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Archive for August, 2015

Bucelarii - CopyHow many of us (including you) have time to sit and write for endless hours every day? Chances are, very few of us are full-time writers. I’m willing to bet that 70 to 90% of the people writing every day are people trying to make a career of it while still keeping their day job.

But, like any other “second job”, writing is something you need to approach with professionalism and dedication.

We’ve all heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hours” rule: to become an expert at anything, you need to put in about 10,000 hours. Well, if you sat down and wrote every day for 8 hours a day, that’s 1,250 days of writing–or nearly 3 ½ years.

I’m willing to bet most people only get about an hour per day–let’s say TWO, just to be generous. At 2 hours per day, you will need 5,000 days to become an expert. Given days off, weekends, and days when you just can’t write, that’s approaching 15 years! 15 years of writing to become an expert!

Of course, you don’t NEED to become an expert to do well at writing. But do you get where I’m going with this?

To become “good” at writing, it takes time–and a lot of it. You may not need 15 years to be a good writer, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

The secret to good writing: writing every day.

Regular practice makes both “perfect” and “permanent”. It’s a cycle of awesome: the more you write, the better you become, and the more you can write, so the better you can become.

But how are you going to reach that “better” and “more” stage? By regular, daily practice.

It’s all about putting in the time, every day, rain or shine, hell or high water. The only way to ensure that it happens is to make it a part of your day.

Some people HATE making schedules. They think it’s trying to force creativity or put it into a box. To them, I say, “Perhaps, but…”

I write for a living (marketing, blogging, advertising, etc.). It’s a creative profession, but far less creative than fiction writing. The fact that I write for a living (along with all of my other activities) means I am already spending time at my computer ALL DAY LONG. To sit down and keep writing fiction isn’t easy.

But that’s where the writing schedule comes in handy. I know that I’ll be finished with my regular work at a certain time of day, so I have X number of hours to organize in order to be productive. It’s a simple matter of choosing a slot of an hour or two and sitting down to write at that time.

Not everyone will have a life that’s neat and tidy. We don’t all work 9-5 jobs (I don’t!) where we can clock in and clock out. But that doesn’t matter! You still need to MAKE time to write in your schedule, no matter how busy you are. You may lose sleep, miss parties, get less TV/gaming time, or even have to spend less time with your family (sucks, but it may necessary).

How much is your “second job” as a writer worth to you? How much are you willing to sacrifice to make it work? If you’re anything like the successful authors in the world–such as Stephen King–you’ll make the time to write every day!

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The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer

The Hunter of Voramis is the perfect assassin: ruthless, unrelenting, immortal. Yet he is haunted by lost memories, bonded to a cursed dagger that feeds him power yet denies him peace of mind. Within him rages an unquenchable need for blood and death.

When he accepts a contract to avenge the stolen innocence of a girl, the Hunter becomes the prey. The death of a seemingly random target sends him hurtling toward destruction, yet could his path also lead to the truth of his buried past?

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andy

Andy Peloquin–a third culture kid to the core–has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child.

When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn’t looked back since.

Andy’s first attempt at writing produced In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent. He has learned from the mistakes he made and used the experience to produce Blade of the Destroyer, a book of which he is very proud.

Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.

His website (http://www.andypeloquin.com) is a second home for him, a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings–along with reviews of books he finds laying around the internet.

He can also be found on his social media pages, such as:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndyPeloquin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andyqpeloquin

www.linkedin.com/in/andypeloquin/

https://plus.google.com/100885994638914122147/about

https://www.amazon.com/author/andypeloquin

https://www.facebook.com/andrew.peloquin.1

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florenceFlorence Byham Weinberg, born in Alamogordo, New Mexico, lived on a ranch, on a farm, and traveled with her military family. After earning a PhD, she taught for 36 years in three universities. She published four scholarly books. Since retiring, she has written seven historical novels and one philosophical fantasy/thriller. She lives in San Antonio, loves cats, dogs and horses, and great-souled friends with good conversation. Visit her website and connect with her on Facebook.

About the Book:

Dolet depicts the life and times of Etienne Dolet. Etienne, who told the bald truth to friend and foe alike, angered the city authorities in sixteenth-century Toulouse, fled to Lyon, and became a publisher of innovative works on language, history, and theology. His foes framed him; he was persecuted, imprisoned, and ultimately executed by the Inquisition for daring to publish the Bible in French translation.

What readers are saying:

“[Dolet]  …I read it all with pleasure, and delighted to see names that I have known for some time coming alive as “characters,” albeit fictitious ones. I especially liked the way in which you brought out the sense of community, of being a band of brothers that so many of those amazing people shared.”
~ Kenneth Lloyd-Jones, Professor, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

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Dolet_medINTERVIEW

What’s inside the mind of an author of historical fiction?

Two things. Her doctoral dissertation was on François Rabelais, a sixteenth-century comedic and satirical writer. In doing that, she became familiar with the dominant French literary and political figures of the century, their folkways and thought processes. She has written three historical novels, including the current novel, Dolet. The other branch of her historical novels concerns what we now call the Southwest—in other words her home territory, which she loves. She understands the people, knows the landscape, fauna and flora, and the psychology of her people. She has written about the founding of the five old Franciscan missions located in and around San Antonio (Apache Lance, Franciscan Cross), about the second expedition up the Rio Grande from Mexico (New Spain) in 1581 (Seven Cities of Mud), four mysteries starring a Jesuit missionary as detective (a historical person named Ignaz Pfefferkorn, S.J.) two set in the Sonora Desert, one in Spain and one in Germany. The outlier, Anselm, a Metamorphosis, is a fantasy set in upstate New York, where she lived and taught for 28 years. With Dolet, she returns to her beloved field as a scholar and professor, and attempts to reinstate Etienne Dolet among the great thinkers and writers of the 16th century in France.

What is so great about being an author?

The author is the god of his or her universe. This is truer if one is not bound by historical facts, but even if he or she is, the author still gets to imagine what happens in the gaps between those facts. Authorship transports the person—especially if the book is set in a foreign country at a different time—into another environment, with different folkways, politics, expectations, landscape, weather—in short, another universe. If, like author Weinberg, the writer aspires to write accurate historical fiction, it gives the opportunity to do research and to discover hitherto unknown facts. She has sorted through musty old documents in Mexico, in Spain: Madrid, Seville, Ciudad Rodrigo, and in Germany: Cologne, Unkel, Mannheim, Siegburg, Kiel and Düsseldorf. All her historical books (until this one) have appendices in which she clarifies what is fact and what fiction. The greatest thing about being an author is the joy of creation. The sense of elation when words are flowing effortlessly onto the page has no equal. This book calls itself a “nonfiction novel,” and since it endeavors to recreate true facts and situations, thre is no need for a historical appendix.

When do you hate it?

When words do not flow effortlessly onto the page. When the plot doesn’t work; the time sequences don’t match historical fact, but especially when interest in the chosen subject fades, and writing becomes a bore and a chore. This has happened rarely, but it has happened.

What is a regular writing day like for you? 

If I’m lucky, I have long periods when I can devote myself to writing. If I am enjoying what I am working on, those periods are joyful. However, most days are interrupted by phone calls, visiting friends, doctor or other appointments, and other duties. Then, I have to fit my writing in and around an obstacle course. If I am particularly excited about what I’m writing, I will devote my late evening (say 10:30ff) to writing and continue into the wee hours, up to 2:00, rarely to 3:00 AM. I always rise at 8:00 AM and sometimes, when necessary, earlier, so a 2:00 or a 3:00 AM night causes hardship the next day.

Do you think authors have big egos? Do you?  

Some do, some don’t. Egos vary with success, I think. I belong to a literary critique group, and we keep each other informed of our successes and our difficulties. We always help each other if possible, and we know each other quite well. But personalities and egos, obviously, differ. We have one member who has had to drop out of the group and move elsewhere, but who is quite successful, writing middle-school-age books. She has even had a TV film made based on one of them. She is still the same person—no inflated ego. One is writing creative nonfiction with much success. Maybe a flash of ego here and there, but mainly under control. Another is coming out with a new book this fall, her first, and still another has published with a small press about early 20th-century Texas. Two others are self-published with modest success, and I have published quite a bit with modest success. All in all, no inflated egos in sight.

How do you handle negative reviews?

My first reaction is hurt and disappointment. Then, if the reviewer has seen real flaws, I try to learn from it and avoid them in future. If the review was—objectively speaking—unjust, I feel anger. This is especially so if the negative reviewer has clearly not read the book, but publishes the negative review in a prominent journal or paper. I will grouse about it to my friends for a short time, and then let it go. Life’s too short to dwell on little bumps in the road.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author? 

Usually they express enough interest that I can hand them a bookmark with a tiny reproduction of my cover illustration and a blurb with my URL. Once they have that in hand (or those—I carry bookmarks for all my books in my purse), they are willing to engage in conversation about my books. I have rarely met a person who brushes me off. It happens only very occasionally.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break? 

I take a break. I enjoy walking or hiking, and sometimes take day trips to interesting places near San Antonio. This doesn’t happen often, because I do work out for an hour in the Olympic Gym three times a week and walk for an hour on the other days. That normally keeps my writing juices flowing.

Any writing quirks? 

Probably that I am willing to go to great lengths to research my topic before I write. I have delayed starting a novel for up to a year while building a firm foundation for my leap into prose. This has been especially true for the book I am now working on. I have spent weeks reading books on the subject and going through documents in the Alamo Historical Archive. Most authors probably don’t feel the obligation to go to such lengths.

Have you worked on your novel intoxicated? What was the result? 

Yes. Never blind drunk, obviously. The effect is that inhibitions are gone and the imagination is often freed to take flights it might not when sober. On the whole, I found that good ideas and good writing can result. I don’t do this often, however, since I don’t want to tip over into alcoholism!

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby? 

I’m in constant fear that the IRS will see my writing career as a hobby! I have had recent experience of a colleague from my days as professor, who spoke slightingly of my pulp fiction. I engaged him in a conversation about the issues raised by some of my books, and by the end of that he apologized for not taking me seriously. I have no idea what he really says behind my back, however.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?

Not really. If I hated it, I wouldn’t do it. I hear often about the “agony of writing” from authors with sterling reputations, but I have never found it so, and I thank God that my chosen occupation doesn’t make me suffer!

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money? 

No, since writing is a joy in itself for me. On the other hand, a little cash beyond my retirement annuity would be most welcome!

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

Write every day if possible. Set up specific times and a designated place that you can devote entirely to your writing. Know roughly what your plot is, but don’t outline, since your characters need the freedom to tell you where to go next. Edit your writing the morning after, then continue writing. Show your writing to friends and take their suggestions seriously. Join a critique group if possible. Once you are finished, let a couple of friends read your book. You’ll be amazed at the typos, syntactical snarls, and perhaps logical snafus they will find. Then re-edit. Most of all, enjoy what you’re doing, else you won’t carry through to the end.

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Promises KeptTitle:
 Promises Kept
Author: Scarlett Dunn
Publisher: Zebra
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Format: Kindle/Paperback

Lady of marriageable age with two young boys, in need of husband.
I am a good cook and hard worker. 
Victoria Eastman grew up in a Texas saloon–an experience that made her tough, resourceful, and determined to forge a new life. So she places an ad in a gentleman’s newspaper. . .and soon finds herself a suitable arrangement on a farm in Promise, Wyoming. Only problem is that her would-be husband turns up dead the day she arrives.
Rancher Colt McBride is known for his true grit and business smarts. Yet when it comes to his new neighbor, Victoria, he’s stumped: Who is she, really? She’s lovely to look at, of course, and has proven herself a gentle soul. She’s even causing him to question his staunch bachelorhood. But any kind of future may be shattered when a stranger reveals a secret about Victoria’s past–one that could destroy them both. Unless, together, they can take a leap of faith–right into each other’s arms. . .

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Scarlett DunnScarlett Dunn lives in Kentucky surrounded by all manner of wildlife, and enjoys long “God walks” where most inspiration strikes. Possessing an adventurous spirit, and a love of history, particularly the pioneers of the West, she has a special place in her heart for all cowboys, past and present. Readers can visit her website: www.scarlettdunn.com.

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lizzi_author_pix (1)Ken Lizzi is an attorney and the author of an assortment of published short stories. When not traveling – and he’d rather be traveling – he lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife Isa and their daughter, Victoria Valentina. He enjoys reading, homebrewing, and visiting new places. He loathes writing about himself in the third person. Connect with Ken on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Book:

In the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars, Under Strange Suns brings the sword-and-planet novel to the twenty-first century. War is a constant, and marooned on a distant world, former Special Forces soldier Aidan Carson learns there is nothing new Under Strange Suns.

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Only $.99 cents from August 25 – 28!

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, “Under Strange Suns.” To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?  

A: “Under Strange Suns” is the story of a burned-out, former Special Forces soldier hired to search for the lost inventor of the Faster-than-Light spaceship drive. You can blame this one on Edgar Rice Burroughs. ERB popularized the sword-and-planet genre with his “A Princess of Mars” back in 1912, the first of the John Carter stories. But what cut it with readers in 1912 might raise some eyebrows a hundred years later. So when I decided to dip my toe into the sword-and-planet genre, I knew that getting my characters to another world would require a bit more heavy lifting on my part. The resulting novel, “Under Strange Suns,” works the mechanism of space travel into the narrative itself, driving the plot (in addition to driving the characters to their destination.)

Q: What do you think makes a good science fiction novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: As with every story, the primary consideration is to entertain. With science fiction, a secondary requirement is novelty, or at least some twist on a familiar theme. And finally, the story must entertain. Yes, I used entertain for two slots. That factor is twice as important as any other.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: I worked out a moderately detailed outline, broken down into chapters and describing the events each chapter must cover. Once I began writing, the outline became more of a mission statement or list of suggestions. But most of the events described in the outline made it into the novel in one form or another.

UnderStrangeSuns_medQ: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Since the impetus for “Under Strange Suns” was “A Princess of Mars,” I knew the main character would be a soldier. Other than that, his character owes little or nothing to John Carter. I spent some time in uniform, many years ago, and did have the opportunity to train and hobnob with members of the Special Operations community. Aidan Carson’s personality is based to some extent on my foggy memories of those unique people.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: My villains are fanatics, true believers. The primary step required to make them realistic was reading the news. Other than that, I needed to show sincerity, that the villains truly believed their actions were not only justified, but moral, even laudable.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Know when to end the chapter. Cliff-hangers never go out of style, because they work. Try to leave the reader with a desire to find out what happens next.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: With an alien landscape as a setting, I tried to reinforce the novelty and unique aspects of the place. I used frequent repetition to reinforce the unearthly lighting that two suns would provide. I also employed intermittent description of alien flora and fauna to occasionally remind the reader he’s no longer in Kansas.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: I considered theme at the outlining stage and stuck with it. The theme, or related aspects, have cropped up in my other work, yes. But theme is secondary to the obligation to (say it with me) entertain.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: There’s a question for you. Something to hash out over a pitcher of beer. I’d suggest that from traditionally published debut writers up through the ranks of mid-list authors, craft predominates. Art dominating craft, for better or worse, is found among either the self-published or the best-selling traditionally published authors. In between those two poles, editors are going to push conventional narrative voice and technique. And in most cases, I’d guess, rightly so. But I’m just speculating here. And without that pitcher, damn it.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: A firm grasp of craft, perseverance, and the ability to entertain.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: No one ever paid me to do homework. I like this writing gig better. Less math.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Any book on craft is useful. I’ve read several. The good advice stands out by repetition from multiple sources.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Pay close attention to your editor. Even if you don’t agree with a suggestion, consider the reason for it.

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Tamed by the Outlaw and Just One Reason


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Title: Just One Reason
Author: Brooklyn Skye
Publisher: Entangled Lovestruck
Pages: 128
Genre: Romance
Format: Kindle

He’s more than she bargained for…

As far as Declan Waterford is concerned, women are off limits-at least until he can earn enough money for his brother’s surgery. The dueling piano gig at Vegas’s Masquerade hotel barely pays enough…but if Declan can convince his boss to promote him, he’ll be set. And the Senior VP of the hotel’s gorgeous daughter might just be the “in” Declan needs.

Between drowning in mistakes at her editorial internship and fighting off her father’s demands that she relocate to Vegas and join his hotel empire, Melody Sumner doesn’t have time for love-or one-night stands with sexy Irish piano players-no matter how appetizing Declan is. But even though she knows he’s only interested in her for one reason, the intense chemistry between them has her thinking dangerous thoughts…

ORDER INFORMATION

Just One Reason is available for order at  

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Brooklyn Skye grew up in a small town where she quickly realized writing was an escape from small town life. Really, she’s just your average awkward girl who’s obsessed with words. Follow her on Twitter @brooklyn__skye or visit her website for updates, teasers, giveaways, and more.

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Title: Tamed by the Outlaw
Author: Michelle Sharp
Publisher: Entangled Lovestruck
Pages: 114
Genre: Romance
Format: Kindle

He’s taking on the bad girl of romance…

Author Jessie Jameson is the Bad Girl of romance, making a huge name for herself writing love stories with sizzling hot sex scenes. No one needs to know that her real-life inspiration is sexy publishing exec Grayson Reynolds. Or that after the hottest sex of her life, Grayson walked out on her.

Grayson’s finally taken the reins of his family’s publishing business, and he’s determined to sell off the romance division. But Jessie Jameson’s contract is complicating things. It’s like she’s been trying to ruin him ever since the mind-blowing night they shared-the night she walked out on him.

Now the sparks are flying. Heated, sexy sparks. It’s a Wild West showdown between Jessie and Grayson. But when Romance ends up in bed with Business, only one can walk away…

ORDER INFORMATION

Tamed by the Outlaw is available for order at  

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Michelle Sharp

Award-winning author, Michelle Sharp, has been nominated for a 2014 National Readers Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense and Best First Book. In addition, her debut novel Dream Huntress has been selected as a finalist in the 2015 Daphne Du Maurier award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense.

Although she has a degree in Journalism from Southern Illinois University, she finds weaving tales of danger, deception, and love much preferable to reporting the cold, hard facts. Her goal in life? To team resilient, kickass heroines with the sexy Alpha’s who love them.

As most authors probably are, she is an avid reader. Growing up in St. Louis has made her a die-hard Cardinals fan, and having a child with Down Syndrome has made her passionate about all issues regarding special needs kiddos. She’s also a proud member of Romance Writers of America and Missouri Romance Writers. You can learn more about her at michelleshapbooks.com, where you will also find links to her social media.

For More Information

Visit Michelle’s website.

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Michelle and Brooklyn are  giving away a $10 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $10 Gift Certificate to Amazon or Barnes and Noble
  • This giveaway begins August 17 and ends on September 11.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on September 12.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

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SYNOPSIS

Morgan had resigned herself to death. She had been ready to follow her true love into the afterlife, if only a certain Dragon hadn’t “rescued” her. She wasn’t grateful – after all, she was a full-fledged Lady Knight and perfectly capable of making her own decisions, without the help of arrogant Dragon Lords, no matter how good-looking everyone seemed to think they were… 

After dragging Lady Morgan from a Troll’s lair and dropping her off in another realm, Vallen thought he’d never see her again. But then an old member of his Knight Order betrays her oaths and begins amassing an army of thugs and highwaymen – in the same realm he’d left Morgan. 

Racing back with only his brother for a squire, Vallen finds Lady Morgan, accompanied by a teenage Werewolf, ready to take on this Dragon all by herself. But it will take all of them to defeat her, and little do they know that in this battle, the secrets of their broken hearts will rise up from the past and walk again… 



PURCHASE

EXCERPT

Vallen awoke to the sounds of Young singing, off tune, again. “What are you doing?” Vallen grumbled, resisting the urge to pull the blanket back up over his head.

“Singing while I pee, my favorite morning ritual.” Young turned around, having just finished watering the local flora.

“Of course it is. Why ever would I have a brother who conducts himself with a measure of grace?” Vallen forced himself to sit up and take note of their surroundings. As he suspected, they had spent the night uninterrupted. Vallen tugged on his boots and fought his way to his feet to stagger to the stream.

“Are you ready to get going?” Young bounced around behind him, pulling a light coat on over his tunic.

“Are you always this chipper in the morning?”

“No.” Young thought about it. “Actually, today I think I’m sort of quiet.” Vallen mentally sent a heartfelt apology to Sir Leon for having to train Young.

“If your squire brothers smother you in your sleep I will know it was justified and not insist on seeing vengeance served.” Vallen rolled his bedroll back up and gave his younger brother a cutting glare. “It makes me thankful I was out defending the realm in your early years and Grandmother was left to deal with you.”

“I was an adorable Whelpling. She thought I was a refreshing joy after the years of boredom she had with you.” His mocking tone did little to soothe Vallen’s morning mood.

“It’s going to be very hard to be a bard if you’re missing your vocal chords.” Immediately Young shut up.

It took about an hour, but the boys fed themselves and the horses, packed up, and headed out. By the time the sun was dancing in the midmorning sky, Young was already whining for a break. Despite his best pouts, that had obviously worked so well on his riding instructor, they pushed on. Vallen told him repeatedly that they could rest when they arrived at the portal, but Young knew better.

“So what if we see the crazy girl again? I mean, if she’s still alive.”

Vallen shot his brother a warning look. “She isn’t our concern. Avery is our target. Our mission is to go in, put down Avery, disband her men, and then go home. It shouldn’t take all that long.”

“Yeah, but let’s say the crazy girl… what was her name?” Young asked, snapping his fingers.

“Lady Morgan.”

“Yes, that’s it. Her. What if she’s there and is all, ‘Oh, Dragon, eat me,’ or something like that. What then?”

“The eloquence of your words astounds me.” Vallen resisted rolling his eyes. “We keep her from killing herself if she is there. She is an innocent and thus should be protected.”

“I don’t know about that. She is evidently some all-powerful warrior or something.”

Vallen snorted. “You think everyone is an enchanted warrior. You think I am.”

“You are!”

“Fine, I’m a bad example. Why are you so sure she was?”

The Author

Isabelle’s Website / Twitter Facebook Goodreads / YouTube

Isabelle Saint-Michael currently lives abroad in Seoul, South Korea with a transition in process to the UK.  Writing is now her full-time gig, but she spent a number of years working in the online media industry.  (That’s when she upgraded her personality software from socialite to geek.)  Her hobbies include reading, shopping, travel, and medieval shenanigans with her closest friends.  She has earned such coveted nicknames as The Fighting Smurf, The Iz and Wiffle Ball Monkey Slayer.

From the author: “The Elven Life is a blog connecting a series of books and characters that I have created.  So many times we buy books but then must wait a year at least to get another fix.  In a world of immediate gratification I wanted to build an interactive way of storytelling for my readers.  Each book, along with the blog, is a free-standing story, but they will occasionally have connecting themes, characters, and messages for our fans to catch.  Check us out and keep watching!  Books will be available through Amazon, Kindle, and a retailer near you.”

Follow the entire TOUR HERE
 

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SYNOPSIS
 
Careful what you wish for…Sarah Schilling’s twelve year-old brother is wicked smart. But this? Pure genius. Brian snagged an invitation to spend the summer with their favorite aunt and uncle on St. Croix. Uncle Jack tells them, “There will probably be some swimming, some diving. We like to run. There’s a range, so maybe you’ll learn to shoot. Cooking. Your Aunt Helen is a classically trained chef. You knew that, right? There’s the Mallard seaplane, so maybe you’ll learn something about flying. T

hat sort of thing.”

That sort of thing sounds like too much work for Sarah Schilling’s summer on the beach. Until Brian’s scuba regulator mysteriously fails sixty feet underwater. Her training snaps into laser focus. During Brian’s rescue they unearth the 250 year-old secret of Black Bart—the pirate and his ghost. The discovery launches them into a hurricane of peril at the hands of modern-day pirates. The Schilling family will not survive unless Brian and Sarah discover the most powerful weapon that is within themselves.A Pirate’s Time Served is a YA thriller of a ghost story. It shows how two teens can dig deeper than they thought possible, discovering what it means to lead, to follow, and to never ever give up—especially on family.

A Pirate’s Time Served is my third novel. I wrote it while attending Stanford’s Writers School, Continuing Education. My second novel, God’s Banker, reached number eight on Amazon’s suspense list. I have also written eleven business books published by Simon & Schuster, Putnam, McGraw-Hill, Wiley, and Adams.

 
 
 
 
PURCHASE
 
 

EXCERPT

“Nice job, Jack,” says Helen as she pulls back the fluffy white summer comforter on her side of their bed. Then she pulls Jack’s T-shirt—the one with US Navy stenciled in gold on the front—over her head, sets it on the bed-side table and climbs in beside her husband. She sinks into bed with a comfortable sigh after a long day.

“What do you mean?”

Helen turns on her side, facing her husband, “I mean how you concocted your legend of Black Bart the pirate.” She chuckles as she squirms in up against Jack. “Planting that antique metal box with an animal skin treasure map inside. Then bringing Bill in for credibility. Priceless.”

“Bill is an expert on Caribbean pirates,” says Jack.

“That’s what is so perfect about casting him. What I don’t understand is how you managed to get Brian’s air turned off this afternoon. Sara’s in on it, right?”

Out the open window the full moon cast a silvery shine like a ribbon-straight road on the water as it leads straight into Bart’s Cove. “Hon, the legend of Black Bart is a historical fact. Neither Bill nor I are cast members and nobody planted the metal box that Brian and Sarah found this afternoon.”

Helen lies there and says, “I checked on the kids. Right now Brian and Sarah are both sitting at the kitchen table mapping out how they’re going to get Bart’s treasure. Can you imagine?” But she is talking to an empty bed. Jack has already left for the kitchen.

 “What might you be havin’ in mind there, laddy?” asks Jack in his guttural pirate’s voice.

I lay down my pencil. “Well, I’m thinking, what does Bart want?”

“He wants to kill us,” says Jack, “he’s tried twice already.”

“If he wanted us dead he’d have done it by now,” says Sarah. “Underwater is a dangerous place. He could have done it any number of ways.” “Then what?” asks Jack.

We’re sitting under the soft light of the lamp hanging over the kitchen table. Sounds of splashes from the fish jumping in the lagoon come through the open window. A warm breeze blows in off the ocean. I start, “Bart is just scaring us. He really wants us to just leave him alone. But now we have something that belongs to him—”

“The metal box with his treasure map,” says Jack.

“Exactly,” I reply. “And he wants it back. So let’s give it to him.”

Uncle Jack raises an eyebrow. “Don’t you want to find his treasure?”

“Brian thinks we can get Bart to help us find it if we ask politely—”

“The map may not be accurate,” I say. “Back then pirates were not map makers.”

“Cartographers,” corrects Jack.

“Right. Look here, Bart’s map only shows three islands out there and he didn’t name them.”

“He buried his treasure on three islands to spread his risk,” says Jack.

Sara says, “Yes, but there are other islands in this part of the Caribbean. We checked the naval charts. There’s St. Thomas and St. John, of course. Then there are Saba, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Martinique, St.

Lucia—”

“Got it,” says Jack. He scans the map again. “Bart’s three islands all could be about the same distance from our cove as any of the closer islands. We don’t know.”

“Right,” I say. “But we three know someone who does.”

Uncle Jack nods his head, “Black Bart. So we need him to interpret his own map?”

“Listen to my theory,” I say. “Bart made this map for himself in case he forgot. He probably figured he would never forget which islands he used, so he didn’t label them on the map. Once we find the correct islands, his notes of direction and distance from shore look pretty good. It’s just finding the right islands that’s the problem.”

“So how are you two going to enlist the late Bartholomew Roberts’ help?

What’s in it for him?”

“Brian and I thought we’d just ask him.”

“Sarah is right,” I agree. “What’s in it for him is a chance to spend his treasure.”

Uncle Jack lays his hands on the table, “He’s a ghost. He can’t spend his treasure.”

“We’ll do it for him,” reasons Sarah. “We’ll take his share and spend it on something really good. He can’t use a fancy car or a boat or any earthly possession really. But maybe we’ll use his share to build a school or a hospital if we find enough of his loot. It’ll give him a new place to hang out.”

My Uncle Jack sits there staring at the map, then at both Sarah and me. For a long time no one speaks. The two dogs, Carrie and Dove, suddenly jump up from their dog beds. The sharp knock on the door makes all three of us jump. Then the back door creaks open. Both dogs stand there wagging their tails in greeting.

“I saw your light from across the cove,” says Bill Lama. “I was too agitated to sleep. Figured you were too. So I thought I’d come over. What’s up?”

I run through my idea of enlisting Bart’s help to find his treasure and what we might do with it once we find it.

Bill sits there listening. When we finish he asks, “How do you intend to communicate with Bart?”

“Ah, we haven’t got that far.” Then I ask, “How do you talk to a pirate ghost?”

The air from my tank hisses into the air hose. I glance down at my dive watch—midnight. The full moon lights up the dock and the lagoon before us in a silvery glimmer. Still, it’s creepy. Uncle Jack turns on the underwater lights. Suddenly I can see the bottom stretch out into the lagoon. There is Merryweather, sitting upright and bathed in a white glow. All of her corals look like brightly colored overgrown decorations—orange, purple, red, blue. What must she look like from the air, all lit up at night? We are four divers doing a night dive to talk with a ghost.

Bill already has his tank and fins on. He’s sitting there on the edge of the dock, fins hanging over the side into the water with his mask resting on his forehead. “Here’s what we’re out to accomplish,” he says. “First, as young Brian said, we’re returning Bart’s metal box with his treasure map back to where he found it. Since Brian took it, he’s the one returning it.”

“Then, we’re going to try communicating with Bart’s ghost. It may not work.

Probably won’t. But we’re going to give it a try.

“I need you to believe, really believe that Bart’s ghost exists. Our intentions are pure—we’re returning something we should not have taken in the first place. Keep thinking that way. There must be kindness in your heart. We are here on a mission to help Bart’s ghost. Notice any cold or warm places when we’re down there on Merryweather. Let me know if you get tingles or prickles on the back of your neck. If you get scared or apprehensive, let me know that too. Above all, listen. It’ll be noisy down there with your bubbles and the fish making their sounds. But listen for anything out of the ordinary.” “Like what?” Sarah asks.

Bill shrugs his shoulders. “Don’t know. I’ve never talked to a ghost before. If

Bart is down there, he just may want to chat. Ready?”

Uncle Jack, Sarah and I all nod our heads. I reach behind Sarah’s tank and make sure her air is on. She does the same for me. I check my pressure gauge to be sure my tank is full to the max of 3,000 pounds (pounds per square inch of air pressure). All three of us lean over the dock and just fall into the warm water, leaving Carrie and Dove laying on the dock watching us leave.

A night dive is much different than in the day. First off, some of the fish are just hanging there in the water, asleep. Some—like the king crabs—are out walking around looking for something to eat. Bill takes the lead. I’ve made this trip enough times that I know some of the landmarks down here. Our swim takes just a few minutes. Soon Merryweather looms into view. She’s lit up from bow to stern with the underwater lights Uncle Jack installed. The old lady is a riot of color.

Merryweather’s rudder glows, buried in the sandy seabed beneath the glare of Uncle Jack’s underwater lights. It towers upward, rising up out of the light and into the darkness overhead. The only sounds are popping noises the fish make and the rush of air from our tanks followed by the explosion of bubbles as we exhale. Uncle Jack, Bill, Sarah and I form a circle, kneeling in the soft sand near Merryweather’s rudder where I found the box with the map. Sarah grabs Bill’s hand on one side and mine on the other as if we’re at a séance.

Imagine, midnight, sixty feet underwater. We’ve been waiting down here for fifty minutes already to maybe see the ghost of Black Bart, the pirate. My tank was full when I submerged—3,000 pounds of pressure. Now my air gauge shows 550 pounds of pressure—near where I should think about surfacing.

Then the current shoves me. Goose bumps rise on my arms and the hair on the back of my neck stands up. All of us look at one another.

Bill is the famous expert on the supernatural. He uses a grease pencil to write on the waterproof white board—about the size of an iPad—he brought down here for just this purpose:

“Don’t move”

Then, “Welcome Capt. Roberts”

My air gauge now shows just 350 pounds of pressure left in my tank. Past time to surface. A few big breaths would exhaust my tank. If that happens I’ll run out of air down here.

Another minute passes. I look again at my air gauge—well in the red, just 219 pounds now. My heart beats faster; breathing accelerates. Still, Bill told us not to move. And I’m not leaving without returning Black Bart’s box and treasure map. He’s plenty pissed off that I took it. The next visit he might actually kill someone rather than just scare us. I try taking slow, shallow breaths. Impossible. I want a huge gulp of air. I can see Uncle Jack’s air gauge beside me. He has over 1,000 pounds of pressure left. Plenty for us both. He’s a more experienced diver who doesn’t over breathe getting excited. Unlike me.

Then it happens. At first it’s just letters in the sandy bottom. If it really is Black Bart, he’s staying invisible for now. Then entire words appear in the sand:

“Why ye be botherin’ me?”

Bill writes on his white board: “Returning box & map”

Bart’s earlier words suddenly sink into the sand. They’re replaced with:

“I be upset. The map be mine. The box too. Why’d ye take them?”

Bill writes furiously: “Didn’t know”

“Ye shouldn’t take what don’t belong to ye.”

“Sorry” Then Bill waits for the response to appear again in the sand.

If I didn’t see this with my own two eyes I wouldn’t have believed it. I set the old, dented metal box containing the treasure map in the center of our circle. The sandy bottom opens up and immediately swallows it without a trace. In its place on the sandy bottom is:

“No harm done, I guess. Hearty thanks for returnin’ me property.”

Little dots explode before my eyes from the shallow breaths. I urgently tap Uncle Jack’s leg and hold up my air gauge. I don’t want to spook the spook. Jack nods, then reaches into the pocket of his buoyancy compensator and hands me his spare safety regulator. Problem solved. I take my first deep breath in minutes and immediately feel better. I flash a quick OK sign to Jack. He nods. We keep kneeling there in the sand, unmoving. I watch Bill write again on his white board:

 “We want to help you”

 “And how might ye go about doin’ that?” writes Bart in the sand.

“Spend your treasure wisely”

“Aye. That be mighty considerate. Talk more. Meet up with ye on the dock.” Bart’s words appear in the sand, then slowly fade away. He’s gone.

Black Bart’s ghost is amphibian? Of course he is. He’s a ghost. What’s this 250 year-old pirate ghost look like? Seems we’re about to find out.

When we surface Jack whispers in my ear, “Good job on the air management, Brian. We were down a long time. That’s why you ran low. Don’t mention your little air problem to Helen. She’ll gut both of us with the fish boning knife. We good?” Then Uncle Jack raises his hand up out of the water for me to shake, sealing our secret pact.

 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Chris’s
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Chris Malburg is a widely published author, with work spread over 11 popular business books–including How to Fire Your Boss (Berkley) and Surviving the Bond Bear Market (Wiley, March 2011).  In his other life, Chris is a CPA/MBA, a former investment banker and now the CEO of Writers Resource Group, Inc., providers of professional financial literary content to corporations (www.WritersResourceGroup.com).  That’s the professional side of Chris’ career.  The fun side began when UCLA’s Writers’ school taught him to transition from biz-speak to fiction. GOD’S BANKER and the first installment in the Enforcement Division series, DEADLY ACCELERATION, both combine Chris’ natural talent for story telling with his professional command of the high-stakes investment world and what money and power do to some people. 

GOD’S BANKER  came to fruition from Chris’ hospital bed while recuperating from an athletic injury.  As a long-time endurance athlete, Chris is no stranger to the surgeon’scalpal.  Over 130,000 words later, GOD’S BANKERwas complete.  “It just poured out me,” says the author.  “I carried my note pad to physical therapy; made plot notes during the hours in the gym doing rehab; even while on my long bicycle rides through the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean where we live.  Slowly endurance returned and with it, GOD’S BANKER.”

Chris Malburg lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Marilyn.  Their hobby is raising service dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind.  As of this writing, they have raised eight Labrador retrievers and have had three make the cut for placement with their disabled partners.

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