El Señor & Seville, Spain–learning to trust and obey

It is the beginning of the fourth week of Easter and the beginning of my fourth week in Spain. In the months leading up to my trip, a dear Camino friend from Brazil had asked me to meet her in Seville before I was due to serve pilgrims on El Camino de Santiago in Viana at a place called The Pilgrims’ Oasis, also known as The Chill Café, a sort of living room for pilgrims in need of relaxation, a beer, tea or coffee and a place of peace where they can discuss spiritual questions and things that are important to them. I said yes.

Pulpo (Octopus) one of the foods that helped me walk across Spain
Pulpo (Octopus) one of the foods that helped me walk across Spain

We were very excited to catch up post-Camino, hear about each other’s lives, eat lots of Pulpo and drink Rioja. In the flurry of activity that included storing all my worldly possessions and heading out into the world again, I once again (see this post) forgot about Easter.

Tatianna and me sharing Rioja & Pulpo
Tatianna and me sharing Rioja & Pulpo

This trip nearly didn’t happen. So much had occurred to convince me to stay in the U.S., that traveling to Spain under the circumstances was impossible––irresponsible even––this added to my lack of concern and preparation for the first leg of my time in Spain. My friend Tatianna sent me messages saying things like Semana Santa is a “big deal” in Seville. Semana Santa rung a bell somewhere, but not a very loud one. “Que paso es que la ciudad tiene un tradición muy antigua de fiesta en semana santa y por eso la ciudad está bastane llena.” Which is to say that the city has an ancient festival tradition and because of this the city was rather full of people. Sensing how ill-prepared I was for the journey, Tatianna got a room for me at her place, a school where she was studying Spanish in the center of the city. She said we could share a room if needs be. Grateful, but still clueless, I figured Seville was a big “Spring Break” town for Spaniards.

The chocolate Easter bunny I received on my Lufthansa to Frankfurt.
The chocolate Easter bunny I received on my Lufthansa flight from LA to Frankfurt.

Other than Easter in Nepal, my Easter celebrations involved making big meals for family, attending church, and contemplating that Jesus died for me. My celebrations revolved around Easter eggs, picnics and seeing wildflowers in bloom. Some years it included Spring Break trips, laying on beaches and basking in the season of new life and wonder. But as El Señor (Español for God) and I have been on a year of adventure (I’m guessing it might be more like a lifetime now), He’d take me by the hand into one of the world’s largest, breathtaking ancient Easter celebrations.

Exhausted, the whole process of leaving LA was riddled with long delays. I asked El Señor what he wanted to teach me in all the waiting. Almost immediately he gave me a reply…

What answered prayer looked like
What answered prayer looks like

The day before I left, while sitting at a stop sign the black Cadillac in front of me with dark tinted windows had a black California license plate with “PSALM20,” written in gold letters. On my drive to the airport a gold sign fastened to a freeway overpass read “ASK JESUS FOR MERCY,” in black letters. I immediately did and thanked El Señor for color coding his messages and placing them front-and-center the way He had. I humbly thanked Him for the ability to make the journey. If I paid attention, El Señor was everywhere and apparently enjoyed giving me messages in black and gold, the colors of my sorority and the colors of my childrens’ high school. And, because He is equally playful and efficient, He made the most of my time in LA traffic.

"I know who I am and who I may be, if I choose." - Don Quixote
“I know who I am and who I may be, if I choose.” – Don Quixote

Nothing is more important to me than to trust and obey El Señor. And yet I find it so difficult in practice. On good days, following His call feels exactly right and I am at peace. But on the difficult days––and there were many before I left California––His call seemed self-indulgent, irresponsible, and even flighty. These lies nearly kept me from boarding the plane. After take off I read my copy of Don Quixote, a classic story about an idealist heading out into the world. On the 400th anniversary of Cervantes death it seemed like perfect reading, even as it weighed in at 920 pages. One day I hope to read it in Spanish.

I figured I’d catch a train to Seville. No big deal. I’d been a pilgrim. I was good at last minute travel. Then I got the WhatsApp message in Frankfurt…

On my layover in Frankfort...
On my layover in Frankfort…

“Watch out” because the trains could be full. Tatianna suggested if I had time at the airport in Frankfurt that I check the available tickets from Madrid to Seville. A quick search found every train ticket to Seville sold out. The buses weren’t running. After calling a few rental agencies I reserved a car. I flew into a very cold and overcast Madrid and as I stepped into the rental car for a God-knows-how-long drive to Seville after a nearly 24-hour trip to Spain by plane, I guess I should have been daunted when Google Maps navigated the five hour trip. Instead, I couldn’t wait to drive through storied Andalucia to Seville. With no traffic at all, I passed cities I’d only seen in movies or read about––Toledo, Trujillo, Mérida on the Camino de Plata (Silver), all bathed in tangerines, pinks and purples of the setting sun. El Señor indeed had mercy on me and provided for me in amazing ways. Again. Still, on the drive down I wondered…why Seville? I had only been called there on the spur of the moment as my plans had changed at the last minute. What was there that El Señor was calling me to?

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The exhilaration of driving through Seville’s ancient city walls with Siri guiding me through crowds of impeccably dressed faithful contracting its already narrow, cobblestone streets. After pulling into the perfect parking spot, I met Tatianna on foot at the front door of my home for the holiday, Enforex housing for students studying the Spanish language (enforex.com). My hosts let me bunk with them for free when they found out I’d be serving pilgrims on El Camino––another of El Señor’s great provisions. It was no coincidence that I drove into ground zero for the Easter celebration and even less of a coincidence that after lots of catching up over pulpo & Rioja, Tatianna and I met one of Sevilla’s ancient processions on the most mundane of errands––getting my suitcase out of my car.

I couldn’t help but think how I would never see this type of pageantry to celebrate the life of Christ in America. Where I’ve had to be careful wishing people Merry Christmas, and often times default to a “Happy Holiday” greeting so as not to offend. In the country where “In God We Trust” is written on every coin and every dollar bill. There is much work to be done for El Señor in Spain, that is certain. But this beautiful moment of worship gave me perspective on the things I’ve settled for in my faith and where I hope to take it. Will you join me?

PSALM 20:

1May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;

may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

2May he send you help from the sanctuary

and grant you support from Zion.

3May he remember all your sacrifices

and accept your burnt offerings.

4May he give you the desire of your heart

and make all your plans succeed.

5May we shout for joy over your victory

and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

6Now this I know:

The Lord gives victory to his anointed.

He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary

with the victorious power of his right hand.

7Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

8They are brought to their knees and fall,

but we rise up and stand firm.

9Lord, give victory to the king!

Answer us when we call!

More thankful this Thanksgiving than any other

Borobudur February 2014
Borobudur February 2014

 

I sit at the fire pit where I first met him. The magic that night undeniable. There is no such magic tonight. I give a big smile to the flames and the memory and wonder why love disappears.

The asking takes me back to Bali. Why is not a spiritual question Laura, my healer reminds me.

For certain.

Flames reflect in the empty glasses friends drank from while chatting and flirting. Empty Glass the name of one of his favorite albums.

The man I thought he was would never hurt me in this way. I try to shrug off memories of what never was by admiring beautiful, wide-eyed young couples and say a silent prayer. Lord, watch over them so they never wake up wondering where a lifetime of their love went. As well as their youth.

What to do with the truth?

Perhaps it would have been better to sit at the edge of the Grand Canyon with a paper bag over my head. Denial has its place.

But, no. I was given life to live it. To risk, to love fully, to experience pleasure and pain and live authentically. In the firelight I find I’ve not only survived, I’ve thrived and discover I’m more thankful this Thanksgiving than any other.

In deep gratitude I give thanks for my strong, beautiful daughters, friends, a family which expanded this year to include people all over the world, the grace of God, my trust in the unknown, faith over fear, and wisdom which has given me peace.

A woman joins me at the fire pit. Asks where everyone went. Wonders if I’m alone.

I know now that I’m never alone, even when I appear to be.

She says she lost a diamond ring but “it’s no big deal.” With a laugh she says she’s also lost her husband.

I smile and mention that’s a bigger problem.

She says she isn’t worried.

She fans the fingers of her left hand and points to her ring finger to what she says is a four-carat diamond ring and adds of the two it’s “the ring that really matters.”

We search the sand beside the fire pit for her “no big deal” missing diamond ring. His words still so clear in my memory, I always took my ring off when I was with other women.

She gives up on the search and we say our goodbyes. And there’s this part of me that wants to find the ring she so easily gave up on.

How to make a book trailer

The Birth Of a Book Trailer

I knew I needed a book trailer to help promote my debut YA novel Winnemucca. First of all, I love movies. Heck, I live in Los Angeles. And, I worked in the entertainment industry. I knew the power of the trailer. Plus, how much fun would making my own trailer be?

But still, I didn’t know how to make one. Hmmm. I’d incorporated videos in my designs for years at E! Entertainment Television and at The Los Angeles Times. But they were provided to me by amazing teams of award winning videographers. And the photos I worked with were shot by Pulitzer Prize winning photographers. Who did I think I was trying to do this all on my own?

Well, that’s the best part. We aren’t on our own! Writers are some of the most generous people. And so I kept my eye open for trailers that I loved. Enter the wonderful writer Rebecca Rasmussen [@birdsisters] author of The Bird Sisterspublished by Crown/Random House. I was surprised to find out she made her own trailer. Rebecca was very generous with her support and advise. Thanks Rebecca!

So after a load of conversations I managed to conjure up a recipe for book trailers:

  • iMovie application.
  • A killer soundtrack.
  • stock videos.
  • stock photography.

and WaaaaLaaa! You have your book trailer.

A Recipe For Book Trailers

iMovie is a very easy application to work with. It’s drag and drop so no worries there. And it comes with every Mac.

A killer soundtrack is so important. I don’t mind book trailers where the author reads their work. There is something very pure about that. But, like I said, I love movies. Music that evokes your story is compelling and can draw a viewer into the trailer in a unique way. I used www.productiontrax.com. Most of the audio clips are very reasonable priced. [I splurged on this and purchased sound for $60 because I loved it and am a music junkie.]

Stock Videos. I’ve seen a lot of trailers that try to tell the story with static images and scrolling or rolling text. It’s a great effect. But, the medium is meant for video. And, if you don’t have any that you’ve shot yourself, stock video sites are great ways to add some punch to your trailer. Sites I like include istockphoto.com andpond5.com. Both have great selections and great ways to save multiple videos for your consideration so if you are busy, like who isn’t, you can come back later and make your final cut. Again, most videos are very reasonably priced, but watch it, some aren’t. And don’t worry if your video has a soundtrack with it. iMovie let’s you separate the audio channel out and you can use whatever audio you want with any video. My average purchase for a video was $15.

Stock Photography. I use the same sites I recommended above to find images for book covers and for book trailers. Again, stock photography is reasonably priced. But be sure you check prices.

As always, have a budget in mind and stick to it, mine was under $90. It’s really important to get the word out about your book, but what’s more important is how much fun you have doing it!

The Book Trailer

Winnemucca is a young-adult small-town fairy tale about a teenage girl awakening to her own intuition on an enchanted road trip. One lie will change Ginny’s life forever. The truth will will set her free.

Over To You

Did I miss anything? Do you have any tips or tricks from making your own book trailers? If you have anything to add to this article, or even just want to share your own book trailers, then please add it to the comments below…

Monday Muse : The beach, Transfer Student, Moon Killers & only in LA….

Joe outside the cottage
Joe outside our cottage
Our place in Malibu reminded us of Echo Park
The cottage in Malibu reminded us of our first house in Echo Park

Continue reading Monday Muse : The beach, Transfer Student, Moon Killers & only in LA….

Tasty Thursday: Los Angeles, food & romance

For those of you who don’t know, champagne is my favorite drink. And this seems brilliant! I’ve never tried making champagne ice cubes, but I will have to very soon 🙂

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and what screams Love like a wonderful, romantic meal? I hope you all get a chance to sit down with the one you love this Valentine’s Day. Spoil yourself. Splurge a little. Do something out of the box.

I’m on my way to Los Angeles. It’s where I lived as a newlywed. There are so many friends I’m excited to see & lots of food to eat too 🙂 Here’s a couple places on my list : El Chavo’s (best margaritas on the planet & awesome posters of Dolly Parton too!) & the Tiki Ti (yes, I’d like one electric lemonade please). If you’re in LA these are a MUST! I’m going to be writing with a bunch of friends this week. Hoping to make lots of progress on Moon Killers, book 3 in the Shadow Series. An excerpt from Moon Killers is going to be featured at Indie Author Month this Monday with a cover reveal later this month! Click here to get all the details! On a side note, I’m very excited to be a best-selling author this week. Winnemucca, a small-town fairy tale hit #1 in three different Amazon categories this week. #squeeeeee. Time to pop the champagne 🙂

Got any Valentine’s Day/romantic dinner recipes? I’d love to know what they are?

What does Transfer Student, Batman & Back To The Future have in common?

The setting for the transfer! The Griffith Observatory lies in Griffith Park in the heart of Los Angeles. Griffith Park is the one of the most filmed locations in LA. In 2010 there was filming 340 days of the year. We’ve had birthday parties there and love the merry-go-round too. I thought it might be fun today to show a few clips and share some links of the movies shot here.

Today the tour visits ME & READING – EXCERPT  &  STACEY WALLCE BENEFIEL, AUTHOR OF THE ZELLE WELLS TRILOGY! ENTER TO WIN AN EBOOK OF TRANSFER STUDENT ON INGA OR STACEY’S BLOG! 2 WINNERS TODAY! EVERY COMMENT IS ENTERED TO WIN THIS WEEK’S SWAG!

I’ll announce today’s ebook winner by noon PST! Only 5 days until Transfer Student! SQUUEEE!

Continue reading What does Transfer Student, Batman & Back To The Future have in common?

Transfer Student Blog Tour & EBOOK/SWAG GVWY: Want some fries with that?

Let's grab a burger just like Rhoe & Tiffany do in the book...well, not EXACTLY like they do. You really don't want to drive like an alien who's JUST learning.
I'll have some animal fries! YUM!

Continue reading Transfer Student Blog Tour & EBOOK/SWAG GVWY: Want some fries with that?