Dressing Up for an Eventful Week

I don’t usually write diary-like entries to my blog, but today is going to be an exception, because I’ve had a strange and eventful week, which I’d like to share with all of you. A lot of work, fun, excitement, and dressing up has been going on…

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My daughter and granddaughter, getting ready for Halloween!

Sunday 26th was great! I spent the day with my daughter, her husband, and children at the beach, watching the new generation gradually take over. She used to be my little girl, but now she has two children of her own, a job, a car, a mortgage, just like most adults do…

In the evening, I wrote my blog post on The Truth about Halloween.

Monday was amazing. It was the official opening of the Academic Year at the University where I teach English Language part-time, so I dressed up with the Faculty of Arts (called Philology in Spain) Academic Dress, namely a black robe with a short light blue cape or hood, and tasselled cap (the cap is worn by those with a PhD). I had never worn this gown before, but I thought I’d do so at least once, so that I could show my grandchildren in the future… I did feel rather grand!

Waiting for the ceremony, tassled cap in hand!

Waiting for the ceremony, tasselled cap in hand!

UNED Opening Ceremony in Academic Dress

UNED Opening Ceremony in Academic Dress

On Tuesday, on my way to work, I literally waked through an exhibition, in the Orange Tree Patio in the Cathedral-Mosque in Cordoba, where I admired the sculptures, by a recently deceased, international, Cordoban artist, Aurelio Teno, He’s the one who designed and made the Don Quixote sculpture near the Kennedy Centre in Washington.

Quijote Teno

Don Quijote by Aurelio Teno. Kennedy Center, Washington.

Aurelio Teno Exhibition in Patio de los Naranjos, Cordoba.

Foto taken at Aurelio Teno Exhibition in Patio de los Naranjos, Cordoba, Spain.

I also wrote my blog post on Halloween Festivities in All Hallows at Eyre Hall.

On Wednesday I was busy working all morning and all afternoon, at school and college. We rehearsed Stop all the clocks by W. H. Auden, for a poetry recitation at the Halloween Festivities we’re organising at school.

In the evening, I went shopping for Halloween goodies such as hats, stickers, sweets, and ingredients for Halloween biscuits/cookies, with my grandson.

My grandson, the Wizard!

My grandson, the budding Wizard!

On Thursday morning, I made tons of cookies, for my grandson, my students, and colleagues, before going to work. I work afternoons-evenings evenings on Thursdays.

Scary Cookies made by me!

Scary Cookies made by me!

On Friday, we had our big event at school. I teach at an Adult Education Centre, although we have mostly young adults, under thirty. The three English teachers dressed up as witches, and performed the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in English and Spanish. The students also read poems in Spanish and English, and a beautiful short story by Jorge Bucay.

English Teachers with a cauldron, preparing for their act!

My colleagues and I preparing the cauldron for our act!

Performance of the opening cene of Macbeth with the three witches.

Performance of the opening scene of Macbeth.

Afterwards, we ate all the cakes and biscuits we (students and teachers) had made for the occasion.

Halloween biscuits/cookies and cakes!

Halloween biscuits/cookies and cakes!

In the evening, I wrote my Flash Fiction Story for Flash! Friday, as I do almost every Friday.

This morning, Saturday, 1st November, I woke up to a wonderful surprise. This week, I had scheduled a special reduced price book promotion for All Hallows at Eyre Hall, and as a result of my diverse efforts by using Twitter, Facebook, Blog, word of mouth, some paid promotion on Masquerade Crew, and Ereader news today, I discovered had sold 183 books! More than I’ve sold since my book was published in May. I’m overwhelmed, and very excited.

All Hallows at Eyre Hall: The Breathtaking Sequel to Jane Eyre, has also managed to get into the Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store ranking today in three categories!  Best Sellers Rank #26 on Sagas, #29 in Family Sagas, #41 in Historical Fiction. Overall ranking #727 out of over a million Ebooks! Not bad for a debut novel, which was self-published in May, 2014!

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I’m feeling really proud! Did someone cast a good spell last night? Am I dreaming?

Wow, what a week! Fortunately, they’re not all this exciting or busy, or are they?

My daughter and a friend.

My youngest daughter (at the back) and a friend celebrating Halloween in London, last night.

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What can I say? Dressing up runs in the family! We just love it!

 

By the way, All Hallows at Eyre Hall (international link) is on special offer all over the world for the next few days, £0.77 /$0.99 / €0.89. Please help spread the word. I still have a long way to go, but I couldn’t have got this far without your support. A big thank you!

 

Spine-chilling Characters: The Sin-Eater

One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing historical novels is the investigation process. Searching for those hidden bits of information that make research feel like a treasure hunt!

 All Hallows at Eyre Hall, is a Victorian Gothic Romance, and sequel to Jane Eyre.

It is set on and around Halloween, 1865, in a mysterious gothic mansion in Yorkshire, so naturally it contains some cryptic and ghostly characters.

As we’re coming up to the dakest period of the year, I thought I’d introduce you to one of the most eerie characters I included in the novel, namely, Isac das Junot, the Sin-eater who visits Eyre Hall, on account of Mr. Rochester’s death.

Funeral Customs

Funeral Rites

Origins of Sin-Eaters

The Sin-eater, who was summoned to the bedside of a dead person, is of pre-Christian origin. The dead person’s family placed a tankard of ale containing a coin and a piece of bread on the corpse’s body, which the Sin-eater ate and drank, symbolically taking with him the sins of the deceased, who was thus enabled to continue his journey to afterlife in a sinless manner. He may have made the following short speech at the graveside: “I give easement and rest now to thee, dear man. Come not down the lanes or in our meadows. And for thy peace I pawn my own soul. Amen.”

Most sin-eaters were poor people or homeless beggars, and although they were officially frowned upon by the Church, this macabre tradition was carried out in different parts of the British Isles, including Yorkshire and Wales, until mid-19th century. The last Sin-eater supposedly died in Shropshire, in 1906, said to be the last sin-eater, at least in that county.

The following is an extract of the Sin-eater’s arrival at Eyre Hall in Chapter XXVI of All Hallows at Eyre Hall. Susan, one of the house staff, is narrating.

As I returned into the hall, the heavy front door screeched eerily and a gush of chilled fog came flowing into the hallway. A pounding thump resounded and suddenly out of the dense cloud emerged a faint, dark shadow, which gradually solidified into a human shape, while a breath of frosty wind poured in and enwrapped those of us who were standing in the hallway.
“Mr. Rochester has sent for me.”
His grating voice echoed the words ominously. I heard frightful cries around me. Some of the guests ran into the adjacent rooms, swearing they had heard him say the words three times. Others said he was death, who had come to visit the just dead, and if anyone looked at his eyes they would be taken, too. Within seconds everyone disappeared. I stood alone with him. His glazed eyes stared at the only person who had remained. Nailed to the ground, my back stiffened. His eyes had impaled me. I felt my jaw drop, as he added in a low frosty voice, “I have a message for Mrs. Rochester.”
Someone shouted from inside a room, “No! He has come to take her with him.”
I plucked up the courage to approach him and speak, “I’m afraid Mrs. Rochester cannot see you, sir, but I will take your name, if you please, to inform her of your visit.”
His frozen features set on my face, and I noticed his eyes were red, all red, and his lips mauve. The rest of his face was a cemented gravestone carved with long creases down his flat cheeks, which looked as sharp as flint. His towering black figure was like an unearthly leviathan. My legs were shaking, and I would have run away had I not decided I had to protect Mrs. Rochester from the omen of death.
Disquieting words rang out of his lips, “I am the Sin-eater. I have come to bestow the wisdom of my ancestors upon the cadaver that is laid in this house, so that he may not become an undead.”
I was speechless, motionless, and breathless, as he continued with his foreboding address, “Time is short. His evil deeds have chained him to this world to roam and torment the living until the Last Judgment. I must see him today, or he will never rest, and his soul will wander in anguish around this house and his loved ones.”
Who was this unearthly monster? What did he want? What could I alone do to fend him off? His threats persisted, “I must see Mr. Rochester immediately, or leave his soul to roam in this house until the Day of Judgment.”
I forced myself to breathe in and managed to raise my right hand up to my neck and clutch the tiny cross hanging from a gold chain, the only possession I owned, and mustered all my strength to reply feebly, “Please leave, sir.”
Miraculously, he walked backwards towards the door, gradually devoured by the persistent fog that had accompanied him like an entourage.
“Stop, sir!” I turned to see Simon’s distraught face run up from behind me. I had not seen him during the episode. Someone must have run downstairs and informed him of what was happening.
“Please, wait. I will inform Mrs. Rochester of your presence. Your name, please, sir?”
“Mr. Isac das Junot, from the Netherlands.”
The figure became larger again, as it walked forward, appearing even taller than before. I noticed he wore no hat and his slimy jet black hair was pressed down with a wide middle parting and tied back into a short greasy pigtail.
“Please wait here in the entrance.” The intruder nodded, as Simon continued, “You will be eating and drinking later, I expect.” The unearthly visitor smiled, showing a fistful of teeth, which were as black as his hair.

Mrs. Rochester finally agrees to Junot’s macabre ritual, in spite of the opposition of her friends and family. Why would rational and Christian Jane, acquiesce to such a disgusting ceremony?

There is a simple answer. The Sin-eater not only saves the dying from hell, but also from wandering the earth as a ghost, thereby performing a service for the living as well. Jane knows her husband has died without confessing his sins or repenting to a religious authority, and she is not willing to take the risk of having him haunt her beloved Eyre Hall.

However, Junot is much more than a sinister or pitiable Sin-eater, he is not at Eyre Hall to receive charity, and during his brief visit, he does a great deal more than absorb Rochester’s sins, but I can’t include any spoilers to my own novel!

I can let you know that he will be returning to visit Jane, at Eyre Hall, in the sequel, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall.

Read the rest of All Hallows at Eyre Hall at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or Amazon worldwide Only 0.99c / £0.77 / €0.89 for a short time!