Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Book Sale Plan Worth Millions

MCS BLOG 4A publicist for James Patterson said, “A lot of authors are just grateful to be published. Not Jim. His attitude was that we were in business together and he wanted us both to succeed, but it was not going to be fun and games.”
Patterson became successful because he treated his book like a product and he wasn’t going to wait around for the publisher to get him noticed.
Keys to Success
Based on the James Patterson approach, here are some keys to his success. Keep in mind that this was his philosophy to become successful, which means he didn’t have much money at the time.
Patterson writes simple books.
Patterson doesn’t consider himself an author, so much as he thinks of himself as an entertainer. He wanted to write books that people would notice right away and be able to read with ease.
Patters said, “I don’t believe in showing off. Showing off can get in the way of a good story.”
Here are some tips based on the Patterson approach.
~ Shiny book covers with big, bold, and colorful lettering. Also, titles that are similar to nursery rhymes. (Pop Goes the Weasel!) Patterson knew that these type of book covers would catch the attention of his target audience. Also, his potential readers would subconsciously think the book would be easy and fun to read.
~ As for writing, he uses limited description, limited backstory, limited scene setting and more focus on the action.
~ Simple words and easy to understand sentences.
~ Short chapters. This means chapters that are 3 or 4 pages.
~ Short paragraphs; usually 1-4 lines.
~ Most importantly, Patterson believed in a thorough understanding of what readers want the most. He never believed in writing for himself.
Patterson researched the best markets to sell books.
There were specific cities that Patterson could sell more books and specific cities that Stephen King and Dean Koontz sold books. Patterson didn’t want to compete with them, but rather market in cities that he could be the most successful.
Patterson increased his fan base systematically. He didn’t focus on marketing in the biggest cities in the United States. Instead he focused on cities where his books would sell the best.
What cities are the best? Here’s what you can do…
~ Research cities that have a large population of people who would be interested in your genre and storyline.
For example, romantic books with a “Love comes first” theme would do well in Hilo, Hawaii and Gardena, California.
Books with a sad/dramatic ending would do well in Ottawa, Ohio and Ferdinand, Indiana.
How do I know this? Market research.
~ Research cities with a large population of mid-high income levels. Studies have shown that higher income families purchase more books than lower income families.
~ Research cities with a large population of high education rates. Studies have shown that higher educated people will purchase more books than lower educated people.
(If you don’t want to spend time doing the research, there’s an easier way. See below.)
Patterson used one advertising idea in cities that he researched.
Patterson preferred low budget television commercials.
For his first book, Along Came a Spider, Patterson wrote and produced a commercial and funded it with what little money he had left. He wanted something simple, powerful, and related to his thriller genre.
Patterson then launched the commercial in specific markets which he would have the most success. Based on his market research, he chose three cities: Chicago, New York, and Washington.
The commercial opened with a spider dropping down the screen and closed with a voiceover that said, “You can stop waiting for the next Silence of the Lambs.”
The result was that Patterson’s book, Along Came a Spider, sold millions of copies.
Patterson needed his books in the front of stores.
This can only happen with proven success. Patterson focused on the above items first, then turned his attention to getting his books in the front of stores.
It’s encouraging to know that Patterson became successful using limited funding. He worked on a marketing approach that would give him the best opportunities. Also, he didn’t depend on a publisher for his success.
Patterson admits that if he didn’t take this approach, he would’ve been just another thriller writer that was grouped with thousands of others who were struggling to be noticed.
Use the same techniques that James Patterson used by starting with one book that you think has the best chance to succeed.
Hopefully, I’ll be writing about you someday…
Ron Knight
AMP up your book sales by knowing which cities are best for you! www.AuthorsMarketingPro.com
Free marketing tips! Join the 4,000 writers that follow UP Authors!
https://www.facebook.com/upauthors?ref_type=bookmark
Need more tips and advice? Sign up for the UP Authors Newsletter! www.upauthors.com
Email: authorronknight@aol.com


Ron Knight





Posted by Maggie Tideswell, paranormal romance author of Dark Moon and Moragh, Holly's Ghost. Both books are available in paperback, ebook and audio formats from Amazon here:

Also available from Barnes & Noble, kalahari.net and many other fine stores.







Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Which is Better: Traditional Publishing or Self-Publishing?

MCS BLOG 11Traditional publishing has a marketing plan that they’ve been using for 80 years. They invest their marketing dollars in specific areas and will continue to stick with that trend.
Marketing the Traditional Way:
~ Target Market Research
~ Book Conferences
~ Events
~ Book Signings
~ Placement of books in big box stores
~ Placement in bookstores, both chain and local (Especially bookstores that report numbers to the Bestsellers List)
~ Placement of books on the end-caps of bookstores and big box stores
~ Media Coverage
~ Advertisements (Billboards, Newspapers, Commercials, Movie Theatres)
~ Press Kits
~ Book Reviews
~ Reading Samples/Serialization
~ Speaking Engagements
~ Film Adaptation
Traditional publishers weren’t in a rush to switch from print books to eBooks. In fact, many traditional authors own the rights to their eBooks and the publisher owns the rights to the printed books.
As social media and eBooks became a new fad that anyone can do, people started calling traditional publishers “dinosaurs” and complained that traditional ways were dying. Authors decided to go on their own.
Marketing the Self-Published Way:
~ Website
~ Facebook Profile/Page
~ Twitter
~ Other Social Media
~ Blogging
~ SEO (Getting noticed on Google)
~ Local Events
10 years ago, self-published authors needed guidance from literary agents, publicists, and traditional publishers. But now, self-published authors are confident that they understand marketing trends and can discard the “traditional” ways of marketing.
Publishing Facts:
~ 32 million books are in print.
~ 56,000 eBooks are released every 30 days.
To get noticed by readers, which marketing strategy should you use? The traditional model or self-published model?
The answer is to pull from the ideas of both traditional and self-publishing and create the perfect marketing campaign that’s unique for YOU. (Untraditional Publishing)
Facts about traditional publishing and self-publishing.
Fact One: Traditional publishing doesn’t put a lot of stock into eBooks, because 46% of readers prefer printed books and 6% of readers prefer eBooks. Traditional publishers would rather eBooks sell more because the cost to produce and distribute eBooks are low, but readers are buying printed books, so that’s where to invest the money.
Lesson: Use eBooks to “test” the value of your book, then invest in printing your best books.
Fact Two: Social media is a great way to keep in touch with current reading fans, but not a way to gain new readers. Target marketing and direct marketing are the most effective ways to sell products, which includes books.
Lesson: Before James Patterson was making millions, he researched which cities his books would sell the most and focused his own money on marketing in those cities. He also stayed away from cities that authors like John Grisham and Stephen King were dominating. This logic saved Patterson time and money while increasing his book sales.
Fact Three: Publishers and authors can’t succeed on their own.
Lesson: The reason publishers hire marketing specialists and sign authors is because that’s what they need to run a successful business. The reason self-published authors don’t want to do all the marketing that traditional publishers are doing, is because it’s time consuming and expensive. However, self-published authors can use some of the traditional marketing technics to succeed without spending a ton of time and money.
You can succeed by using both traditional and self-publishing methods.
Untraditional Publishing Marketing Plan
~ Use eBooks to test the value of your books, then print the most popular books.
~ Hire someone to help with marketing. Start off with a budget of $30 a month and work your way up to a budget of $250 a month, then $500 a month as book sales increase. (www.authorsmarketingpro.com) Make sure to compare the value of different marketing companies.
~ Target research, advertising, and direct marketing are the best approaches to gain new readers in different cities. (There are two blogs to understand this better: http://www.upauthors.com/comparing-readers-in-different-cities-2/ and http://www.upauthors.com/comparing-readers-in-different-cities/ )
~ Website, social media, and blogging are the best ways to build a relationship with your current readers.
“Authors place limitations on their career when they consider the importance of who they are, rather than who they can become.” ~ Ron Knight
AMP up your book sales by knowing which cities are best for you! www.AuthorsMarketingPro.com
Free marketing tips! Join the 3,900 writers that follow UP Authors!
https://www.facebook.com/upauthors?ref_type=bookmark
Need more tips and advice? Sign up for the UP Authors Newsletter! www.upauthors.com
Email: authorronknight@aol.com
Ron Knight
Facebook Twitter



Posted by Maggie Tideswell, paranormal romance author of Dark Moon and Moragh, Holly's Ghost. Both books are available in paperback, ebook and audio formats from Amazon here:

Also available from Barnes & Noble, kalahari.net and many other fine stores.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Making your home town sound exotic




by Annalisa Crawford
A long, long time ago, I wrote short stories - practically flash fiction before the term had been properly coined. (I am so ahead of my time!) Because they were short, I never had to worry about settings or places... I told the story and left the reader agog (well, my ego tells me I did).

Much later, I read a book set in New Orleans. The description of the city was lush and tangible, it oozed from the page and wrapped itself around me. And I thought how lucky the author was to have such wonderfully exotic surroundings to inspire him. I wish I had that, I thought.

But, wait a minute! I bet, if you're late for work, and you've been up all night with a sick pet or screaming child, and you've run out of milk for your first coffee, that great city doesn't feel quite as exotic.

I read the book again (as I often do), and actually had the same thought process again, only this time I wondered whether any city or town could sound exotic to someone who had never been there. Could my town sound exotic?

The pub from Our Beautiful Child
 was built in 1595
At the time I was playing around with a story that would be included in my collection Our Beautiful Child, although I didn't know it yet. I made a couple of subtle changes and lo! My story was now set firmly in my home town. I used my old local pub as the backdrop,

The river opposite was perfect for my needs; the bridge further along was again ideal as the bridge where several tragic things happen.

But once I started writing the other two stories in the collection, I realised I needed things that simply don't exist in my town - like a town square and a large imposing hotel on a hill. So, slowly, I started to move things around, and borrow a couple of things from other local towns (it's okay, I put them back later).

And I omitted the largest claim to fame that we have... Brunel's final masterpiece...

The Royal Albert Bridge
I've got the bug now, though. My - hopefully - next-to-be-published book is set in the neighbouring city, and this time I've kept all the things I love about it. There's a lighthouse and a 'wedding cake', a concrete beach and the most amazing view in the world. I'm determined to make my home town and city sound just as amazing as New Orleans!

How to make your town sound exotic:
  • focus on the tiny details, such as the sounds you can hear. I never realised how half the town can hear the trains, the other half can hear the dual carriageway, and everyone can hear the fog horns from the boats on the river.
  • check out the history of your town. You might be able to use it to make your prose richer or use an historic building as a backdrop.
  • see your town as a new visitor would. Take a long walk, and take out-of-context photos, look closely at the engravings on older buildings. Note the dates on houses and try to envision what your town would have looked like ten/twenty/a hundred years ago.
  • share the quirky or unique things about your town. We have a guy who dresses up as Sir Francis Drake and wanders the streets with his wife (dressed as Drake's wife). He has subsequently become our town cryer. We also have a life sized, talking model of Ann Glanville, a local gig rower who became a Victorian celebrity.
Me and Ann




















About Annalisa Crawford

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat.

Crawford writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, with a hint of the paranormal. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and published her first book, Cat and The Dreamer in 2012.

Find Annalisa here:

Posted by Maggie Tideswell, paranormal romance author of Dark Moon and Moragh, Holly's Ghost. Both books are available in paperback, ebook and audio formats from Amazon here:

Also available from Barnes & Noble, kalahari.net and many other fine stores.





Monday, November 17, 2014

Where Jarred's Wife Died

When Tragedy Struck

by Maggie Tideswell

When Storm met Jarred that day on the beach, he had been a widower for about a year. He had many unanswered questions, and he blamed Marian, his wife for killing their unborn baby. She had taken an unnecessary risk in skiing that day.

And the painful question that had tortured Jarred since Marian's death: why had she not told him that she was pregnant?

Marian had been the love of his life. She had loved life. An excellent skier, she should not have died. Her death had been a freak accident.

But she should have told him that he was about to become a father.
He would have kept her safe, and that meant off the water. That was why she never told him. She had been willful and selfish.

Beautiful picture by Nicole @FireflyAfrica
They had gone out that day in high spirits. Jarred was scheduled to go away again in his line of duty - he was an officer in the South African navy, remember. Nobody could have foreseen the tragedy that would end the life of a young woman, least of all Marian herslf.

Marian was skiing when a wall of water swept down the gorge, directly towards them. Jarred was helpless to get them out of the way in time. This is a picture of the Storm River, taken by Nicole in 2006 (@FireflyArica). Marian's body was found days later. By then she had not been a pretty sight.

Jarred at first blamed himself for her tragic death. It had been his duty and honor to protect his wife and he had failed her. But over time he realized that if anybody had been to blame, it had been Marian herself. It left him with a solid anger at Marion, and a distrust of women in general. Until he met Storm.

After a year of mourning her, Jarred met Storm and he started living again. And when he found out that she was having his baby, he would not rest until he convinced her to marry him. One can understand why he was so protective of Storm and so anti Trevor when one knows his background and the loss he felt when his unborn child died. Storm, of course, didn't know and she was not that easy to sway for reasons of her own. For one, she was very angry with Jarred. But that is a story for another day.

Read the full story of Jarred and Storm in Dark Moon by Maggie Tideswell, available in paperback, ebook and audio format from Amazon here: http://tinyurl.com/nrazssk

Maggie Tideswell

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How to Edit a Difficult Project


By Karen Cole

The job of a ghost writer (or anyone else who writes) is to create brilliantly written copy. Today’s book market won’t stand for anything else, even if the original material is creative and full of new, interesting ideas. Presentation is still very important, so you should know how to edit properly and with professional presence, style and sophistication. But sometimes, your material can be something of a nightmare or otherwise unwieldy and difficult to work with – don’t despair, there are ways!
When facing a huge manuscript that obviously needs to be pared down sizably, the first thing a ghost writer should do is ask the original author or client what he or she wants to see used in the manuscript primarily, and what needs to be removed. It helps to take out any excessive, redundant material, but as in all cases, communication with the client is crucial. 
You need to ask them what they want to see in the newly edited manuscript – tighter writing, more of a plot line, new characters, how they might like to see it reworked, etc.
It’s your job as the editor/ghost writer to go through the manuscript, and yes, although it may be a lot of work, going through everything (including any separate notes) is needed; but you must also decide for yourself what constitutes excess material. Fortunately, you can usually just read through everything once, make some liner notes yourself, and then begin the process of culling out unneeded material. If you make ample notes as you go: “Needs more drama throughout entire scene,” etc. you will have no problems in going back and editing what’s needed where it’s needed.
Meanwhile, what if the author client didn’t make an outline, or the outline or notes are a huge, misguided mess? Well, in all cases, again communication is paramount. You can’t read minds or do too much guesswork. Over time, I’ve found that most authors can write an outline and the general ideas in their notes so that I don’t have to worry; but sometimes people are a bit scatterbrained and need some direction. A phone call is best here, with plenty of discussion about what they want to see in the book and what can be safely removed without the author crying, “My baby! What did you do to my baby?”
Messy notes are really not as big of a deal as insufficient notes. You need to know where the book is going to stand, so if you have a lot of messy notes, going through them helps, as long as they are legible. I always ask my clients to send me their notes in Word 2007 or later. Handwritten notes can be a true nightmare; you don’t want to have to deal with those. 
As for the first draft, if the client can get you one of those – wonderful! It helps to have a first draft, even if it’s sprawling and messy, so you know basically what you’re working from and how to begin to go about dealing with it. Your job is to whip it all into shape for the second and final drafts. You may be adding background material, researching the material the author client included, asking the author to write about permission to use cited materials from other people’s works, etc.
Whatever you do, maintain constant contact with the client, sending along the installments of the work as you go. And don’t despair; if everything is sprawling, messy and excessive, that’s the very reason the client hired you to write for them in the first place. So it’s your job to get it all down to a dull roar, and then to rework it into something that might hit the best seller lists.
Posted by Maggie Tideswell, paranormal romance author of Dark Moon and Moragh, Holly's Ghost, both available from amazon in paperback, ebook and audio formats here:


Maggie Tideswell
 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Interview with Markie Madden

Tell me a little about yourself, Markie, like where you live, if you have a 'real' job, children, pets, that sort of thing


I live in the very small Missouri town of Fisk (population 326), in what we call the Bootheel (the little Southeastern tip between Arkansas and Kentucky/Tennessee). I had a real job before cancer (manager at Auto Zone), but I've been unable to return since I'm still in recovery. I've been married (to the same man!) for 20 years and we have two teenage daughters. Rounding out the family are three rescue dogs and my horse, Athena, who's featured on the cover of Keeping a Backyard Horse.

What is you latest book about? What inspired you to write it and where did you get the ideas for the plot and characters?

All my books came out at pretty much the same time, so I'll tell you about My Butterfly Cancer. 20% of my sales are pledge to cancer charities. It's the shockingly raw and honest memoir of my battle with leukemia. I use the theory of the butterfly effect (a butterfly flaps its wings in China, causes a hurricane in Florida) to explain the avalanche that started with my diagnosis and culminated in my becoming self-published. I hope to inspire people with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. I plan to donate several copies to the hospital wing where I stayed, as well as some audiobook copies, which should be ready next month. 

When did your book come out and where can readers find it?

All my books came out in September 2014, except Once Upon a Western Way, which was published in digital format in 2012. They can be found in print at Amazon and CreateSpace, and at the moment, they are Kindle exclusives.

What distinguishes your book/plot/characters from others? Don't give anything away, but what's the 'hook' that will draw the readers to your book?

My memoir, as I mentioned before, is shockingly honest. I didn't balk even when explaining how the nurses had to wipe my butt! And Keeping a Backyard Horse is different from other horse care guides because it's narrated by my horse and filled with humorous anecdotes. 

What would your readers take away from your book? What emotions and thoughts do you hope to evoke?

I'd love my readers to be inspired, educated, or entertained by my work. My purpose in writing Backyard Horse was to help prevent accidental neglect of horses through owner ignorance (they're not exactly as easy to keep as dogs or cats!).

Are you planning a sequel, or another book?

I have two books in process right now. Triple Heist is a crime novel involving Allison, head of security at the Federal Reserve bank. She and sometime lover Josh are planning to rob the bank of millions! And Fang and Claw is book one of the Undead Unit series. In a world where supernatural beings are living and working among humans, Lacey is a detective with the Dallas police department. She's also a Vampire. She's been put in charge of newly-formed squad called the Undead Unit, elite officers to investigate crimes among the Undead. Her partner, Colton, is a Werewolf, descendent of the pack that decimated Lacey's coven hundreds of years ago. Can they work together?

What genre do you place your book in?

I have two non-fiction, and Once Upon a Western Way is romantic fantasy with a touch of the paranormal and scifi. Princes and kings and epic love.

How did you publish? Are you independent, or do you have a publisher?

All my books are independently published through CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, and Smashwords. Once released, the audiobook formats will be produced through Audiobook.Creation Exchange (and available through Audible and iTunes).

What is your marketing plan? Do you use social media to help you? Do you have ideas for marketing you'd like to share?

I don't have a "day" job, but I spend hours advertising through social media. On occassion I use paid ads through Facebook and Twitter. I also organized an author blog interview exchange, and run periodic contests on Facebook and Twitter. I have a book signing in early January of next year in my local Hastings book store, and I plan to expand on book signings next year. 

Are you a member of any writing/reading groups like Shelfari, Goodreads, Scribophile?

I'm on GoodReads, Shelfari, and online writers group Scribophile. 

What other links would you like me to post?

Twitter @naddya81975 
I'm also on LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest, all under my name Marguerite Madden. I'm still new enough to these that I'm not sure how to find my user name. Books (and these will automatically direct users anywhere in the world to their proper Amazon store): My Butterfly Cancer: http://geni.us/3Xdr Keeping a Backyard Horse: http://geni.us/47ot Omce Upon a Western Way: http://geni.us/26Fb
Marguerite Madden
 



Monday, November 3, 2014

Holly's World - The Winelands, Holly's New Home





www.sawn.co.za

'I shall just have to get you pregnant and keep you forever.'

This is where Joshua brought Holly after they were married in Cape Town. Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, the fertile green valleys of the Cape Winelands are surrounded by proud mountain ranges, and is dotted with towns and villages.

Joshua was a winemaker in this area, his estate called Fairley. The land had been in his family for generations. Unlike Willowgrove, the neighboring wine estate, home of Magnus and Pearl Jones and their daughter Nicole. Willowgrove was in its first generation, started and built up single-handedly by Magnus Jones. Nicole was Joshua's fiancee at the time he married Holly.

Photo © Cape Town Tourism
The Mediterranean climate and winter rainfall of the south-western Cape is perfect for growing 
grapes and this area produce many legendary Cape wines. Many of the vineyards were first planted hundreds of years ago when the first settlers in the Cape Colony started spreading out and putting down roots.

Joshua's house on Fairley was a sprawling Cape Dutch homestead, flanked by the winery and other outbuildings. The Cape Dutch style of building is synonymous with architecture in the Cape. This style was borrowed from places as diverse as mediaeval Holland and Germany, the France of the Huguenots and the islands of Indonesia. The main features of the Cape Dutch style of building were a steeply pitched roof supported by rafters and the enormous ornate gable, one on each end of the house and one in the center.

Holly fell in love with Fairley on first sight. After the wedding, they reached Joshua's home in the early evening, when the shadows were stretching and the house was blazing with light. There was a party going on, although nobody knew that it was Joshua's wedding reception. People in Moragh, Holly's Ghost are always pouring wine and everything became an occasion to raise a glass. The locals of this area consume a lot of wine.

Moragh, Holly's Ghost is the 1st book in the Moragh Haunting Tirlogy and is available in paperback, ebook and audio format from Amazon here:

 Maggie Tideswell


Friday, October 31, 2014

Most Haunted Places In South Africa


Haunted South AfricaSince the beginning of time, people have been fascinated with the supernatural. Whether you believe in ghost stories and haunted houses or not, almost everyone has at least one story of some creepy incident which simply defies any logical explanation.

Cape Town is the oldest city in the country, with many tales of brave pioneers and its fair share of broken hearts and tragedies. It’s only natural then that our Mother City should have a few ghost stories to tell.

Castle of Good Hope

Cape Town
The Castle Of Good Hope is South Africa’s oldest surviving colonial building and possibly one of the most haunted places in South Africa. Having served as both a prison and execution site, it is no wonder than numerous troubled spirits walk these halls.

Castle of Good Hope
Tales tell of an unidentified two meter tall figure that walks the castle’s battlements. Spotted in 1915 and 1947, this semi-luminous spectre was seen over a period of weeks, and it is said that his footsteps can frequently be heard in this part of the castle. Some believe that this is the same ghost who rings the castle’s bell form time to time. The bell in the Bell Tower was walled up centuries ago after a soldier hung himself with the bell-rope.

A black dog is also said to haunt the property and has been known to pounce on visitors and vanish at the last moment.

Other spectres which make the Castle of Good Hope one of the most haunted places in South Africa is Lady Anne Barnard. In the late eighteenth century, Lady Anne lived at the Castle as the colony's First Lady and often entertained important dignitaries. Lady Anne's ghost is said to appear at parties held in honour of important visitors.

Governor Pieter Gysbert van Noodt is another restless spirit in the Castle. Apparently a strict and militant man, he once sentenced four soldiers to die by hanging for desertion. One of the soldiers is said to have cursed him. Later that day, Van Noodt was found dead at his desk, having died of a heart attack and it was rumored that he died at precisely the same time as the soldiers.

Groote Schuur Hospital
Groote Schuur Hospital is believed to be haunted by a number of apparitions. A young nurse shot herself when she contracted a terminal disease during World War Two. She still roams the corridors. A  nursing sister with white eyes apparently also walk around the hospital, as do a young man who fell to his death while trying to escape from the upper floor. A grey lady, named Sister Fatima, tries to help the nursing staff on their rounds.



Tell me your ghost story and I will post it here on my blog. Don't forget the pictures. Please contact me on hessiemt@yahoo.com for details

Posted by Maggie Tideswell, author of paranormal romance novels Dark Moon and Moragh, Holly's Ghost, both available in paperback, ebook and audio formats from Amazon here:



Maggie Tideswell

 


 

 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween - Death is no barrier to love, and every ending brings a new beginning.


In the northern hemisphere, Halloween, an annual celebration on 31 October, is associated with trick-or-treating and dressing up in costumes and scary masks, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires and playing pranks.

But Halloween has its roots far back in time in the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, which literary means 'end of summer'. Hallows or Hallomas started out as a festival to honor the Crone, the wise grandmother. Over the years it has been transformed into wicked old witches flying on broomsticks with black cats. The Celtic name is Samhain -summers end – and is the beginning of the Celtic New Year.

Samhain (pronounced sow-in as in ‘sour’) was the time when the cattle were moved from the summer pastures to winter shelter. It was the end of the growing season, the end of harvest, a time of thanksgiving, when the ancestors and the spirits of the beloved dead would return home to share in the feast. Death did not sever one’s connections with the community. People would leave offerings of food and drink for their loved ones, and set out candles to light their way home. Those traditions gave us many of our present day customs. Now we set out jack-o-lanterns and give offerings of candy to children—who are, after all, the ancestors returning in new forms.

When Christianity spread, they renamed the holiday Halloween, a variation of 'All-Hallows-Even', the night before the Catholic All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day on November 1, which is dedicated to remembering the dead. It was believed that this was an attempt to christianize the Celts.
 
Many symbols became associated with the celebration of Halloween.



Bats:

A common practice among our ancestors at the time of summer's end (Samhain, Oct. 31) was to all insect meal. And so, bats were a common sight at
build tremendously brilliant bonfires. The blaze warded off unfriendly spirits, provided heat and a means of cooking for the harvest feast, etc. The light drewsorts of insects, which in turn drew their natural predators looking for an easy

Halloween-time festivities. Bats are sort of creepy and certain groups thought that the little flying rodents were able to communicate with the dead, but once vampire legends made their way into Halloween folklore, the position of the bat was set. It was thought that vampires could transform into bats and witch hunters were pretty sure that witches could transform into creepy creatures like black cats, bats, and spiders. And as vampire bats only feed on blood, bats became entrenched as  Halloween symbols.



Jack-O-Lanterns:

Represented the souls of the dead.

Originally, they were turnips hollowed out and equipped with candles to light the way of 'guisers' (trick-or-treaters) and beggars roaming about on All Hallow's Eve for a bite to eat or rousting neighbors door-to-door for a donation to their cause. With their mass migration to the United States after the potato famine, the clever Irish replaced their illuminated turnips for more accommodating pumpkins. Carved in various grotesques and ghoulish faces, unfriendly spirits are kept at bay or frightened away entirely.

Various legends speak of the name Jack. An Irishman named 'Stingy Jack, a drunk and a prankster, he managed to make both God and the Devil angry. When he died, neither heaven nor hell wanted him, so he was stuck wandering around on earth.  He carried a turnip, hollowed out, with a candle inside to light his way. The Irish carved scary jack-o-lanterns to put around their houses to keep him away. A tradition was born.


Witches:


 The Witches' Caldron

"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing

For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and babble

Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and caldron bubble"


William Shakespeare

The image of a witch riding her broomstick across a full moon is one of the most traditional Halloween symbols today.
From way back, witches have always been known as supernatural beings. This is the perfect symbol for Halloween since unseen energies are said to be the strongest during this season. Witches are also called when there are messages from unseen forces that need to be interpreted. Witches have through the ages been thought to be tellers of fortune and to cast spells, both good and bad. This frightened many because it was believed that supernatural powers were strongest on Halloween night.

 

I wish everybody a wonderful Halloween!

Maggie Tideswell, paranormal romance author of Dark Moon and Moragh, Holly's Ghost. Both are available in paperback, ebook and audio format from Amazon here:

Also available from Barnes & Noble, kalahari.net and many other fine stores



Maggie Tideswell