Praying on the Camino de Santiago

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There will be lots and lots of time to pray as I walk the Camino de Santiago very soon. I will be praying for my friends and family, for animals and the earth, and for goodness and peace. During my honeymoon many years ago, Dave and I went from church to church in San Francisco, meeting many wonderful people including a monk who work a habit and sandals and who said “Praise God” with every other sentence. He glowed with peace and love.

While vacationing in Istanbul some years ago I was surprised to see many people – primarily men – clutching prayer beads which they would use throughout the day. As my husband, daughter, and I waited outside a mosque in Konya, Turkey, a woman sitting next to me gave me a gift of a string of prayer beads. She didn’t know me and we did not share a common language, but she knew the spirit of generosity and I am always touched when I think of her gift.

Here are some of my favorite prayers which I will be reciting on my walk. Share yours in the comments below, or request that I hold a special need or desire in prayer for you. I have been trained as a prayer chaplain and have prayed with many people – it is an honor and a gift to do so.

Metta – Prayer of Lovingkindness

May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I live with ease

May you be safe
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you live with ease

May my enemy be safe
May my enemy be happy
May my enemy be healthy
May my enemy live with ease

May all beings be safe
May all beings be happy
May all beings be healthy
May all beings live with ease

~

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God be with thee in every pass, Jesus be with thee on every hill
Spirit be with thee on every stream, headland and ridge and lawn;
Each sea and land, each moor and meadow,
Each lying down, each rising up,
In the trough of the waves, on the crest of the billows,
Each step of the journey thou goest.
Carmina Gadelica

~

Psalm 23 King James Version

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

~

Be thou a bright flame before me,
Be thou a guiding star above me,
Be thou a smooth path below me,
Be thou a kindly shepherd behind me,
Today, tonight and forever.
St Columba

~

God to enfold me, God to surround me,
God in my speaking, God in my thinking,
God in my sleeping, God in my waking,
God in my watching, God in my hoping,
God in my life, God in my lips,
God in my soul, God in my heart,
God in my suffering, God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in my eternity.
Carmina Gadelica

~

There is no plant in the ground
But is full of His virtue
There is no form in the strand
But is full of His blessing.
Jesu! Jesu! Jesu!
Jesu! meet it were to praise Him.

There is no life in the sea,
There is no creature in the river,
There is naught in the firmament,
But proclaims His goodness.
Jesu! Jesu! Jesu!
Jesu! meet it were to praise Him.

There is no bird in the wing,
There is no star in the sky,
There is nothing beneath the sun,
But proclaims His goodness.
Jesu! Jesu! Jesu!
Jesu! meet it were to praise Him.
Carmina Gadelica

~

The Prayer for Protection

The light of God surrounds you,
The love of God enfolds you,
The power of God protects you,
The presence of God watches over you,
Where you are, God is
And all is well.
James Dillet Freeman

~

A Pilgrim’s Prayer 

O God, who brought your servant Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans, protecting him in his wanderings, who guided the Hebrew people across the desert, we ask that you watch over us, your servants, as we walk in the love of your name to Santiago de Compostela.

Be for us our companion on the walk,
Our guide at the crossroads,
Our breath in our weariness,
Our protection in danger,
Our albergue on the Camino,
Our shade in the heat,
Our light in the darkness,
Our consolation in our discouragements,
And our strength in our intentions.

So that with your guidance we may arrive safe and sound at the end of the Road and enriched with grace and virtue we return safely to our homes filled with joy.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Apostle Santiago, pray for us.
Santa Maria, pray for us.

Kindle Scout for Epic Fantasy?

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I’m trying something for my latest book, an epic fantasy novel. Please nominate it over on the Kindle Scout website (it uses your Amazon login info) which may result in it being published through this imprint. The first pages are listed here as well so you can see what you’re getting into. Apparently, you can get free copies of books when you nominate ones that are published, even. Pretty good deal. So, clicky click please!

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Preparing for the Camino – Hiking Poles

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After I recovered from hurting my back, I started using hiking poles regularly. I found several benefits to it: it is easier to get up hills, safer to come down hills (no more slipping on rocks and falling on my behind), and if necessary, I can either poke my dogs in the behind or fight off rabid raccoons. Now, granted, there aren’t that many rabid raccoons where I live, but you never know.

Lots of people tout the benefits of using hiking poles on the Camino de Santiago, and I fully plan on doing the same. (Homeland Security, however, prohibits them from  carry on luggage, so I will buy them in Spain.) Most advice on the Camino stresses that you must use the poles correctly for maximum benefit. How does one do that? Here are a couple of brief videos that explain that here:

If you’d like more detailed information than this, check out this link: Effectively Using Hiking Poles: The Gas-Brake-Coast Method.

Guest Post: Multi-touch iBooks and ‘The Sword of Air’ by R.J. Madigan

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Xina Marie Uhl:

Interesting look at the evolving nature of ebooks. Love the stylish way this book is presented and the bold use of new technology. I might even have to consider going with Apple or at least supplementing what I have already with an Apple product or two in order to take advantage of this.

Originally posted on Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing:

I was so intrigued by R.J. Madigan’s experimentation with new innovations in iBook formatting that I requested a Guest Post about the subject for my own blog as I believe this will be of interest to many of my readers, as well.

The Sword of Air – Punk publishing at it’s best, pushing the medium
to create something new

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Visibility is the indie author’s enemy and with new titles being published every day it is getting harder and harder to stand out in such a crowded market place. This is why I decided to publish my first Young Adult Fantasy novel The Sword of Air as an iBook. With world-building creative options like music HD video, 3D modelling and photography to colour my story I was able to create a book unlike anything else on the market.

View the book trailer here.

Sales of printed books are falling every…

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Update on My Camino de Santiago

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Well, I leave on my trip in a little more than two weeks already. Time is really closing in! It’s a bit of a mad rush to make arrangements and order the last minute items I’ll need, and make sure that I think of all the things that need to be taken care of at home while I’m gone.

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I’m up to walking 7-8 miles in one go now, which is harder on the dogs than me. A couple of my dogs were attacked by a pit bull last week and so they are out of the walking duty while they recover. The remaining dog, Rudy the terrier, is usually sandwiched between these two. Now he is free to sniff the flowers and leap at lizards, but also to demand lots of rest breaks. Hiking so often has been wonderful in beautiful springtime, as you can see from the pictures.

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My goal is to be up to 10 miles in one go by the time I leave, so I’m 75% of the way there! Woo hoo!

I also received my credential in the mail. The various albergues (pilgrim hostels) along the way will stamp it for me, qualifying me for the low pilgrim rate. It’s a sort of pilgrim passport, I suppose.

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The financial generosity of many continues to amaze and humble me. One donator even gave me two separate donations! I so appreciate the kind emails, messages, and shares/retweets that you all have helped me with. I’m a very lucky person to be the recipient of so much attention! I’m at 32% of my goal amount. This means that 13 days of room and board have been paid for already! Just 27 left to go.

Back at the beginning of this preparation experience I told my doctor about what I was doing. He pronounced it good for me “mentally, physically, and spiritually.” The “opening jitters” did make me question this at first, but now that I’m almost there I see the truth of his prescription.

Preparing for the Camino

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Xina Marie Uhl:

Haha – it’s always illuminating to learn how you appear to others!

Originally posted on The Far Places:

imagesThe first I had ever heard of the Camino de Santiago in Spain was in an article published in the October 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler, written by actor Andrew McCarthy about his experiences with conquering his own fears and vulnerabilities through travel. I thought, I’d like to test myself on that same road one of these days, but it wasn’t high on my priority list so I pushed it aside in favor of other, more remote, destinations like Antarctica. But – as I wrote a couple weeks ago – my friend Xina (journeytaker) recently invited me to accompany her.

While I admit I was a bit surprised that she’d decided to undertake such a journey – even if she had to do it alone –  I realized I shouldn’t be, nor should I be surprised that she came up with a destination already in the…

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Reasons for Walking the Camino de Santiago

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Most people I have told about my intention to walk the Camino de Santiago have the same reaction.

First, there’s the silence. Stunned silence, followed by a piercing gaze, an: “Are you serious?” sort of look. Then, when they see that I am, indeed, not kidding, they take a moment, processing, and say something like, “I see. Why do you want to do this?”

I’m pretty good at dealing with the initial shocked reaction. I get it; it seems to have come out of the blue to most of my friends and family. They don’t know that I first learned about the Camino years ago, while studying history. They don’t know that I’ve been thinking about it since then, because to be honest, I haven’t said anything about it. It’s one of those desires that has lived in my heart in a cocooned state, because of its outrageous nature. Taking 6 weeks or more off daily life is rather outrageous, at least in my mind. Walking 500 miles is rather outrageous, too. I’m not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. But what I lack in physical prowess I make up for in enthusiasm.

Foolish enth11017665_1398165933827601_3386207604897014241_nusiasm, some might say.

I have taken an ice pick to the frozen and hard places of my heart these past few years. I am splitting it open and letting out all the airy dreams and insubstantial wishes. Some flutter away like moths. Others glow and pulse and speak to me in a voice I cannot deny.

Make me real. Do it now, or not at all.

So, yes, I can deal with the shock. It is something I have debated in my own mind, a familiar topic. But what I am not so good at comprehending and answering are questions about why I’m doing the Camino. I don’t respond with the gravity the question demands. Usually I blather on about how I love history and walking and how my spirit says to go. I’m a grandmother now and if I don’t go now when will I? It’s not like time is passing more slowly than it used to. Menopause has wreaked its havoc on my body and that has a way of bringing the reality of the passing years to the forefront of one’s mind.

And all of these reasons are true. I’m a writer and because of that, I have the advantage of calling any and every endeavor research. Who knows what might come of my trip? I am looking at projects now, sifting them and finding those that seem most worthy.

These explanations, especially the part about my spirit – the nudgings of the Holy Spirit – satisfies some. These are those who are used to doing things for faith that others might find strange or incomprehensible. They have learned, as I have, that following Spirit is something that is frequently frightening and strenuous, but that it is always good, no matter the outward appearance, no matter even the result, as counterintuitive as that sounds. That, indeed, God works in mysterious ways.

Others look at me with a blank sort of stare, and rephrase the question.

“What do you hope to gain from this?”

On my end, the blathering continues. Adventure, inner strength, peace, power, love … I have said all these things and more, and yes, of course I hope to gain them. But the true answer is that I just don’t know what will happen. What will come from this great effort, this long walk. That flippant old answer to the question, “Why do you climb Mount Everest?” applies. Because it’s there.

I am open. I am willing to see what there is to see. To whatever blessed fellow pilgrims I can walk with. To whatever centuries-old sights I can experience.

The heart and soul of what I hope to find, though? I don’t know. I am going because I have been called by something greater than me. I am going because I have answered the call. It is an age-old siren song, the call. Adventurers and pilgrims alike have heard it. And so have farmers and peasants and factory workers. Perhaps you have as well. Some listen. Some go, despite the obstacles of health, finances, and danger. I am one of these.

Why am I going?

Here, then, is the answer.

Lean in, listen closely, and I will tell you why, in a soft voice, a sacred half-whisper.

That is the question, is it not?

Affording the Camino de Santiago – Airfare

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My mother taught me many things that I am grateful for, but how to stretch a dollar is definitely one of the most useful. As such, I zoom for the clearance rack whenever I go clothes shopping, and make sure to research big purchases carefully. Plus, I just like to make my money work for me. Which is why I lurk about the frugal forum at Reddit regularly. The name of one airline kept surfacing: Norwegian Air. I didn’t have to browse around their site for long before I found out why.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Europe a few times in my life and if it’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that it is not exactly inexpensive. Some countries are worse than others (Great Britain, I love you, but you are pricey) but as with anything you really want in life, where there’s a will, there’s a way, even if you’re cash strapped. Airfare tops the list for costs associated with Europe, including walking the Camino de Santiago. If you have more time than money, though, there are ways to squeeze a buck until it screams. And I sure love to hear that sound!

The major cost in airfare is in flying from the US across the Atlantic Ocean. Airfares in general are less expensive to Europe from the East Coast. But bargains can be had from the West Coast, too, as I’ll demonstrate. Europe, like the US, has bargain airlines that you can fly once you are in Europe. So don’t be too picky about your initial destination. Here’s what I booked:

  • Roundtrip airfare from LAX to Copenhagen for ~$400 on Norwegian Airlines (I also purchased travel insurance for $15 so the total is about $419). Norwegian Air has low costs, in general, to Norwegian destinations, namely, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Stockholm. I chose Copenhagen because I’ve heard great things about it and I haven’t been there before. I’ll spend a day or so sightseeing before I continue on.
  • One way trip from Copenhagen to Barcelona on Norwegian Airlines for $71. This gets me fairly close to Roncesvalles, which is where I’ll start my Camino. I will have to purchase a train fare from Barcelona to Roncesvalles, though. It’s around $70 as well. Once I’m there I’ll be ready to start my Camino, which ends in northwestern Spain, at Santiago de Compostela. Then, in order to get home, I booked:
  • One way trip from Santiago de Compostela to London Stansted on Ryan Air for $63.
  • One way trip from London Stansted to Copenhagen on EasyJet for $58.
  • From Copenhagen, I’ll board a flight home on my initial roundtrip ticket.

Simple, right? Well, sort of. I’ll admit, it can be time-consuming to figure all this out. However, it can also be an enjoyable challenge, which is how I viewed it. My flights were more complicated than most due to the nature of the Camino, which involves a 500 mile difference from northeastern Spain to northwestern Spain, but also because I looked outside the box and tried different route combinations for the best fare, especially with my one way trips to Copenhagen.

Is it worth it? My airfares total about $600. Most other people’s airfares from the West Coast run between $1200-$1400. So, yes, I think so.

However, lest I paint too rosy a picture, be aware of these cautions and helpful tips.

  • Be willing to devote some time to the search. It’s a heck of a lot faster – but potentially more expensive – to go through a travel agent or just open up Expedia and choose some flights. While you can get very lucky – especially with a travel agent – there’s no guarantee and if you devote some time to learning the costs associated with traveling you’ll also know a great deal when you see it.
  • Be flexible with your dates. If you haven’t yet chosen a time to do your Camino, be sure to check out sample fares by choosing the “low fare calendar” option on Norwegian Air and other airlines. The “shoulder season” is the time of the year when fewer people are flying, so you can get a better deal. I’m doing my Camino in April and May of this year, as much because of the low airfare as of the weather (I avoid the summer heat whenever possible.)
  • Be willing to purchase tickets in different routes/airlines.
  • Don’t wait. Special fares and sales are fleeting – grab them while you can!
  • Be aware of extra fees. Traveling on budget airlines isn’t always as cheap as it seems. For Norwegian Air, I decided not to pay the $42 fee for meals on my flights to and from Copenhagen. Since I’m backpacking I’m also not checking luggage, another extra fee. I’m also likely to get stuck in the middle seat because I’m not paying for reserved seats. Ryan Air is notorious for charging extra fees, and you would do well to learn the ins and outs of this airline before you fly it. See below for recommended links.
  • Out of the way airports. One way that budget airlines keep costs down is to fly to out of the way airports in major markets. Be sure to check the airports out carefully beforehand. My last two one way flights take me in and out of London Stansted, which is 48 km northeast of London and nowhere near the other airports that serve this destination.

I hope my experience with booking low-cost flights has inspired you to try the same. Be sure to spend time checking out the below links and other advice before you dive in, though.

Recommended Reading

Advertising on Amazon w/ AMS via KDP—Is it Worth it?

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Xina Marie Uhl:

Great analysis of advertising on Amazon.

Originally posted on chrismcmullen:

Images from Shutterstock Images from Shutterstock

MY EXPERIENCE WITH ADVERTISING ON AMAZON

The new option for KDP Select authors to advertise their Kindle e-books with Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) is intriguing.

I have now run 14 different ads through AMS. I’ve also studied the results that several other authors have posted.

Today, I’m sharing some of my preliminary results and offering my thoughts on this critical question:

IS IT WORTH IT?

I’ll also mention a couple of alternative uses of this tool.

CONTENTS

  1. Initial Return on Investment
  2. Estimating Short-term ROI
  3. Your Safe CPC Bid
  4. Advertising Results
  5. Possible Side Benefits
  6. Long-term ROI
  7. Countdown Deals and Freebies
  8. Creative Uses of Book Advertisements

1. INITIAL RETURN ON INVESTMENT

The short-term return on investment (ROI) depends on these factors:

  • your average cost-per-click (CPC) bid
  • the royalty you earn for each sale
  • your sales-per-click (SPC) conversion rate
  • possible side benefits, like selling similar books, like selling print copies…

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Five Fascinating Facts about Victor Hugo

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Five Fascinating Facts about Victor Hugo

Xina Marie Uhl:

A great post! I’m thinking of trying Hugo’s remedy for writer’s block …

Originally posted on Interesting Literature:

Five fun facts about Victor Hugo, the celebrated author of Les Misérables

1. He had an unusual technique for dealing with writer’s block. While he was writing – or trying to write – Les Misérables, Victor Hugo found himself suffering from colygraphia (that’s our suggested technical word for ‘writer’s block’). So he decided to take all his clothes off, take himself off to a room where he had only pen and paper for company, and force himself to write, without even the distraction of clothes to derail him from his task. His servants reportedly had orders that they weren’t to return his clothes to him until he had written something. He worked on Les Misérables for many years, beginning work on it in the 1840s but not finishing it until 1862.

2. The most popular novel among soldiers in the American Civil War was Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Published…

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