Sandra MartinI spent many years in New York City as a literary agent and as a television producer. Even before that I lived my life as if I were an adventurer Ė this was in spite of everyone telling me to settle down and get a 9-5 job. And I had many, many jobs. Iíve been telling stories about my experiences such as crashing in a small plane in the Grand Canyon, and stories about these amazing characters I met over the years in my business.  Often these experiences changed my life dramatically, sometimes to the extreme, and sometimes change came from chance encounters. Lately Iíve been encouraged to write them down.  I love what I do, am blessed to have been so lucky to see the world, and have such wonderful, loving people in my life.

I hope you enjoy these stories.


Sandra
 

Nov 1, 2007
George Ritchie passed away October 29, 2007 

I had an inordinate, unusual fear of snakes, a phobia really. When Mom was pregnant with me, she, Dad and Dadís younger brother Berkley were going for a walk. Berkley saw a snake in the lane and was afraid so my Dad rushed over to kill it with a hoe he happened to be walking with. It was a poisonous moccasin snake. He killed it and when he went to pitch it out of the lane, it wrapped around the hoe and it landed on Mom. Wrapping itself tightly around her neck. Mom let out a blood curdling scream. Dad rushed to get it off of her. Everyone thought that was why I was so afraid of snakes. 

As a child growing up on a farm with many creeks, springs, ponds and a river there was an abundance of snakes. It seemed to me they were everywhere. And I kept an eye out for them. I was on hyper alert for snakes for most of my life. 

In the course of things, I married, had children, moved to the suburbs and continued my vigilance for snakes. Wherever I was or whenever I got in the car, I scanned to make sure it was free of snakes. It was a totally unconscious pattern. Wherever I went, I first scanned for snakes. My husband completely understood about my fear and when Iíd have a nightmare heíd look under the bed or clear out the closet to reassure me that the house was free of snakes. Dreams like that didnít happen often but it was one thing I could count on from him Ė a total understanding of that intense fear of snakes that Iíd endured all my life.  

Also in the course of life, 12 years on, we got a divorce. After a brief meeting with him one afternoon to discuss the children, I returned to a friendís house for dinner. She hadnít arrived so I laid on her sofa to rest and went into a deep meditative state. I wondered aloud the connection from past lives that my husband and I might have had and what they meant to us now.  

In that altered state I had a vision: a scene unfolded in front of me, like a big television screen. In one scene I was on a big barge floating down a river, dressed in a ceremonial, brocaded gown, one of many women similarly dressed. I knew that we were Asian, maybe from Siam and my husband was then in the royal family. His mother was at his knee attending his every need. We, the ladies of the court, were ignored. I was sad, bored and leaning against a pole. I had my hand in the water. I watched as a snake swam up to it, bit me and I saw myself die.  

Another scene: I am a small black baby and in the wilds of Africa, scared, crying, sitting in the dirt. A snake is coming towards me and Iím looking at it fearful. I say, in my mind, if you bite me Iíll be forever afraid of snakes. As it bit me, a man was running towards me picking me up. It was my husband in the body of an almost naked black man. 

Another scene was rolled by but, for some unknown reason, Iíve forgotten what it was, or blocked it out more likely.  

I was on the search for truth, enlightenment, and love but mostly for understanding and forgiveness. I'd been to mainstream churches, charismatic churches, one Catholic priest invited me to "not come back" because he said I was disruptive, (I kept asking, do you really think this is what Jesus would say? when they were so judgmental of others not in their faith). I took yoga and that was spirituality uplifting as well as physically challenging, but I wanted something deeper. I wanted to know the real truth. Who was I? Where did I come from? And why wasnít my
life working?  Enter Dr. George Ritchie.

Through meeting Dr. Ritchie and listening to his story of dying and meeting Jesus, I learned about myself. My life developed a clarity that it'd not had before, a focus, and meaning. What I wanted was to be closer to Jesus, the Christ. I realized that everything else that had happened
in my life was just bringing me to that understanding. But I was still afraid of snakes.

Dr. Ritchie was a medical doctor and had gone back to the University of Virginia Medical School to become a psychiatrist. He said people that were coming to his office had a sickness of the spirit not of the body and he wanted to be able to help them in a deeper way. He organized summer camps for families high up in the mountains of Virginia. It was also an intense healing experience - if you were up to it.

I took my kids. It was good for us. I think we attended three years in a row. It was heavy with psychological counseling, spiritual lessons, and nature walks.

Late one night I was leaving my cabin, which was basically a screened in porch with bunk beds, to go to the bathroom. I opened the cabin door and surprised a big snake. It lunged up at me and I turned so quickly that my feet didn't move, but my body fell forward, full weight onto the ground as I let out a blood curdling scream. Everyone came running. I calmed down, eventually, and finally went to bed.

The next morning, Dr. Ritchie found me and said let's go for a walk. Oh, no, I thought-another man telling me that snakes were more afraid of me, than I of them and that I'd scared it too. Snakes are God's little creatures too. Yeah. Yeah. I'd heard all of these explanations and more.

We start down the path towards the creek. Along the way, yes, Dr. Ritchie is saying that they are God's creatures and that you scared him/her too, but he takes my hand and is holding it tight, so tight that I cease to listen to him as I'm concentrating on my hand. Then he takes my other hand. Ummm, I'm wondering what is going on? We are standing together and he turns and says, "Look at me." I do. He is telling me about fear, anxiety and how we use symbols for these things. He says you have huge amounts of both so you have a huge snake/fear thing going. Then he says look down at the ground. I am surrounded by snakes. They are crawling everywhere. Big snakes, baby snakes, green ones, black ones, all kinds of snakes. If I could've levitated I would've. No wonder he's holding me so tight, he knows I want to run, run like the wind away from these snakes like I've done all my life in my dreams. And a few times in real life too.

I trust Dr. Ritchie so completely that I donít even cry or scream or anything. I look down and I see that they're - relatively - safe looking, calm, not trying to bite me, not threatening me in any way, and just going about their business probably wondering why Dr. Ritchie called them all together.

And then I have the light - you know that awakening that changes the structure of everything you thought you knew. I have an epiphany that it is my fear within me that I've projected outwards into the form of a snake probably using the fear of Mom's experience when I was in the womb but
that it really has nothing at all to do with the actual snake animal. It is me, all me, internalizing a super anxiety that has made me hyper vigilant for my entire life.

And like that I let go of my fear of snakes. I am okay. I haven't said anything but George feels me release the fear and he lets my hands go. We have a laugh. The snakes crawl off; I don't run.

George could do these things. 

Postscript: 

I met George Ritchie through a church group and we became fast friends. He wrote two books about his experiences, My Life After Dying: Becoming Alive to Universal Love and Ordered to Return; My Life After Dying. Elizabeth Sherrill co-wrote his first book, Return from Tomorrow.

From the book cover of Return from Tomorrow:

At the age of twenty, George Ritchie died in an Army hospital. Nine minutes later, he returned to life. What happened to him during those minutes was so compelling that it changed his life forever. In Return from Tomorrow, Ritchie tells of his transforming encounter with the Son of God, who led him to encounters with other nonphysical beings at the very doorway of eternity. Ritchieís extraordinary experience not only altered his view of eternity, but it has also altered the lives of hundreds of thousands of readers. One of the most startling and hopeful descriptions of the realm beyond, this classic will inspire readers from all walks of life.

George G. Ritchie has served as president of the Richmond Academy of General Practice; chairman of the Department of Psychiatry of Towers Hospital; and founder and president of the Universal Youth Corps, Inc. He lived in Virginia.


August 1, 2007
In May I attended an author event at the Brunswick Library in Lawrenceville, Virginia and met the most amazing woman. Sylvia Clute. I was wandering around and her energy just drew me. Somehow I knew that she had something to say that I wanted to hear. She is a lawyer and studies the Course in Miracles and has written a fascinating novel.

About her novel: Destiny Unveiled unveils Seven Spiritual Principles for Governing a People. The accomplished attorney Christi Daniel desperately searches for better answers to our legal, governmental, and political systems. Her mentor through the process is Founding Father George Washington. He reveals a world in which harmony, balance and unity can save us from disaster.

Sylvia takes the reader on a journey from the voice of fear to the voice of love. She spoke to us at the Dairy Barn on June 16th. The title of her talk was Love as a Political Philosophy for the 21st Century. She outlined the Seven Spiritual Principles and presented us with a unified approach to law, government and social order based on the distinctions between love and fear, as each defines a distinct worldview. She was most inspiring and awesomely brilliant.

Sylvia is a trial attorney in private practice in Richmond, VA. She holds an MA in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a Juris Doctor from Boston University School of Law, an MA in Public Administration from the University of California at Berkeley, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Colorado. She also serves as executive director of Meta United and president and CEO of New Founders Press, Ltd.
Sylvia Clute and Sandra Martin photo from Dairy Barn Event June 16, 2007 Attendees arriving for Sylvia Cluteís talk.
June 16th 2007

Mel Gibson and being Star Struck

I once had a relationship with Mel Gibson. Actually it was with Mel Gibsonís company, ICON Productions. ICON was interested in many of the books Iíd agented and offered me a Ďhousekeeping dealí which in Hollywood means you get an office, a desk, someone to answer your phone and access to their development people, but no money. At least that was my deal.

Mel was energetic, fun and full of curiosity. I liked him as a person and we talked about conspiracies, children, movies and what my latest conspiracy books concerned. He had this odd habit of defacing his posters in the office. The halls were lined with posters from his movies and on each one he had colored in a black eye, or a funny mustache, or blackened his teeth on every picture.

One day he came in to the lobby and he was nervous, moving about from sofa to chair to walking around until someone asked him what was wrong. He said, ďIím trying to quit smoking again. This morning Iíve been hypnotized; I have a patch on, and Iím chewing nicorette gum. Iím wired man! And I am still craving a cigarette.Ē He just couldnít give that evil cigarette up.

He was always nice and easy and I had never had that star-struck experience. I knew a lot of movie stars by then and they were just like everybody else, it seemed to me.

One day I was working in my office and trying to focus on talking with a publisher back in New York because we were having a big problem with an author. Someone kept coming in my office, my back was to the door, and finally I just turned my face to the corner so I could concentrate and ignore whoever was trying to get my attention. Iím done and putting the phone down when I turn around and Mel was kneeling beside my desk writing me a note. He looked up with those blue eyes and, oh my God I thought Iím here with an unbelievably famous, unbelievably handsome, make that gorgeous movie star. And I just stared. I had been star struck. He immediately recognized the look and jumped up and was out of the office in an instant.

Thankfully I got my composure back the next day.

An Alien experience in a Japanese restaurant

In my years as literary agent I met all kinds of UFO types; investigators, experiencers, Roswell devotees, abductees, fiction writers and some truly strange people. Iíd receive proposals about how the aliens were the good guys, the bad guys, they were just watching us and meant us no harm, had seeded the planet, were coming back and weíd better be ready, they were keeping us from destroying ourselves, strange and very strange encounters, and many more. One of the more intriguing came from a beautiful LA woman who said sheíd had an experience with a reptilian alien. She had a co-writer who was in love with her and had written her book proposal and then her book until he finally realized that she didnít feel the same about him and that ended that. Iíd take her to lunch and/or dinner whenever I was in LA.

At a Japanese restaurant up in the Hollywood Hills, right above the Magic Castle, we met to have dinner. She was talking about her job. She was a jazz singer but also did impersonations of Marilyn Monroe for parties. She was talented and had a gift for singing. She was eating sashimi and while she was talking and I was listening, in an instant, a fleeting moment I saw her as a reptilian alien. Still beautiful but sleek, bright and with light green scales. I took a quick breath, she asked if I was okay and I said too much wasabe.


June 3, 2007
Lisa and I returned last night around 2 AM from NYC and our world-wind tour of the BEA (Booksellers convention). We returned with 25 canvas bags (my fav) and lots of new books (advanced reading copies) plus I got photos taken with a few of the authorís that were signing and selling their books. Lisa had meetings every half hour with editors/publishers and new contacts. We arrived bright and early, ready to go at 9 AM after spending the night with Claudia Trivelas, an old friend of 20 years.

How I met Claudia: She and her husband (at the time) Peter attended the first Shirley MacLaine seminar that took place in Va. Beach sort of semi-sponsored by the ARE and held at the Cavalier Hotel. Peter was the camera man for Paul Brubaker. They both worked at NBC in NYCís Rockefeller Plaza at the time. Peter as head of editing all programming for NBC shot in the New York NBC Studios. Paul was a producer for The Today Show. Claudia and Peter have divorced but are still very close and have many similar interests. I remember she said that they met in Paris at a TM meditation training seminar. I thought that was so romantic.

Somehow over that short weekend we bonded in Va. Beach and when I first moved to NYC I slept in her sonís bed. Jonathan was 8 at the time and had airplanes on sheets and stars on his ceiling. Jonathan gets married this June 23rd. How time flies. But it was a perfect beginning for a novice in the strange land of NYCity where I knew not one person except for their warm and loving family. Claudia is thoughtful, mother-like in concern for your comfortĖemotionally/spiritually and physically, nurturing to everyone and has a heart of gold. I love her so much.

After parking across the street from the Javittís Center ($50.00 for the day and a good deal it was) Lisa and I went directly to a booth downstairs, in the childrenís books department, called Starlines. This man publishes calendars specifically for your astrology sign. I wanted Scorpio and Lisa wanted Pisces. We talked for a minute and in that minute he was pitching Lisa a book that he had written Ďsimilar to The Secret.í Lisa was so sweet she gave him her card and we moved along. The next booth we stopped at, same thing, a publisher pitching his book idea, this time it was his wifeís childrenís book. Lisa sweetly wished his wife the best of luck with her book since we know children book publishing is the hardest to break into.

Lisa went on her way to her appointments and I walked around. I gathered these great canvas bags that most publishers give out. They are perfect for a book addict because they are sturdy and they have publisherís names on them that say; ĎIím with the publishing business.í Nice.
 


1 June 2007
Tibetan meditation experience

As a young, married suburban woman in Richmond Virginia, I was in a spiritual quandary and on such an intense spiritual search that I tried just about anything. I was desperate to discover what life was about, what it meant, who I "really" was and why I was here. I was in my early 20s with two children; a daughter of four and a son of eight months. Some how I knew that this current me wasn't all that I could be. I investigated all the mainstream religions, attended weekly prayer groups, and I went to sorts of alternative thought systems, from Theosophy to Edgar Cayce Search for God Study Groups. After all it was the 60s and even though I was a suburban mom, married to an accountant I wasn't totally unaware of the vast changes going on in the world.

One of the things I did was take yoga classes. The classes were taught in a townhouse a few blocks off the campus of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) by an English professor. Marcia was an extremely beautiful, dark eyed, statuesque brunette. She had a strong physical presence, but a breathy Marilyn Monroe come-hither voice. Her voice was always a surprise. It could have been the spiritual manifestation of opposites. After teaching all day, being in charge, the soul of power, at night she turned into a receptive and non-threatening whisper of a person, the soul of submissiveness. Or maybe it was because she was over six feet tall and a formidable person and this was her way of not overwhelming us. She was a mystery and a fascination to me. Anyway, I went every Wednesday night at 7 PM.

I took to yoga like a duck to water. My body was young, subtle and the postures felt natural. The meditation was even better. I was raised as a Primitive Baptist in a small southern Virginia town. Yoga wasn't in our vocabulary. And if it had come up, it would've been reason for serious concern. It might have even been cause for a call from the minister.

I was very quiet; I don't think I ever spoke except for the OM meditation. I did the yoga poses easily, waiting eagerly for the meditation. Marcia's voice took us on a long whispery voyage, an incantation that took us down, down into our deeper selves to reach for our highest spiritual inclinations. I loved it. It felt to me to be superior way of discovering my higher self, a self that I didn't know I had - one full of respect and belief in this vast part of me that I didn't have otherwise.

This one meditation, the reason I'm writing, happened after we were deep into our inner worlds. We'd finished our exercises and Marcia led us into a mediation. I was sailing along on the OM and I opened my eyes and I wasn't sitting in a Grove Avenue townhouse, I was looking out of eyes in another world. I was high up in the mountains, vast mountains, and overwhelming endless vistas. No snow, just grey; grey skies, grey rocky cliffs. A deep sense of peace penetrated my every cell. Where was I? Who was this? I was nervous and excited at the same moment.

I looked down and my/his legs were brown, thin and skinny, I could see the bones, and these legs were unbelievably dirty legs.

All of a sudden I became aware of HIM. I was surprised by a slightly humorous charm, and genuine warmth that came from him. "We" were sitting on the ground. The ground was grey, gravelly and cold. One small dented pan, a small wooden box and nothing else. I blinked trying to figure out what was happening. He laughed inside. His sweet peace was all encompassing. I shut my eyes again, letting this anxiety-less world envelop me. I relaxed into it.

After a while I started to get slightly worried about the Grove Avenue yoga studio and how to get back there. I could feel the hard rocks under his almost naked bottom. I could feel the emptiness of his stomach. His dry mouth. I knew he lived slightly down and to the left in a small cave. I wondered if he was on Grove Avenue checking out the yoga class. I somehow knew that this was Tibet and he was an acetic monk. Even though it was a warm and inviting energy I was ready to go. But how? I decided that I had to go back into deep meditation. I focused my energy, filled my being with OM and descended into my center.

Then I knew I was back in Richmond. I opened my eyes and was surprised to see that everyone else had packed up and left. I was alone in the studio.

I drove the 30 minutes back to the suburbs in a daze - from one world to another. But I've never forgotten that experience and that man.


1 May 2007
How I became a Literary Agent

I was living in Virginia Beach with my accountant sister Brenda. It was summer and I was taking care of her 9 year old son, Colin, who I adored. I'd recently gotten a divorce. The Sandra Martin Show, a half hour weekly program I hosted on local television station where I interviewed new age speakers (Native Americans, dream interpreters, Edgar Cayce experts, etc.) was on hiatus. As well I had been working for the local PBS station, I had tried to make a major move to national PBS producing a series and it'd fallen through. I was nursing my wounds, taking it easy and wondering about what my next (ad)venture would be.  I'd already crashed in a small plane in the Grand Canyon and been lost sailing in the Bermuda Triangle. My life was never boring.

One hot humid August Tuesday morning the doorbell rang. When I opened the door; a young woman was standing there barely holding back tears.
I knew her face but not her name.

She said, "Carol told me you could help me."

"Do what?" I asked.

She came in, sat down, I put a box of tissues by her side and Norma told me her lament. She had a manuscript of cat stories for which she had gotten a big New York publishing contract and a $7,000 advance. She needed that money badly. Her editor had called her this morning, crying, and said that the publisher had come in and fired everyone in that department, closed the imprint and her contract was null and void. She said publishing in New York is evil. They are not nice people. And to top it all her editor was 8 months pregnant, how could she? She really started crying then.

"Why did Carol think I could help you? I know nothing about publishing." Plus Carol was psychologist, a therapist.

She said you were the only person she could think of that knew how to deal with big corporations. I'd been an awarding winning account executive with the PBS station.

"Yes, I do work with big companies but that doesn't mean I'd know what to do about your problem."

Yikes. She was crying again, so I went into the kitchen to make us some jasmine tea and think things through. On a yellow legal pad, of which
Brenda should have stock in the manufacturer she used so many of them, I wrote down the only things I thought would be helpful. It was what I'd do if I was in the same situation. That is --- a situation where I knew nothing about nothing, but that'd never stopped me before so I wrote:

1) if you've sold it once I'm sure you could sell it again

2) If big companies think you want something back, sometimes it makes them want it just in case you know something they don't

3) And if they aren't interested they can take forever to make a move so

4) I'd write them asking them to return my rights immediately so I could move on.

Norma took the yellow pad, the tissues and left. She didn't say much. I hoped I helped but made a mental note to tell Carol to stop sending people my way while I drank my tea.

Norma returned that afternoon all bubbly and sweet.

"I'd like you to read my letter."

"OK."

She requested her rights back in a very professional, lawyerly way. It sounded great until the last paragraph which said, if you have any
problems, please call Sandra Martin at 804 422 4921.

"Wait, you can't do that because I know nothing about this."

"Oh dear."

She starts to cry again and so I just say soothing things, quietly walking her back to the door. Just leave it in I'm sure it'll be alright.

Damn, I really do have to call Carol.

About two weeks later my phone rang early one morning. A young man with a high squeaky voice said: "I don't know who you are, I've never heard of you and you have no right to do this. We have a contract."

And he went on and on. I couldn't get a word in edgewise to ask what this was about. I'm trying to think who I could've upset so much. I haven't even been doing anything plus I'm generally an easy going, mild mannered Southern lady. Finally he says her name, Norma, and I realize that this is the publishing company. No wonder she was so upset. I've gotten upset for both of us by then. I turn into my steely southern magnolia personality and say, ďIn all my years of doing business I've never had anyone speak to me in this tone of voice. Because of your attitude; your abominable behavior you are going to have to renegotiate this entire deal.Ē In my mind, I'm thinking, what are you saying?

But anger had taken over. He says he'll see about that. And I say fine.

We hung up.

I walk around cooling off and thinking, damn, he wants her book, why didn't I just give him Norma's number (after I found it of course) and while I was looking for it, he called back, calm and quiet and said, I talked with my publisher and she said we will renegotiate with you.

I called Norma to give her his name and number and she says, "oh Sandra can't you help me? Couldn't you just talk with him? They are so evil."

Well I had nothing better to do and it was a big challenge. He had really pissed me off. I went out, purchased a paperback book, How to be your own Literary Agent, read it that night and called Matt (the new editor) the next morning to say he'd be dealing with me. I told him exactly what had happened.

After a few weeks we'd settled for a $45,000 advance, he sent me roses and said you should really make this your profession. Norma spread the word and soon I was in New York City meeting editors and making deals.

That is how I became a literary agent.

 

Back one page         Back to top of page

 
 

Transforming the World One Book at a Time