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
author’s 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
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 NYC’s 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
Somehow over that short weekend we bonded in Va. Beach and when
I first moved to NYC I slept in her son’s 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
comfort–emotionally/spiritually and physically, nurturing to
everyone and has a heart of gold. I love her so much.
After parking across the street from the Javitt’s Center ($50.00
for the day and a good deal it was) Lisa and I went directly to
a booth downstairs, in the children’s 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 ‘similar to The Secret.’ 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 wife’s children’s 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 publisher’s names on them that say; ‘I’m with the
publishing business.’ 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
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
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
One hot humid August Tuesday morning the doorbell rang. When I
opened the door; a young woman was standing there barely holding
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
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."
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."
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, “In 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.” In my mind, I'm thinking, what are you
But anger had taken over. He says he'll see about that. And I
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.