Archive for August 24th, 2015


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… 



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.”

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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.



“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.


“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.

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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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