Exploring the Splendor of the Past in Leon, Spain – 131-147/200 Camino Photos

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Lest you think that León, Spain, a major stop along the Camino de Santiago, has only gorgeous Gothic stained glass windows to recommend it, let me assure you there is much more. Exquisitely fashioned bronze cathedral doors …

Cathedral doors Leon, Spain

Vaults upon vaults in the claustro (cloisters)

Claustro Leon, Spain

Claustro Leon, Spain

With incredible detail everywhere you look

Claustro Leon, Spain detail

And shrines in the most unlikely places. This one sat high above a city street, in the wall of an ancient building.

Shrine in Leon, Spain

Water features like this mesmerizing sculpture adorn the plazas

Then there was a visit to the incomparable Real Colegiato de San Isidoro. I could not take photos inside the Panteon de Reyes (pantheon of kings) that were painted in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Panteon de Reyes

Panteon de Reyes

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The colors are as vibrant today as they were centuries past. This same building held a gorgeous illustrated bible from the Mozarabic period (Christian/Muslim period) from the Christian Dark Ages – 960 AD.

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More walking, afterwards, took me past the ever-vigilant storks

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to the Museo de Leon and the gorgeous Paradore (state-run luxury hotel housed in castles)

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With beautiful details

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And the image of a pilgrim looking on … or up, as it were. Notice the yellow arrow in front of it. Such arrows guided me on my journey, kilometer after kilometer.

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The splendor soon petered away, into city parks

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And bodegas (wine cellars built into the sides of hills, right off the streets)

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I will leave Leon here, but my journey was not over yet. Stay tuned for more soon. If you’ve missed any of the photos in this series, feel free to backtrack over here.

Call to Arms – Book Marketing Results

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Xina Marie Uhl:

Interesting results of advertising places. I will have to keep this handy!

Originally posted on Nicholas C. Rossis:

Following my Call to Arms, a number of you responded by sharing with me your book marketing experience. I now have about a hundred responses by some fifty authors. Although some of the responses were expected, there were quite a few surprises in there for me.

Methodology

For anyone wishing to take a look at the raw data, you can download this Excel spreadsheet. I grouped the results according to whether the book was offered full-price, discounted or free. I also have a fourth category titled Other, that includes any entries where this was not specified.

To compare the various ad media, I came up with a number that represents the ratio between number of sales and cost of advertising. In other word, if you spent $1 and had one sale, then this number would be one. If you spent $1 and had two sales, the number would be two, etc.

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Cathedral of Light in Leon, Spain – 108-130/200 Camino Photos

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Little needs to be said about my visit to León, Spain as I walked the Camino de Santiago. As one of the largest cities along the French Way, it is a highlight of the trip. The cathedral in the old part of town is rather plain on the outside. But the inside! It is a marvel. I believe you will agree …

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If you’ve missed any of these photos, feel free to backtrack over here.

 

How I got great reviews for my self-published book

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How I got great reviews for my self-published book

Xina Marie Uhl:

Great post! I will have to use some of the same methods now that I’m rocking on the book promo again. :-)

Originally posted on Ryan McSwain:

I’ve had some people asking how I got so many quality reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for my first self-published novel, Monsters All the Way Down. It took a long time, so I’m not sure my approach was the most effective. But I’m happy to share, and I’d love to hear your own advice and comments.

I got reviews from three primary sources:

  • Word of mouth
  • Book bloggers
  • Amazon reviewers

Word of Mouth

If you’ve ever written anything, you know how flattering it is when people tell you they enjoyed it. Whether it’s in person, on Facebook, or on Twitter, it makes my day every time. I try to follow up my heartfelt thank-you by asking them to review the book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Don’t be a jerk about it; no one wants to be annoyed into reading your book, and that goes double for posting a review…

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Advertising: Amazon vs. Goodreads

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Xina Marie Uhl:

Next week I will attempt to get my marketing hat out of the back of the closet where it has been languishing for lo these many months. Thanks to Chris for his detailed and useful post!

Originally posted on chrismcmullen:

Image from ShutterStock. Image from ShutterStock.

ADVERTISING e-BOOKS

Since KDP introduced Advertising Marketing Services (AMS) for KDP Select books earlier this year, I’ve placed 50 ads on a variety of nonfiction Kindle e-books.

I’ve also placed over a dozen ads with Goodreads. It’s interesting to compare the two options for advertising e-books.

AUDIENCE

There are two great things about advertising right on Amazon’s website or on a Kindle device (both are possible with AMS via KDP):

  • Many of the customers who see your ad are already shopping for other books, i.e. they are looking for books to read, they have their wallets out, and they are ready to spend money.
  • Since they are already on Amazon, your ad isn’t interrupting some other activity and trying to persuade customers to leave one site to visit another.

If you advertise at Goodreads with a link to your Amazon product page, you’re asking readers who were…

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The Wildest, Wackiest Scavenger Hunt This Side of the Pecos

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Some months ago, my husband Dave and I attended a class called Laughter Yoga. The teacher asked each of us why we were taking the class. Dave answered, “Because my wife likes to do weird things.”

I do? This was news to me. Though upon reflection, Dave was probably right.

In that same vein, Dave and I participated in GISHWHES for the second time. This time we managed to talk our 18 year old nephew into joining us. And you know what? The whole experience was … weird.

That’s to be expected, though, if you know anything about the Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen (GISHWHES). Proof is excerpted from their website:

gishwhes believes that “normalcy” is overrated and that true “living” can be found hidden under the rocks of community artistic creation, acts of artistic sublime public performances, and random acts of kindness. More importantly, we are all artists and have gifts for society no matter what our capabilities or talents. And most importantly, we at GISHWHES want you to know the most important thing we’ve learned in the past four years: it is almost impossible to make durable clothing from cheese.

Now that you are practically frothing at the mouth in anticipation, here are things that Dave, myself, and our nephew “accomplished” during GISHWHES 2015.

#23. IMAGE. Tour a wastewater/sewage treatment factory dressed in formal attire with an accompanying violinist or flutist

When I called our local wastewater plant to schedule a tour the following occurred.

Attendant: “What’s the occasion?”
Me: “Err … a scavenger hunt.”
Attendant, unsurprised. “Oh yeah. Is this the one where you have to be playing a violin and wearing formal wear?”
Me: “Yes ….?”
Attendant, sounding bored: “We already had one person do that. See you tomorrow.”

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#41. IMAGE. The cats are coming! Prepare your dog for battle. Outfit him or her with armory, weaponry, cutting edge laser gear – whatever it takes to create a canine of mass destruction.

Here you see our intrepid battle hound, Misha. Watch out or she might stab you good.

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#44. IMAGE. Let’s see a portrait of Robert Downey, Jr. or Ironman made entirely of salt and pepper. Tweet it to him (@robertdowneyjr) with @gishwhes in the tweet. SUBMIT a link to the image to us, NOT a link to an image of the tweet – but you must tweet it to him for your image to count.

Our cherub-faced nephew Jacob created this one. Truly, he has a future in condiments, does he not?

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#79 IMAGE. Take an infrared photo of a popsicle in your mouth.

This is Dave with his phone held up to his head, not a gun.

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#108. VIDEO. (Time lapse this down to 14 seconds.) Lay your bets, and time lapse a snail race from the starting gun to the finish line.

This one took a surprisingly long time to completely.

Well, okay. Maybe not so surprising now that I think about it.

#110. VIDEO. Use a cutting edge 3D printer to 3D print your representation of the 4th dimension.

Dave is the creative mind behind this one.

#112. IMAGE. Let’s see a refined game of croquet on a public lawn of a historic site. All participants must be zombies.

We had some help with this one, as you can see. The other park-goers may never recover from the horror we produced. 104

#132. VIDEO. Make an action movie trailer. The main star: a pot roast.

This is also Jacob’s creation, and I am so impressed that I expect this boy’s film to be outselling Steven Spielberg at the theater any day now. Kickstarter for the actual film, anyone?

Keep your eyes pealed for next year’s scavenger hunt. Do yourself a favor and stock up on caffeinated beverages and courage, though. You’ll need both.

Historic Painting: “The Tempest” by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1886.

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Historic Painting: “The Tempest” by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1886.

Xina Marie Uhl:

Gorgeous and evocative – indeed this picture is worth more than a thousand words!

Originally posted on www.seanmunger.com:

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I want to thank fellow history blogger Andrew Joseph Pegoda for bringing this incredible painting and its amazing artist–Russian 19th century romanticist Ivan Aivazovsky–to my attention. This picture, completed in 1886, depicts survivors rowing desperately from their stricken sailing ship in the midst of a crashing storm. Undoubtedly thousands of similar pictures were created in the height of the Romanticist art boom in the 19th century, where marine scenes were especially popular, but this one by Aivazovsky is truly over the top. He is regarded as one of the best nautical painters of all time and from this you can tell why: look at how realistic and dynamic the waves in this picture are. This was Aivasovsky’s specialty, and waves of this nature appear in many of his paintings across his long career which stretches from the late 1840s to the end of the century.

Ivan Aivazovsky was born in…

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Discovering the Spirit of Burgos, Spain – 108-121/200 Camino Photos

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The historic heart of Burgos, Spain, is chocked full of shops, tourists, clergy, and workers. Buildings are joined in a continuous wall, and the daytime is alive with motion and sound. One place is different, though. You can see part of it on the right hand side of the photo.

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Here is a better view. It is Divina Pastora, a chapel and albergue just steps away from the great Gothic cathedral in Burgos. Look closely at its design. You can see the oldest part, with light stone, and the more recent brick floor added atop.

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It is a humble, quiet place. Simple. The complete opposite of the cathedral I will detail below. The albergue occupies the upper floor. It is small, but clean and warm. Alicia (Al-ee-see-yah) staffs it. In the evenings she sings in the chapel. In the morning she serenaded us awake with gentle guitar music and her sweet voice singing “Good morning, good morning, good morning.” The sound of her voice, the beauty of it and the sweetness, makes it my favorite memory from the Camino.

There, I encountered the Italian man I met in Santo Domingo de Calzada.

“Are you going to the cathedral?” I asked.

“No, I don’t like that you have to pay admission. A church should not profit from admission.”

I had heard this sentiment before. The admission price didn’t bother me, though, because the churches and historic sites that charge it must care for their collections, and this can be costly.

“You can tell me how it is,” he said.

I had never been to a Gothic cathedral before. The outside is nothing less than spectacular.

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The interior can be just as overwhelming

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Vaults, arches, marble, sculptures and more. All of it designed to draw the eye upward, to heaven, to the Light of the World

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Works of art meet the eye in all directions

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Even stairways are fantastic

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But pathos lurks amidst the beauty. Note the upper right hand corner of the below shot, just above the chandelier.

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It is known as the Flycatcher. A figure made in Germany, it rings a bell on the hour, and its mouth opens as if to catch flies. Forgive the blurry picture below.

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It is, dare I say it? Creepy. But it is not the only creepy thing in the cathedral. There are crypts, because medieval people wanted to be as close as possible to the sacred in cathedrals, hoping it would wear off on them, even after death.

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That is why the bones of saints were kept and revered, like this piece of an arm

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Still, the opulence all around can leave one flat. How many mouths would have been fed from the cost of this incredible place? It is clear that while it was created ostensibly for spiritual reasons, it was also meant to communicate worldly magnificence. Burgos was the capital of Castile and Leon.

Back at the Divina Pastora, the Italian man said, “Well, how was it?”

“Just fantastic!” I gushed. I handed him my camera so that he could look at the photos.

“What do you think?” I asked when he was done.

“I should have gone,” he said, frowning a bit.

I could not argue with him there.

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If you’ve missed any of these photos, feel free to backtrack over here.