Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"Vic: Mystery and Magic" by Jerry Gill

Vic: Mystery & Magic
(The Incredible Adventures of Vic Challenger Book 8)
by Jerry Gill

Vic: Mystery & Magic by Jerry Gill

Vic: Mystery & Magic is the eighth book in The Incredible Adventures of Vic Challenger series by Jerry Gill. The author stops by today to share a special guest post and an excerpt from the book. You can also enter our exclusive giveaway to win a copy of your own.

Learn what it's like to spend Christmas with Vic Challenger, Queen of New Pulp Adventure.
Vic and her friend Lin are invited to spend Christmas in Washington state. Their friend Evelyn is visiting family to help with a haunting. None of them believe in ghosts but something is going on. Also, hairy monsters were seen in the woods. Evelyn thinks Vic might be a big help with that. Things get complicated by the blizzard. The owner of the property Vic visits doesn’t want word to get out that strange beasts are there - hunters will overrun his land. Then there is that big hole in the ground and the unexpected visitor. While Vic deals with all that, Lin Li and Evelyn must read thousands of pages of old correspondence in Chinese to find the answer to the mystery of the ghost. Like all Vic Challenger novels, driven by action, and unpredictable adventure. You’ll never guess all that happens.
This turns out to be the most unusual Christmas Vic may ever have.

Series Video

Excerpt from Chapter 6 Unexpected Encounter
Suddenly there was the sound of snarls, very much like dogs or wolves fighting and what seemed a prolonged screech from a cougar. Howdy commented - Sounds like a zoo out there. Perhaps everyone else thought it was wolves, cougar and elk.  Vic knew better. At the sound, Vic recalled Teona’s story of a creature other than a Sasquatch which attacked her. It was the size of a man but hairy and looked very strong. That description along with the distant snarls gave Vic goose skin, and made the hair stand on her neck. 
Vic jumped up and bolted for the front of the home. She gave no explanation and didn’t stop for a coat. Near the front door there was a wood-box for fire logs, and earlier Vic noticed there was an ax in the box. That was the only point at which Vic even slowed, just to grab the ax. Then she set off full sprint toward the continuing sounds to the north.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Vic Challenger does it again! The suspense started literally 1/3 of the way through the book; and just like typical Vic Challenger novels, the ending leaves you speechless! The adventure is incredible. Jerry Gill is one my favorite authors.” ~ Jamaal Al-Din
“A fantastic adventure novel with cryptozoology themes and a strong emphasis on friendship. Vic’s personality shines in this book, and her daring, loyal, intelligent and compassionate nature are seen clearly as the book progresses. With not one, but two mysteries to solve, Vic and her friends boldly accept these challenges and also manage to overcome a few others along the way! I really enjoyed the way the author has cleverly interwoven other stories throughout the book, which are told through conversation about the history of a family and relatives long gone. If you’re looking for a bold new heroine and non-stop adventure, then Vic Challenger is your girl. This book also works as a stand-alone novel and a wonderful introduction to Vic and her friends, as well as a great addition to the Vic Challenger series.” ~ Rebecca Millar

Guest Post by the Author
Civilized Conversation
A Japanese Santa from 1918.
Know how any dinner gathering can sometimes get a little hostile? Someone badmouths something and someone else retaliates. Like if nephew Timmy loves rap music and aunt Dora dotes on Pavarotti and both vehemently believe their choice of music is best and the other sucks.
Want to avoid that kind of situation and keep Great Uncle Charlie from dominating the conversation with stories of his bees like he did last year and the year before that and…? Then you need to dominate the conversation. Speak up and make everyone think you are the smartest dudette or dude at the table. Don’t use jargon from your high-tech startup. That puts you in the same realm as Great Uncle Charlie. Don’t discuss those perennial no-nos - politics, religion, sex and maybe music. Maybe sports. Talk about something they are all interested in - Christmas!
For example, when that argument over music ensues, break in. What’s your fav Christmas song? Then keep it rolling with your favorite – “Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer”. Some Christmas carols have been around for centuries, but Rudolph is fairly new. Did you know the song came from a story published by the retailer Montgomery Wards in the 1930s? In 1939 the song was written by Johnny Marks. It really became famous in 1949 when it was recorded by the Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry. It was number 1 the week of Christmas and sold WAY over a million copies. That was a lot back then and we are not talking digital downloads. It was 45 rpm pressed vinyl in paper sleeves.
Next fav song? Must be “Frosty the Snowman”. That came out in 1950, again by Gene Autry first but a more popular version was by comedian Jimmy Durante on MGM records.
I’m not sure where the idea of a tree came from (if you know everything, you will come across as a “know-it-all”), but I read the traditional colors derived from what they called the Paradise Tree in Europe in the 11th century. White is for innocence, red is for the apple of knowledge and green for the fir tree. The tradition of a Christmas tree came to the US in the 1880s with German immigrants. It really took off when The Ladies Home Journal had a cover showing Queen Victoria with a tree.
Decorating with glass ornaments seems to also have come to the US from Germany. The earliest account of ornaments on a tree in a home was in Germany in 1605. In the early 1900s, F. W. Woolworth began importing them to sell in his Five and Dime Stores. That tradition has grown but, for decades, people decorated the “old-fashioned” way. Different things were strung together to create garlands for the tress - like popcorn, nuts, fruit, cowbells, and tin can lids. Cookies and cakes were set on the limbs. Presents were also put on the tree. They didn’t get, nor expect, a laundry list of gifts back then. One gift of any kind was cause for celebration. One tradition that is still carried on and promoted in schools is paper ring garlands; colored paper (or any) is cut in small strips which are glued together in rings. Bet you did that!
Lighting trees with electric lights didn’t become popular in the US Until after World War 2. In the 1920s, when Vic Challenger novels take place, most people used candles or didn’t light the tree. Especially outside of cities, many people still didn’t have electricity. Early homes didn’t have wall sockets, either. There was a thing called the light fixture socket. It screwed in before the light bulb and the bulb screwed into it. It was equipped with a plug for electrical equipment. An associate of Thomas Edison is credited with the first electric lighted tree in 1882. The first electric lighted Christmas tree at the White House was in 1895 by President Grover Cleveland. In the early years of the 20th Century, many well-to-do people would have lighting parties. The cost for a lighted tree would run around $300. That was their money. Today it would translate to $2,000 plus. Part of the cost was purchase or rental of a generator and services of a wireman.
A vintage candle clip for the Christmas tree. You can find plenty on eBay.
Many lighted the tree with candles, like in Vic: Mystery & Magic, but it wasn’t as dangerous as it sounds. Most often the tree was fresh and decorated as a family event on Christmas Eve and taken down the next day. Some people did it a little different. Adults would set up the tree behind closed doors. Then, on Christmas Eve, the children were allowed to see it and collect their gift.
Germany gifted us with great Christmas traditions, but we have given, too. In 1917, because of import restrictions here in the US related to The Great War (World War 1), an enterprising man named Louis Szel went to Japan to start the industry there and teach the technique to laborers. Great marketing gave Japan something else. Did you know a favorite Christmas meal in Japan is a bucket of chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken?
Sounds odd, but here is something more unusual. In Greenland, a traditional Christmas treat is Kiviak. First step - Begin six months before Christmas. Step 2 - Kill a bunch of auks (birds). Step three - Sew them into a seal skin, with feathers and all. Step 4 - Wait until Christmas. Step 5 - Open the skin and enjoy the fermented treat!
1902 - This must be Santa getting his wishes.
There is another custom less than cheery in Iceland. They have something like the Bogey Man. It’s the Yule Cat. At Christmas season, he looks for boys and girls who haven’t worked hard enough and eats them.
Of course, there are more happy traditions than not. One I liked was from the Ukraine. They use fake spider webs to decorate trees for good luck. The tale goes that once a very poor family went to bed Christmas Eve, very unhappy, crying and lamenting they were too poor to even decorate the tree. There just so happened to be some kindly spiders in their house who overheard the people. During the night the spiders decorated the tree with webs and in the morning the webs turned to gold and silver thread and the family lived happily - and rich - ever after.
There are many stories of things done by many people which contributed to Santa Claus today. Two of the larger events went like this. In 1822, an Episcopal minister, Clement Clarke Moore wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters titled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas”. His description was pretty much our description today. Santa is a magical, jolly, and rotund elf who magically can get into any chimney. He rides a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer and leaves gifts for deserving children. In 1881, Thomas Nash, cartoonist, drew a cartoon based on Moore’s poem. It appeared in Harper’s Weekly and has stayed with us. By the way, the Montgomery Ward copywriter (ad writer) who wrote “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” used a rhythm pattern like the Reverend Moore (by then his poem was known as “'Twas the Night Before Christmas”).
Now, wouldn’t that make for a happier conversation than politics, religions, sex… or sports, even? Of course, the cherry on top will be wishing people merry Christmas in different languages. Below is a list of how to say Merry Christmas in languages of places visited by Vic Challenger in the first 8 novels or where she will visit soon. These were taken from several different websites and all sites did not agree. My apologies if something is wrong.
African Somali: Kirismas Wacan
Swahili: Noeli Njema
Uganda: Webale Krismasi
Yucatec Maya” Ki'imak "navidad"
Spanish: Feliz Navidad
Vic: Mongol, Book 2:
Chinese Mandarin: Sheng Dan Kuai Le (诞快乐)
Cantonese: Seng Dan Fai Lok (聖誕快樂)
Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka
Japanese: Meri Kurisumasu (or Meri Kuri for short!)
Mongolian: Zul saryn bolon shine ony mend devshuulye Зул сарын мэнд бас шинэ жилийн мэнд
Scotland Scots: Blithe Yule
Gaelic: Nollaig Chridheil
Arizona Dine’ or Navajo Nizhonigo Keshmish
Brazil: Feliz Natal or
Portuguese: Boas Festas
Vic: Fast, Book 5:
Australia I couldn’t find Merry Christmas in any aboriginal languages. Know one? I did attach a video below about how one aboriginal tribe celebrates Christmas. Just 4 minutes and well worth the time. Finland has similar celebrations. Here’s the Oz English version: Happy Christmas, Mate!
Vic: Event, Book 6:
Russian: Schastlivogo Rozhdestva! or rozhdyestvom Hristovym! which means “Congratulations on the birth of Christ!”
Evenki: sévden krɪsməs
Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri: Merry Christmas, neighbor!
Washington State, Vic first language, original language of uprights, aka Sasquatch speak: Oo oo guth wah (with eyes wide, and follow with nods and clacking teeth together)
Some coming:
Malagasy: Tratra ny Noely or Arahaba tratry ny Krismasy
French: Joyeux Noël
Icelandic: Gleðileg Jól
Hindi: Śubh krisamas
Bengali: Shubho bôodin
One more thing. Praise the cook and the meal. No matter what or who. Even that thing you don’t recognize, wrapped in something else you don’t recognize; eat one and if nothing else say with gusto, “Wow! I’ve never tasted anything quite like that!”
I have never known a mom, grandma, or any woman who doesn’t enjoy preparing a special meal for Christmas. They wouldn’t want to do it every day or even every month, but that one very special time, they enjoy it and strive to make it special. Don’t insult them by suggesting instant mashed potatoes or a turkey from a restaurant or dressing made in a sauce pan. I know some who would kick you … where you don’t want to be kicked for even the suggestion.
Don’t downgrade Christmas by subjecting it to neat time management techniques. It isn’t about doing it faster but about savoring the occasion, reflecting, being thankful, sharing. If someone celebrates Christmas differently, don’t knock it. If you are an atheist or other non-Christian, but like Christmas, remember what it is meant to celebrate; when you see a manger scene at a local church don’t think something bad, just remember how much you like Christmas. And people of faith - if atheists or others say or do something you disagree with, ignore it, turn the other cheek and remember what Christmas means to you and live the spirit.
That’s it for this month. Merry Christmas and may you feel a Christmas-like joy every day!
You can find a good place for Santa images here or some neat gifs of old-time stereoscope images here.

About the Author
Jerry Gill
I have written/edited/published for years but it was non-fiction, especially directories. The government decided to do some things that impacted my products, and spent years postponing proposed changes. My customer base was pretty much decimated. Oh well ... life.
Wake up! When I was 10 or 12, I read The Eternal Savage by Edgar Rice Burroughs (in two parts, 1914 and 1917). I immediately went looking for a sequel. There never was one. I re-read the book a few times and in 2013 decided I'd do the sequel myself. I re-wrote the beginning, sequel (#2), then #3, #4 as of February 2015. It will require 4-5 more at least to use the scenes already in my head.
Why Vic instead of a Victor? I have four fantastic hanai nieces. Women have it better now than once upon a time, but still people don't give them deserved credit. I wanted to create a character that wasn't a vampire or super hero, just the girl next door but with a goal and unwilling to let anything stop her. Vic remembers when life was stupendously savage, when actions we might today equate with extreme bravery were just daily life. Vic's motto: You don't need to be brave, you just need to do what needs done.
Obviously, a great influence is Edgar Rice Burroughs. I liked all his work but especially his less celebrated books. I read most Tarzan books but preferred stories like The Eternal Savage, Pellucidar novels, The Moon Trilogy, Beyond Thirty, The Land of Hidden Men, The Oakdale Affair, the Time Forgot books, and so on.
Edgar Rice Burroughs was not my only influence, though. I remember trying to read a Hardy Boys book and never finished one. Tried Nancy Drew and loved it. One part of the formula for Nancy books is inclusion of real facts. For example, I recently re-read TheMystery at the Moss Covered Mansion and it had a fantastic description of visiting the Kennedy Space Center before a launch in the 60s. I try to include real facts without making it a travelogue. And although there is a sci-fi component to the books (and will continue to be) I want Vic to always do things that are possible. Often, they are far from easy, and definitely not recommended as many of her actions are very dangerous - but always possible. On the website under Resource Hub I give all the places where I dug up info for the books.
Nancy Drew and Edgar Rice Burroughs had influential helpers. All those writers who contributed as Kenneth Robeson to Doc Savage and The Avenger were great influences. I read both series. I figure if my writing can bring readers even a tiny fraction of the pleasure I was given by those writers of yesteryear, it's worth anything I put into it.
Lots of information about Vic and the books are on the website. References are listed, non-English vocabulary used in the books, discussion questions for book clubs, reviews, excerpts, trailers and more.
Each novel has its own board on Pinterest. You can follow me and Vic on Twitter if interested. I spend about an hour per day on Twitter. Twice I read through the most recent 100 tweets. I usually retweet several on many topics. It's not just Vic stuff. I follow back 99% of the time. I send thank you tweets to new followers. I send about 5-10 tweets myself. Some are quotes from Vic or others. Some are about coming books. Some are review quotes. Some are none of the above.
A fan set up a Vic fan group on Facebook. It would be great if you joined. No cost, no work. If you ever want to talk about a Vic book or related, you have a place to go. I have nothing to do with the group (I think it would be tacky to join a group for my own character), but I will try to always give advance notice of the next book and such, discounts and that sort of thing. Nothing to lose, maybe something to gain.
Finally, a request to share. I'm told reviews help. Amazon uses them to determine what customers see when they search. When you read a Vic novel, please write a review. Long, short, whatever. Post it on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, Barnes and Noble, your own blog, anywhere! And tell people on social media and face to face. Surprising how many lovers of action/adventure are in the closet. If they are not interested, that's that. If they are ... imagine how happy they will be that you introduced them to Vic Challenger!
I still do some nonfiction, but Vic Challenger is more fun!
Thanks for your interest! Happy reading!

Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of Vic: Mystery & Magic by Jerry Gill (epub format).