All of a sudden, Yipes!, it was late July. The sale was in a few days.

Leavitt Ranch Mule Sale & Auction

My husband and I found ourselves at the Leavitt Ranch the last days of July 2015. Richard Reese had brought a gigantic semi-truck pulling an equally gigantic trailer full of mules.

It was so much fun! I want to thank Buck Leavitt and the Leavitt family for their gracious hospitality in letting all us mule-and-would-be-mule lovers tromp all over their place trying them out before the sale. And thanks to all the people that staffed the cash registers and so on. Quite a lot of work was involved in this production.

And thanks to all the people at the auction. It was such a fun event and I enjoyed meeting and being around so many new people. In my conversations with the “mule ladies” before going to the sale, one of the things I heard over and over again was, “Mule people are friendly. It’s not snobby like horse shows can be.” That was very true.

This was a totally new culture to me. I’m from Silicon Valley and lately (the last twenty-plus years) the Santa Barbara area. I’ve never been to a mule auction. Lotsa mules, folks. The auctioneer talks really fast. You don’t want to wave your bidding card around a lot, unless you intend to bid. The mules were really beautiful. Seductive, actually, moving into and out of the auction area. If you have an equine habit, this could be a danger area.

The Leavitts are going to have another sale in the spring, so if you’re at all inclined to mosey on down, it won’t be 110 degrees then. That was the only negative. The auction was hot, in all ways.

I do want to apologize to those people whose views I blocked at the auction, standing on the rail attempting to film the goings-on with my iPhone. (Which I just learned how to turn on.) I was trying to put together a video of the auction to post here. I didn’t realize I was in the way until someone told me, “You’re really blocking people’s views.” My husband said, “Yeah, you were really in the way.” Oops.

I need to warn you more emphatically about a downside to a mule auction. So many of the mules were so cool that we could have easily ended up with, oh, three or four. Really. An excited lady at the checkout rushed home to get her horse trailer, “I just bought two mules! I didn’t think I’d buy a mule …” Her parting words were lost as she ran to her truck.

Richard Reese showed extreme honesty in telling us, “They’re too green for you,” as we inquired about this mule or that. This was very good advice. My husband, who is normally the more conservative of the two of us, caught the fire. He wanted one. Or two. But we are old codgers knowing nothing of mules.

Oh! Did we get a mule? Yep. Lil’ Annie, who had been with the Reeses one and a half years, ridden by Richard himself. She is exquisitely beautiful and I rode her all over the Leavitt Ranch. Reese Mules are known for their good manners and quality. Did it ever show! I want to share a couple of pictures of Annie when we brought her home. This is her first airline trip. She was so good!

Annie and I on the moving walkway at the Phoenix Airport.

Doesn’t this beat fighting your way through the airport on your own hooves? Once we got into the terminal, Annie’s behavior was even more remarkable.

Annie's behavior at the check-in gate was better than most human passengers. Note how the helpful airlines people put her seat assignment on her rump!

She did have a little trouble at the airport security checkpoint as we boarded. She had to explain that she couldn’t remove her shoes because they were nailed to her feet. Also, fitting into her economy class seat was difficult.

Annie’s home now, a lovely addition to our family. How’s she doing? Freaked out, man. She’s in major culture shock. But, I got her some sunglasses and an iPhone. She’s starting to adjust to California life. Went to Starbuck’s and Trader Joe’s for the first time. I told her we’d cruise State St. and hit the beach soon. Maybe do some surfing. I’ll report when we do.

I also called trainer Lou Moore-Jacobsen. When you need help, get it. We’ll get it sorted out.

All the best,

Sandy Nathan, who, in addition to being a new mule owner, is also a bestselling and award-winning author. Check out my Amazon Author Page. Also, if you feel the slightest inclination to sign up for this blog through Google + or email, there are places on the top right of this page where you can do it. I will not spam you, posting interesting-to-almost-everyone articles only occasionally. I mean, where can you get a blog post about a mule in an airport?? It’s really funny; I’ve got thousands of FB and Twitter and other “friends,” using the Amazon definition of the term, which means you hit Like and made a comment on someone’s FB page once. But I’ve got 53 followers on this blog. It’s been like that for years. Maybe the sign-up thing is busted. I dunno. Try it and post a comment if it doesn’t work. Or works. Ciao!

Is Book Marketing like Snorkeling in a Septic Tank?

Sewage Treatment Plant in England

I have been wrestling with this issue for years. Do I defile myself by immersing my soul (and body) into the odoriferous swamp of  book peddling? Is bookselling the sleazy activity inappropriate for decent people that I think it is? Why is it so off-putting?

Look at my email inbox. As a good, modern Internet marketer, I belong to a multitude of Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter  writers’, readers’, and marketing  groups, as well as subscribing to individuals’ and groups’ blogs. And sites like Pixel of Ink, ENT, and BookBub. I get around three or four hundred emails a day. That’s after scrubbing my list of non-essentials. This is what the emails are like, except most aren’t intentionally funny:

I had to share the latest 5 star review from my new book entitled, POOPSIE SPANKS A POODLE: ‘Wow. This is a really good book. Great character development. You just feel for that poodle! You’re getting to be a better writer, Sandy. I’ll read everything you write!!’ Mom

“WOO-HOO! I JUST GOT MY 10,000,000th TWITTER FOLLOW! I broke their counter! Next, I’ll take over the world!”

“Here’s a foolproof system to sell your book on Amazon. Only requires $99 up front and lifetime celibacy.”  God

“God may promise you a good deal, but I deliver. Want all 5 star reviews? That can be arranged.” Satan

“Hi everyone! Please check out my Facebook  author page and give me a Like. When you’re done with that, could you go to my Amazon author page and Like it, too? And on Google +, there’s a  . . .  And on Twitter . . .  I’m also in a contest. Could you drop by GoodReads and vote? Pretty, pretty please? Plus, it’s my birthday. Could you send a cake?” Mona I’ve-Never-Heard-of-You-in-my-Life

“5 stars! Wow! Was this book hot! My Kindle ignited. Also the house.”

They go on like that, hundreds a day, many from the same person, “Buy my book! Buy my book!” “Me! Me! Me!” “My Book!” “Nothing else matters in the universe, so buy my book.” “Gimme! Gimme!” “He is HOT! She is HOT! Their dog is HOT!” Day after day. Vile communications pitched at . . . whom? Who would buy anything with this type of selling technique? It absolutely grosses me out. Because of this spewing of egotism, I haven’t promoted my stuff for maybe six months. My sales show it, too. This stream of verbiage must do something, but at what personal cost to those sending and receiving it?

Your better marketing articles say this behavior is marketing suicide. But the emails keep pouring in.

How to market a book? I dunno. I’ve been doing it for years and haven’t a clue. I’ve had friends say, “But your marketing is so good!” Meaning whatever I send out is beautiful and tasteful. But it doesn’t ignite my bottom line the way I want.

This is an example of the tasteful and elegant graphics that have my friends thinking I'm a great marketer. This actually happened: I couldn't get my sale to go away. Even Amazon couldn't help.

The good old days really were the good old days. My first book came out in 2006. Marketing was much easier in those early days. You didn’t have to do much more than have a great cover, a bunch of killer reviews, and a few national awards. Bingo! Selling success.

My first novel, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money, rose to the number 1 position in three categories of Mysticism and cruised around the 1,500 level in the Kindle store for a year. I did no promoting and didn’t think there was anything unusual about the book’s performance.

Hah! I wish I’d known how to take screenshots then. I’d have a record of those fabulous numbers. (The screenshot is the modern author’s best friend. After your mammoth promotional campaign lands you in the #1 Bestseller spot for fifteen minutes, you can stare at the screen shot afterward to remember the glory. You can only do that if you took it, of course.)

Now, it’s not so easy. The problem is the number of books coming out. How does an excellent, well-edited book, with a killer cover and award-winning author get noticed?
Seems like it should rise automatically. Forget that.

I’ve read three books recently that offer a defense against the tsunami of eBooks flooding Amazon. I recommend them heartily. They are:

After reading these books, I felt hope that I could get this marketing thing down. I had a definite direction. In Let’s Get Visible, Gaughran talks about Amazon algorithms and how to use them to your benefit. Reading this was like finding the Holy Grail. Both of his books above are worth memorizing.

Joanna Penn handles the “marketing is sleazy and degrading” issue and shows you how to approach the activity in a civilized fashion. Joanna says she’s introverted. (I doubt she could be as introverted as me and be in international speaking sensation.) But she’s accomplished great things including writing careers in fiction and nonfiction, blogging, and international speaking.

My initial reaction to the three books was relief and joy at having found concrete advice and a path to follow. By the time I got to the end of each, I was more like, “Whoa. This is a lot. This means serious work . . . When do these people sleep?” When I knew what success required, I felt depressed.

But the feelings didn’t last. I have a pressing need to practice the stuff in those books. Starting now. If you’re interested, links to my web page and Amazon Author Page are down below, as is a link to In Love by Christmas: A Paranomal Romance, which blasted it’s way to the top of the charts in a bunch of categories, ending up ranked in eleven Amazon categories just this week. Woo-ha!

In Love by Christmas is a paranormal romance according to the industry definitions of those terms. It’s a romance, in that the relationship drives the story and is its most important element. It’s paranormal in that a few of the characters have supernatural abilities. The hero, Leroy Watches Jr., is a shaman who can do all sorts of things, often with disastrous results. It’s not your paranormal romance with naked men  and dragons on the cover. (My cover artist gave me that description of the genre based on her experience designing covers.)

Oh, let’s go all the way. Here’s a video about In Love by Christmas. If there’s anything I like to do more than write, it’s make videos. This is my masterpiece and my Happy Holidays 2014 greeting to you:


IN LOVE BY CHRISTMAS: A PARANORMAL ROMANCE – Noel – Montreal Version +
from Sandy Nathan on Vimeo.
Leroy Watches Jr. is a shaman whose Power sometimes makes things worse. Despite his flaw, he must save his soul mate from her addictions, her father, and Evil Incarnate, or she’ll be damned forever.
Trying to unite with his true love, Leroy embarks on a pilgrimage that takes him to the highest levels of European society. As he travels, his shamanic Power grows. So does the Dark Lord’s hatred of him.
His prospective father-in-law demands that Leroy and Cass be in love by Christmas. Can they be?

All the best in your publishing endeavors. Remember, if facing the public is too much, hide under your bed. You’ll find me right beside you.

So long for now,

In Love by Christmas (Bloodsong 3)

In Love by Christmas (Bloodsong 3). My new book, and Amazon #1 Bestseller in Metaphysical Fantasy.

SANDY NATHAN, award-winning and #1 bestselling author of In Love by Christmas, and a bunch more. You can find them on my Amazon Author Page. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Reward of Writing

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

I’m redoing my website and bopped onto Amazon to check a fact about one of my books. I noticed that it had a new review. I froze. This is a tender moment for an author. I’ve gotten reviews that were so complementary that I practically levitated. And––like any author who’s been published for more than two weeks––I’ve gotten reviews that expressed the thought that tar and feathering was too good for my book––and me.

I was in pretty good mood. Should I look at the review and chance wrecking it? Yes. No. Yes. No. Well, what the hell.

As I read the review, my eyes filled and I started to tremble. I’ve gotten lots of very good reviews by wonderfully articulate readers, but something about Glenda A. Bixler’s review moved me.

I thought about it. Why was this review so touching? Because Glenda got me. She understood me and my writing. I am quirky (in a good way.) She captured and expressed her insights in a very deep way. I thought about my reaction to her review some more and realized that the connection that Glenda and I shared through The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boywas a heart connection. What I want more than anything is that kind of connection from my readers.

THAT’S THE REWARD OF WRITING FOR ME.

I talk about writing from the heart, living from the heart on this post from my blog. There’s even a video so you can see what I look like.

I’m going to quote a bit from Glenda’s review. Not only to I want to share my books with you, I want to share Glenda’s words. My husband just read her review and said, “She does the best review writing I’ve ever seen. Wow, can she write.”

Here are a couple of paragraphs from Glenda’s review of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy:

“Sandy Nathan had a dream–and she named it! You are now reading my thoughts about this quirky little book telling that dream–

‘something that is strange, not normal but cool’ according to the Urban dictionary. Strange, for one thing, because as I read, the word quirky came to my mind! I’ve never used it before! Certainly there are other books out there about the end of the world and I’ve read quite a few recently due to the “2012″ scare… But I don’t think there is ever going to be another like this one! . . .

“[Paragraphs removed]  This dream goes on and on…until we learn how the end of the world had started, moving across the earth, a city or a country at a time, was being destroyed…

“This dream also includes a love story like no other–really!

“Enchanting, fascinating, and heartwarming are the words I am left with as I think about the story. The end of the world? Yes, it did happen…

“Highly recommended!”

GABixlerReviews

Phew. It will take me days to recover from all that praise! But the operative word here is “quirky.” She names the distinguishing characteristic of my work. It’s unusual. Things aren’t what they seem. You won’t know what’s going to happen. My stuff isn’t like a mainstream novel where there’s a tough, but basically good-guy hero and you know what he’s going to do. I don’t write books that come out of some publisher’s standard formula. (Though I am enamored with love stories!)

That’s the joy of the indie author. We can be different. In a good way.

PS: Here’s a secret. The Angel’s sequel will be out in a couple of weeks. Lady Grace is a thrilling, action-filled adventure wrapped in the embrace of epic love. The link will take you to the Tales from Earth’s End Series official blog. Check it out: The blog has lots of information about the upcoming books in the series. Scroll down and you’ll find an “interview” with Sam Baahuhd, the headman of the village. It’s a fun interview and captures Sam perfectly.

The real secret is . . . people are telling me that Lady Grace is better than The Angel.  

All the best! Keep going for the real rewards!

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author


Sandy Nathan
is the winner of twenty-one national awards, 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.)
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

 

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