Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Dark ages festival of Samhain

 - The summer’s end and coming of darkness -

Tonight we’re celebrating Halloween in our own very modern way with pumpkins, parties and trick or treats galore. But to find the origins of Halloween we have to firstly go back to the early Christian festival of 'All Hallow’s Eve,' celebrated as the night before ‘Hallowmas’ which later became known as All Saints Day. However, did you know that back in the dark ages, before Christianity came to Britain and the period where my story Shadowland takes place, there was also a festival celebrated at this time, and it was known as Samhain, which translates as summer’s end.

Samhain took place on or about the 31st October because it’s the day that falls midway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. To the tribes of dark age Britain, it was the last day of summer and the first day of winter - they only had two seasons.

In the villages, Samhain was a time of preparation for the long hard winter ahead. Last crops, hay and firewood were stored in well thatched huts and cattle brought down from the high summer pastures with those destined to be eaten, slaughtered as part of the Samhain celebration.

On the night of Samhain, two great fires were lit in the middle of the village and before the feasting the returning cattle and the people would walk between the walls of flame in a ritual of cleansing, throwing bones and offerings into the flames as they passed.

The superstitious people of the dark ages saw the night of Samhain and their fires as the time when the doorway to the Shadowland, the land of the spirits, became open and the two worlds would almost becoming one. In the dark ages village, old age was respected for its wisdom and dying was not feared but seen as part of the normal course of life, it was on the night of Samhain when the dead could be spoken to, advice sought and honoured ancestors who had passed into the Shadowland invited to feast with their families and loved ones. It was very auspicious if a child was born on the night of Samhain, for it was known that the child would become a druid or dreamer, one that could commune with the Shadowland.

So while you celebrate Halloween cast your mind back to the dark ages, peak into the Shadowland and take a glimpse of Samhain, it is, after all, your past and maybe you can invite your ancestors to join you!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Analysis of two days FREE on Amazon...

Shadowland was a FREE download on Amazon for two days....

...So how did it go?

I've participated in FREE days on Amazon before and, to be honest, I didn't promote those days very well. I certainly got less than a thousand downloads for my troubles. It did lead to an upturn in sales for a week or so after and I got a bunch of nice reviews, 25 so far with a 4.3 average which I'm delighted with.

However, for this return to offering my treasured book for FREE... the book I sweated over for more than a year before letting it lose into the world, I decided that if I was going to do it, then I would go for as many downloads as I could.

I Got 8,403 downloads in two days!

Well that made me happy! Most, 7,269, were in the US with a further 1,066 being in my native UK. I'm now watching to see how and if this translates into paid sales and more reviews... I shall keep you informed.

So how did I get so many downloads? 

I sent details of the free days to several websites and blogs that I am listing below. Most require a few days or even several weeks notice so it takes a little planning but if you're after downloads it's worth it.

I found the best sites to contact are:

If you are going to offer  your work for free, then good luck and may the reviews be with you!


 After two weeks I can report that I have had 172 paid sales since the FREE days, which I am delighted with. Unfortunatly, there have, so far, only been three reviews after those two weeks which may be because people have downloaded and not got to the book yet, or that downloaders as a majority delight in free books but feel no need to leave a review (I do request people to write a review in the back of the book) or it is still early days. We shall see....