Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Vic Challenger and the Mysterious Cryptids

First of all, for anyone not sure, here’s a quick definition of a cryptid - A living thing suspected or reported but not confirmed officially or scientifically. I use the term ‘living thing’ because, even though animal cryptids are most popular, plants can be cryptids, too. Famous examples include Bigfoot, unicorns, sea serpents, and chupacabra.

Does Vic Challenger run into cryptids? She does. Like Vic novels in general, there was no grand plan to begin, it just comes pouring out. The cryptids just show up. So far, (books 1-5) Vic has encountered a thunderbird, death worm, Nessie, great apes where they shouldn’t be, drop bears, bunyips, thylacines and cannibals.

There may be some argument about that last one - cannibals. Humans are living things and if they are in or near populations of other humans but unknown (living among us!) does that count? Sort of a rhetorical question, since the answer doesn’t really matter, but it is the kind of question that consistently pops up in the research for Vic Challenger novels.

There is a categorization of cryptids called ‘Eberhart’s Classification’, proposed by George Eberhart of the American Library Association. Here is a brief version:

1. Distribution anomalies
2. Undescribed, unusual, or outsized variations of known species
3. Survivals of recently extinct species
4. Survivals of species known only from the fossil record into modern times
5. Lingerlings, or survivals of species known from the fossil record much later into historical times than currently thought
6. Animals not known from the fossil record but related to known species
7. Animals not known from the fossil record nor related to any known species
8. Mythical animals with a zoological basis
9. Seemingly paranormal or supernatural entities with some animal-like characteristics
10. Known hoaxes or probable misidentifications
You can read more about it here:

Cryptids do sometimes turn out to be real.  Check this out.
Until 1901 scientists thought the Okapi was a myth.  

Here is another great resource.  Lists 50 cryptids and reference books for further delving.

In case you are wondering, things like the coelacanth fish are not cryptids. To be a true cryptid the existence of the creature must be disputed. For those who aren’t aware, the coelacanth is a species thought to be extinct for millions of years - until fishermen caught one in 1938, and more have been caught since. That made me ask another question which I haven’t checked. Has the coelacanth been added to the endangered species list? If I caught one, could I mount it and show it off over the mantle?  Great site to learn all you want to know about the coelacanth (a Smithsonian site)

Scientists thought the coelacanth became extinct millions of years ago.  Then one was caught in 1938. Now 2 distinct species of living coelacanths have been identified.

The question has been asked, “Will there always be cryptids in Vic Challenger novels? Since there is no true formula or plan, it is hard to say always, however, yes, always- Vic meets up with both cryptids and bad guys in all her trips.   If interested, here is a another list of cryptids to begin your deeper research. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cryptids

Also, the reference notes for each Vic Challenger novel always include the references used for cryptid info,  It’s at the website http://www.vicplanet.com
Many of the “monsters” Vic runs into are cryptids so I’ll be writing more about specific cryptids in future postings. Let me know what you think of cryptids and I would especially be interested if you have ever seen one.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Early 20th Century Roads in America - Why Vic Challenger Rode the Train

Vic Challenger was doing her thing in the 1920’s and it was a really different world.  I run across facts for every book that make me think “Wow!”  Take roads for example.

In book 4, ‘Terror Incognita’, Vic and friends take a road trip from Beatrice to the Northwest corner of Nebraska for a camp out.    I was pretty sure there were no interstate highways but wasn’t sure of the state of roads.  Dirt.  Almost certain, they were driving on a dirt road. One source stated going twenty miles a day was good travel then.  I believe a horse can do that.   Here are some interesting facts I discovered.

In the beginning, roads were foot paths.  Then wagons and buggies took the same route and they widened to roads.  So way back, building roads was no big enterprise, just get enough people riding the same path for awhile and it’s a road.  As far back as 1815 there was something called the National Road from Maryland to St Louis to make it easier to migrate to the center of the country but it was dirt and had no official entity to take care of it.

In 1920 there were some cement, brick and gravel roads but mostly in cities.  All roads back then were created by the state or more likely the local people of a city or region.

In 1919, Lt. Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower led a convoy from Washington D.C. To San Francisco to spotlight then need for good roads.  It took two months and that was too slow.  It was a national security issue.

The “first road across America” was the Lincoln Highway which ran from New York to San Francisco.  It began as work by local municipalities an companies.  Cement companies, for example, poured miles of road to improve local transportation.  It was completed in 1923.

There was a Federal Highway Act of 1921 which was funded in 1926 and the federal government officially got in the act.  Roads were named “U.S. #” and the system is still used.  The Lincoln Highway became part of U.S. 30.

In 1956 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that began the Interstate Highway system we enjoy today.   In 1990, President George Bush signed legislation that renamed the national system of interstate highways the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

What about those things we complain about?  Who’s to blame?  First state to use taxes for road construction was New Jersey in 1891, followed by Massachusetts and Virginia in 1892.

Massachusetts and New York were the first states to collect license fees in 1903.

Not related to roads in 1920, but have you ever wondered how interstate highways are named?  Major routes are designated by single- or two-digit numbers. If a route runs north-south, it is given an odd number, and if route a runs east-west, an even number. For north-south routes, numbering conventions begin in the west. Thus I-5 runs north and south along the West Coast, while I-95 runs north and south along the East Coast. For east-west routes, numbers begin in the south.

Next time you think that pot hole is horrible, remember 1920.  Now you know why Vic Challenger takes the train.   Have any interesting trivia about road you would like to share?  Post in comments.

Here are some references if you want to learn more:
http://americanroadmagazine.com/   IF YOU ARE PLANNING A ROAD TRIP you need to check this out.  All kinds of great info.  They have forums but you need to sign up and be approved to participate.  Obviously I did.

For exciting adventure reads go with Vic Challenger!  Visit  us

Here are some photos of the 1919 convoy led by Eisenhower.  More photos at

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Action Adventure Heroess Vic Challenger Gets a New Look

I am currently in the final 3 weeks or so of a big modification project.  The Incredible Adventures of Vic Challenger is being modified.  Can’t recall every hearing of that done, at least not with that word - modification.  I anticipate a few people wondering about what that means so decided to do a blog post that details the project.  If someone asks I can refer them to this post for all the info.

First of all, if you have read any of the Vic series, no, the stories have not changed.

What was done to the novels?

1. Every book is getting a new cover.  I bought a font, “Adventure”, that is used on all covers and will be in the future.  The spines are formatted so series number at top and publisher logo at bottom a positioned the same on all books.  One section of copy on the back cover is now standardized.  There will be some illustration still since it is difficult to find a dinosaur or monster to pose for a cover.  What’s new is the real life Vic Challenger.  Covers will all, for foreseeable  future, have a model portraying Vic Challenger!

2. Interiors were reformatted. Paper was changed.  Headers were added. Drop caps are used to begin chapters.  Gutters are about 1.5 letters wider.  Some chapter titles were changed.  A bibliography was added at the end of each novel.  Yes, that last may  seem strange, but Vic novels are historical and I work to make them accurate even in small details.  “What used to be” just 100 years ago, I find fascinating and thought some readers might, also.  It’s only one or two pages, but gives web site for complete list of references used for each book.

3.  Of course, those changes required changes in trailers, web sites, Youtube, Pinterest, and headers on all social media.  Digital versions had to be re-done.  Many posters are being re-done to feature real-life  Vic.

4.  Novel one, Time Doesn’t Matter, required a little extra work.  Originally, it was 5.5 x 8.5.   5x8 was used for novel 2, Mongol, and I like it better so used it thereafter.  Now novel #1 is also 5x8.

5.  Also been working on what may turn into a parallel series of shorts.  They would be illustrated stories of 10k words or so.   First one is done - needs editing.

6  PCIP data is added to all books also.  That is cataloging used for libraries.

7.  The series is no longer exclusive on Kindle.  It is going through Ingram and among other things that means they will become available on ibooks™.

I’m sure I have forgotten to mention something.  As is the case with many large projects, it wasn’t all smooth sailing, either.  It took much longer than anticipated but I am personally very happy with what I already see.  Hopefully, readers will like the changes, too.

Novels 1-3 “refurbished models” should be up later this week

Now I want to ask favors and offer a freebie.   Book #1 is changed enough that it may lose it’s reviews on Amazon, I was told it will be checked by AI, an algorithm I’m sure.  If that determines it to be same book, I keep reviews. If not, they’re all gone.  If it checks page against page, reviews are gone.  The change in size means what WAS on page 10 WILL BE somewhere around page 14.  Of course, reviews are always welcome.
I’ll trade you.  I’ll gift a printed or kindle copy of Time Doesn’t Matter in return for an honest review.   If interested, email  jg1677@aol.com with an address for print or specify you want kindle.

Join a Vic group.  Sandra Hould has a Vic Challenger Facebook  group.  You can join at

Become a friend of Vic.   Get some fun swag and be notified when something new is up with Vic
Visit http://www.vicplanet.com
Thanks for reading.
Note - If you wish to comment and there are no comments yet, you will see "No Comments" below.  Click on that and comments will open.