Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I'm delighted to once again be one of the authors hosting the YA Scavenger Hunt (YASH)! I always have so much fun and meet such awesome people at this event! What is the YA Scavenger Hunt? It's a biannual online event that promotes collaboration between YA authors from different publishing houses, offering fans an opportunity to see the latest and greatest in Young Adult literature. During the hunt, authors showcase exclusive bonus material, give readers access to top secret insider information, and offer fabulous prizes and giveaways for zealous YA fans.

**PLEASE NOTE: The hunt doesn't officially start until 12:00 Noon PST on Tuesday, April 4th. 

This time around, I'm one of the authors on the Purple Team.



The Purple Team banner above includes the book cover for my YA Paranormal Mystery novel, Shade. If you'd consider voting for Shade in the YA Scavenger Hunt Goodreads poll, that would be awesome. You can find the poll here:
YASH Books Poll on Goodreads

LOTS OF PRIZES!!

There are lots of different ways to win prizes in the YA Scavenger Hunt!

You're allowed to participate in and enter the contests for all the teams if you wish or you can just pick one. (You can only enter for each team once.) To find the number from me that you need to add to your PURPLE TEAM or ALL TEAMS total, look for the number I've written in purple and hidden somewhere in the material below.

The rules explaining how the YA Scavenger Hunt works and information on prizes can be found here - there's even a video: How to Hunt

Some authors are also offering their own prizes in conjunction with the YA Scavenger Hunt. I'm hosting a Giveaway on my website in which the prize is a $25 Amazon Gift Card. You can sign up for my Giveaway here: $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Blog Where My YA Paranormal Mystery Shade Series Is Featured in the YA Scavenger Hunt

If you'd like to read my blog post on the symbolic meanings of the paranormal creatures in my YA Paranormal Mystery series and read an excerpt from Shade(Book #1 in the series) please stop by the blog of Stephanie Keyes, the author hosting me in this YA Scavenger Hunt: Stephanie Keyes' Blog

Scavenger Hunt Post

And now without further ado, I'd like to introduce Ilsa J. Bick, the author I'm hosting on my blog for the YA Scavenger Hunt.



Here's a link to Ilsa's Bio which includes some rather awesome achievements, among them writing Star TrekMechwarriorBattletech, and ShadowRun, working as a child psychiatrist, being a film scholar, former Air Force major and award-winning author of dozens of short stories and novels: Ilsa J. Bick's Bio

And here's Ilsa's fascinating blog post:

A question all writers get a lot: Where do you get your ideas? 

A question I asked myself: How do you write about Arthur Conan Doyle



when the only thing people really know or care about is that the guy created Sherlock Holmes?

This was the problem I faced when doing the second book of my DARK PASSAGES series, The Dickens Mirror.  Contrary to what you’d think, Dickens never shows up because the book’s about his mirror and a whole lot more. 

An aside: The idea for the mirror came because I was an English major; Dickens was one of my favorites; and, in a bio, his daughter talks about playing quietly as her dad works and then, all of a sudden, the guy jumps up, runs to a mirror, and starts making faces and talking to himself.  Turns out this was during the writing of Oliver Twist, and he was creating Fagin.  What Kate, the daughter said, was that her dad stayed in character after that, dashing back to the manuscript and scribbly furiously, all the while mumbling to himself as Fagin.

Anyway, I just took the conceit further in the first book, White Space.  But that’s another topic for another day, and I digress.  (I do this a lot.  It is, in fact, how your mind works, by making connections you might not otherwise make.)

I gravitated to Doyle for two reasons: a) he was alive at the right time and b) he was a physician first before he became a writer.  Me being a doctor, too, I understand the mindset; I get medical school; I pretty much have lived that life.  So I thought, okay, go learn about Doyle before Holmes.

There is where having a magpie mind comes in: reading widely about a whole range of things and then picking up pretty bits and pieces for the brightly colored mess that passes for my nest . . . er, brain



because you never know when something will come in handy.

Turns out that Doyle was, well, pretty interesting.  Grew up very poor in a very bad section of Edinburgh; got into a lot of fights; had an alcoholic for a dad who ended up in an asylum; all that.  He was also a little bit of a nut, gravitating to spiritualism as he grew older but only after his son was killed in World War I.  (IMHO as a psychiatrist, since I know that Doyle suffered from depression earlier, losing a son only made that worse, so it was natural that he’d drift that way to cope.  A lot of people did.)

Did he want to become a doctor?  No; his mom wanted that and since he WAS poor and had a lot of sibs and his mom to try and support (Dad being, by now, in an asylum . . . so, nu, he went to medical school.  

Did he like it?  He liked parts of it, but it wasn’t REALLY his passion.  Doyle was into proving his manliness and wanted adventure.  So, to supplement his income while in school—since he had to pay his way—he took a job as a ship’s surgeon on a whaling vessel. 

Young doctors in training did this all the time.  Captains liked it because they were generally better-educated than their crew and so needed someone to talk to who wasn’t completely illiterate or only interested in stereotypical sailor-things.  (Go read the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brien or simply see Master and Commander, a terrific film based on several books in the series, and you’ll understand how important that relationship was/could be.  You will also then understand if I ever make a joke about the lesser of two weevils.) 

Anyway, while he was on the whaler, Doyle kept a journal. 



Read that, and you understand that he loved the adventure of it all: the killing of the seals, the nearly getting killed himself on the ice, the  other guys . . . it made him feel more manly than just studying all the time. 

What caught my eye in this journal, though, were some of his sketches.  They’re crude and all, but one thing he sketched twice was the ship’s big black dog.




And something went ding in my brain and I thought . . . wait a second. 

We all know that one of Conan Doyle’s most famous works—and, frankly, the only one I actually really like—is The Hound of the Baskervilles which is, as we know, all about a big, black, demonic dog.



The story is, in turn, assuredly based on Richard Cabell, probably mixed up with Devon folklore about yeth hounds . . . I’m telling you, I did a lot of reading about all this stuff.

Well, along with all this other stuff I’d learned about Doyle . . . his crummy early life, those fights, that he was a bit of a hoodlum . . . that all just clicked.  There was the black dog.  I knew that Doyle was into spiritualism and the supernatural. He would’ve known about demon dog stories.  He used to fight a lot, and he’d been around sailors, knew sailors . . . and that was where that final, bright shiny piece came from. 

What do you think of when you think of sailors?  Me, I think of tattoos—and why?  Because in Doyle’s time (actually a little before this), sailors were one of the only class of people (other than criminals) who had tattoos.  And some, which I’ve seen in the flesh as it were because people collect some weird stuff—such as these from London’s Wellcome Collection—were what you might expect:




Tattoos only became fashionable for the upper crust when George V—Victoria’s son and quite the party animal—got a dragon tattoo while on tour in Japan.  (This was in 1881 and so right around the time period I was thinking in terms of my alternative London.)  After George got one, everyone who was anyone wanted a tattoo, although most were tasteful and discrete.  (For example, Churchill’s mother, Jenny, had a tattoo around her right wrist that she kept covered up with a sleeve most of the time.  Lady Churchill was a wild and crazy woman in her time, with scads of lovers.  But I digress again.)

I thought, okay, I got all these elements:

Doyle was a gangsta type.  When he was a kid, he ran with a Catholic gang (which is probably the basis for his Baker Street Irregulars). 

As a doctor, he knew about cocaine and doctors experimented on themselves all the time back then.  In fact, Doyle wrote a paper, which I’ve read, about the effects of an extract of gelsinium (made him numb; no great find there), and cocaine is, of course, the monkey on Holmes’s back.  (As it was for Sigmund Freud, who experimented with the stuff on himself and friends, and got horribly addicted until he finally weaned himself off . . . but, again, I digress.)

Doyle knew sailors. 

He sketched that dog. 

In sum, for a strait-laced Catholic boy, Doyle was kind of a wild guy. 

So . . . I decided to make Doyle a drug-addled constable and give him a tattoo of a black demon-dog

And then, in the context of the world of The Dickens Mirror, I decided . . . you know, I think I’ll just have that tattoo come to life.



So, where do writers get their ideas?  From everything and everywhere, so be flexible.  Be curious.  Trust in serendipity and the workings of your imagination and the unconscious to make connections.  Above all, never stop learning and read widely.  Go live life and pay attention because everything—everywhere and every day—has value and, many times, when you least expect.

THE DICKENS MIRROR: Book 2 in THE DARK PASSAGES Series by Ilsa J. Bick:
The Dickens Mirror

Ilsa's Running a Giveaway on Her Website for WHITE SPACE: Book 1 in her DARK PASSAGES Series:
Website Page with Giveaway

Links for Ilsa J. Bick:





Amazon Author Page

Important Information About the YA Scavenger Hunt Contest

Don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Ilsa J. Bick, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 4242. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the purple team and you'll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


CONTINUE ON IN THE YA SCAVENGER HUNT

To continue the hunt, visit the blog of author Paula Stokes: Blog of Paula Stokes . Have fun!  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Dark Legends $50 Giveaway


Win $50 in Amazon credit – sponsored by the authors behind the bestselling Dark Legends collection of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. Just Tweet and Share to enter! We'll notify the winners by 12/20. Check it out here:
Dark Legends $50 Giveaway

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dark Legends Advent Calendar with Giveaways


The Dark Legends authors have set up a fun online Advent Calendar. There are lots of fun things behind the windows, including some giveaways. Hint: Behind the December 3rd window, you'll find my giveaway for a See's Candies Box of Chocolates. Have fun:


Monday, December 5, 2016

Spotlight on Shade




I'm delighted to be featured on Muffy Wilson's blog as one of the Dark Legends authors. Find out about my YA Paranormal Mystery/YA Urban Fantasy novel, Shade, which is in the boxed set, read an excerpt, and check out Muffy's interview with me:
Spotlight on Shade


Secret Zombie Santa Giveaway



After promoting my other genres for a while, I've decided it's high time I promote my Zombie/Apocalyptic series. My Mutation Z Series: Books 1-6 Paperback Omnibus (418 pages of novelettes and novellas!) is part of the awesome Secret Zombie Santa Giveaway. Prizes include zombie books, other zombie-related prizes, even a couple of WALKING DEAD graphic novels! Don't believe Zombie Santa's cheery "Ho! Ho! Ho!" He's really after B-R-A-A-A-I-N-S. And he's got my book in his hand! Ignore him and sign up here any time before December 17th:
Secret Zombie Santa Giveaway

Monday, November 28, 2016

Three of My Books/Boxed Sets Are on Sale for Only $0.99, Perfect for Your Cyber Monday Shopping!


Shade and the Skinwalkers (Book #2 in My YA Paranormal Mystery/YA Urban Fantasy Series) Is Only $0.99 Through Cyber Monday. (Next Day, the Price Goes Up to $3.99.)



CYBER MONDAY SALE:
Last day to grab Shade and the Skinwalkers, Book #2 in my YA Paranormal Mystery/YA Urban Fantasy series, for only $0.99! (Next day, the price goes up to $3.99.)

As if being a ghost whisperer in a trailer park isn’t weird enough, skinwalkers take things to a whole new level of strange.

Running away from her demons rather than facing them, Shade’s mother moves them once again to a new place—this time a trailer park on the outskirts of Roswell, New Mexico. Hiding in plain sight among UFO festivals and rumors of alien abductions, paranormal creatures live there by their own rules.

Shade accepts her destiny as a ghost whisperer with the help of her new best friend, Kai Zahnii. An empath and healer with the potential to become a Navajo shaman, Kai must break free of her dysfunctional family. This dysfunction goes far beyond anything Shade has ever known. Kai is all too familiar with skinwalkers, shapeshifter witches who violate taboos in order to practice pure evil. In the Wild West atmosphere of her new town, Shade is thrown into a world inhabited not only by ghosts, but also by witches, faeries and shapeshifters. She must find the courage to fight the skinwalkers alongside her new best friend and creatures she never knew existed.

Shade and the Skinwalkers - Only $0.99 through Cyber Monday:
Shade and the Skinwalkers


Shade (Book #1 in My YA Paranormal Mystery/YA Urban Fantasy Series) Has Been Reduced in Price to Only $0.99.

Finalist Award in the 2015 National Indie Excellence Book Awards, Young Adult Fiction Category.

Thanks to her offbeat mother, Shade’s full name is Galactic Shade Griffin. Having a name like that while being the new girl in school is pretty much catnip for bullies. The summer before Shade’s junior year of high school, her mother breaks up with yet another boyfriend and moves them once again to a new town.

This time, they move into a dilapidated old house where Shade has an entire attic bedroom to herself—at least until she discovers it’s haunted by the ghost of a teenaged boy named Brandon Yates. When Shade’s best friend goes missing, her life becomes even more complicated. With the help of Brandon who’s struggling with his own issues in the world beyond, Shade faces the question of whether or not she has what it takes to become a true hero.

Although this novel deals with a number of serious issues—drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, and disturbing world events—it's primarily a novel about a teenaged girl finding out who she really is and that she's capable of so much more than she ever thought possible.

Shade is a YA Paranormal Mystery/YA Urban Fantasy novel.

From Aditi Saha, Goodreads Reviewer: "All-in-all, [SHADE]'s a very entertaining book, not a single dull moment. Hats off to the author for writing such an amazingly cool teenage mystery novel with a paranormal twist."

From Lucinda Fountain, Goodreads Reviewer: "As beautiful as the eye-catching cover 'Shade' is a sensational, awesome story of unforgettable premise and remarkable depth of mind-blowing epicness! Fans of YA fiction will be dazzled by this debut."

From Rachel Dove, Amazon Author and Reviewer: "This book is enthralling, very easy to read and relate to, and discusses issues without patronising the reader. Brilliant, another gem in Marilyn's crown."

Shade is only $0.99 right now:
Shade

The Dark Legends Boxed Set Is Only $0.99 During Pre-order.



Welcome to DARK LEGENDS

Contains alpha heroes, sassy heroines, and crafty villains. This Collection is PACKED with more than 20 full-length Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance reads from New York Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors!

Grab your copy now. Only $0.99 for a limited time.

BUY LINKS:
Amazon
iBooks
Nook
Kobo

Monday, November 21, 2016

Invitation to Sign Up for the Dark Legends Release Party



Please sign up for our Dark Legends Release Party on Facebook. We're planning lots of fun activities and giveaways from now until after our release date. We're planning at least three giveaways of swag bags filled with lots of stuff including signed paperbacks. And we're also offering "dates" with our characters. When someone wins the date, they'll actually win whatever prize the author included. In my case, my teenaged girl character named Shade doesn't want to date because her mom's always picked out guys that caused them both a lot of pain. But she's interested in hanging out with a friend, drinking hot chocolate like the psychic Gabriella once made for her and eating cookies. My prizes for the person who wins a day hanging out with Shade are: a Godiva Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Canister (10 servings) and a box of Godiva Signature Milk Chocolate Biscuits. Sign up for the party here:
Dark Legends Release Party!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Two Ways to Peek Inside the Dark Legends Boxed Set




There are now two ways to peek inside the Dark Legends Boxed Set!


Sneak-Peek Video

You can now watch a snappy new video to see the books inside the boxed set:



FIRST-CHAPTERS PREVIEW FROM INSTAFREEBIE




You can now read the first chapters of the books in the Dark Legends Boxed Set by grabbing the First-Chapters Preview for FREE on Instafreebie! 
Enjoy sample chapters by New York Times, USA Today and International Bestselling Authors:
Dark Legends First-Chapters Preview on Instafreebie

Pre-order Dark Legends Now - Only $0.99 during pre-order!



This Collection is packed with more than 20 full-length Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance reads from New York Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors! 

Don’t miss this collection of more than twenty unique twists in paranormal romance and urban fantasy, providing over one million words of supernatural suspense that will transport you to new worlds with smoking hot action and heart-throttling adventure!

The DARK LEGENDS boxed set includes: Mermaids, Sirens, Shifters, Vampires, Dragons, Sorcerers, Warriors, Angels, Faeries, Demons, Witches, Psychics, Ghosts, Mythology, Folk Tales, Legends, Dark Magic, Time Travel, and More!

Purchase for only $0.99 during pre-order!