Books, Books and More Books!!

Books, Books and More Books!!
Publications from Taki Drake

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Next Book in the Familiar Magic Series is Unfamiliar Pathways !

Snippet Sunday!
The book is coming along, with TT and Jack on a mission. Here is a snippet to remind you of the story! Please remember that this is unedited!

--------------- FAMM Snippet 03 -----------------------
“I worry too,” said Zhanna to her grandmother, “I know that you have tried to see how those we had to leave behind are doing. Have you had any success? Do you know anything that has happened?”

“Nothing yet. My scrying into that world is getting better, but it’s still very fragmented. I’m afraid that part of my difficulty is the terror that I have in my heart for our old world.”

“I wish there were something I could do, but Star Child Grace was very clear. I cannot go back.”

Zhanna’s Baba reached a comforting hand over to clasp her granddaughter’s wrist. Opening her mouth to say something, a sudden flash of light changed the color of the Seer’s eyes and her expression altered.

The voice that emerged from the old woman’s mouth was different than the smooth and warm tones that Zhanna loved. Instead, a harder, harsher sound came out, “Beware the changes. They are coming for the good and the evil. Sadness rides their coattails while destruction becomes protection. Love and sacrifice fuel their energy, fearful in its power. You will see arrivals and departures in the days ahead. Take each as if it were your loved ones’ last moment, for they tread an unfamiliar pathway. One that you cannot travel with them.”

Zhanna gasped in shock, the words hitting her like blows. A split second later, the light disappeared from Baba’s eyes, and the old woman’s unconscious form pitched forward toward the table. Shedding her chair with a force that sent it clattering to the ground behind her, Zhanna caught her grandmother in her arms.
Instantly, Dascha and several of the Hidden Folk were in the room, providing extra support and asking excited questions. Dascha pushed the hardest, demanding across their bond, << What happened? Who was talking? >>

<< Baba had a vision and a Power spoke through her. >>

<< Oh, that doesn’t sound good. >>

<< Later. We need to talk about it later. >>

After a very short time, Zhanna’s Baba roused enough for her granddaughter and the other helpers to get her into bed. The exhausted Seer was so tired that she fell asleep before Zhanna could even kiss her goodnight. Worried, Zhanna looked down at the woman she loved more than any other person in the world and noticed how frail she was.

“Don’t worry, we will stay with Baba,” said Noma.

“Thank you. Please let me know if you need anything or if something more happens!”

Feeling a fog of concerns and worries following her like a starving dog, Zhanna left her grandmother tucked in the bed, watched by Noma and another one of the Hidden Folk. Guilt and a desire to help fought with the knowledge that she didn’t have to do everything herself.

In this case, knowledge won, but Zhanna was unable to shrug off the feeling of impending disaster. Joining her, Dascha remarked, << I am very worried about that prophecy and TT. It has all the stink of someone interfering in our lives. >>

<< Again. >>

<< Yes, again. >>
----------------------- end Snippet 01 FAMM ----------------------

The Next Book in the Unfettered Mage is Social Combat!

Snippet Sunday! 

Here is a snippet from it! Remember, it is unedited and may be different when the story is published!
-------------- TUFM Snippet 01 SC -----------------------
The ForceX Bar was having its own Founders’ Day celebration. There were so many people that the building was unable to hold all of them, and tables had been set up outside in the street along the entire block. As was traditional, this day was one when had many roadways in Arkken Port were entirely or partially closed off, and almost every tavern and bar in the entire port took advantage of that.

This was the most popular of the planet-wide celebrations. Typically, the weather was good, and everyone could wander in and out of the buildings without being concerned about too much heat or the dangers of snow and ice. This day was no exception to that expectation.

To celebrate the freedom that the weather had most graciously granted them, the bar’s doors were all propped open so that people in a convivial mood could swirl in and out, talking to different groups of friends without having to juggle their drinking glasses and door handles.

According to Luka, the head bartender, they had planned for double the number of usual customers. The bouncers pegged it roughly closer to ten times the number of people stopping in to chat with each other and staying to drink and eat. Ruth and Pawlik had wondered about the press of people, but when Pawlik pointed out that there were a large number of demobbed Space Force people in the crowd, Ruth understood immediately.

Luckily, Luka had laid on far more food and drink than they currently had customers, although some of the Mage’s security team had noticed that no less than three fast supply runs had already been made.

Bending over to make a comment to Ruth, Margot murmured, “I know that word of the shooting competition has gotten around. It is very seldom that a competition of this sort can be held where everybody can see. Considering how many mercenaries and former Navy spacers we have in the crowd, let alone talking about all the Marines, there are a lot of people here that want to evaluate some of the announced contestants.”

Ruth laughed, murmuring back, “I assume you are talking about how many people want to see you shoot!”

“No, there is such an interesting mix of people that have entered the competition that I have heard that there are even people coming from off-planet to watch. We have noblemen, mercenaries, former Marines, and even people that design weapons for a living.”

“I do not think Pawlik has heard about all the unexpected attendees. I wonder what he would say if he knew?” mused Ruth in a thoughtful voice. Suddenly smiling a gleeful, broad grin, she added, “I do not believe we should tell him. It can be a surprise.”

Exchanging glances, the Mage and the cohead of her personal security detail both wore gloating expressions. Margot fought back laughter as she added, “After all, you are sponsoring a very unusual take on a shooting competition. Not only are you providing a winning purse for the top three ranked people, but anyone entered into the contest will have a chance to fire some of the newest guns from Victin’s company.”

“It is the least we could do, after all the help that Victin has given us. Besides which, I want to make sure that his company gets all the good press that it can.”

Margot quirked her right eyebrow at her liege Lady, saying severely, “You are not fooling anyone. Otherwise, you would not also be demonstrating some of the latest toys that Hiroko Mishi has built for us. That is just going to make some of the people die of envy.”

Ruth smiled transformed into something a lot sadder and somehow harder before she said, “That was the best way I have of warning people in general that they should not be attacking us. Between the weapons and armor, I am hoping that the message gets passed around.”
Suddenly thoughtful, the two women went back to observing the crowd in silence.

A whirring sound and the parting of the crowd heralded the advance of Alan Culhane, the man that Ruth and Pawlik had picked to head up their nascent intelligence and military strategy group. Although paralyzed from the waist down, the vigorous looking man was a real force to be reckoned with and every Marine that Arkken had respected the man tremendously.

“Hi, Alan, have you decided if you are going to enter the contest or not?” asked Ruth.

“I am having problems deciding. Typically, officers do not engage in competition with the troops. It is not a good thing either way. On one side, you could win and make the people who are on the sharp end every day look bad. The other way, someone beats you, and you look less capable. It does not seem to me that there is any way that entering the competition could be beneficial for me to show off my shooting skills.”

Ruth’s voice was a little sharp as she answered, “I do not agree with you. Showing that you are competent will communicate that you have reasonable expectations when you send your troops into something where they have to fire a weapon. If you are less then perfect, it teaches them a valuable lesson that no matter how much experience you have or how good you think you are, there is always somebody who might be better.”

Alan stared at the Mage wordlessly for a few seconds. Ruth was not sure what he was looking for, but his intense stare into her eyes felt like he was trying to pull information out of the depths of her soul. Sliding into an internal calm space, the Mage waited for his response.

“My Lady Mage,” Alan said formally, “I believe that you are right.”

The hover chair pivoted as sharply as the Marine commander that Alan used to be had ever done, before moving toward the sign-up table outside.

Ruth and Margot looked at each other as identical grins grew and broadened on their faces.
-------------- End TUFM Snippet 01 SC -----------------------

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Bridge of Honor Snippet - Next Standard of Honor Backbone Novel

Time for a Saturday Snippet! This one is from the next Standard of Honor mainline book - Bridge to Honor. I hope you enjoy it - Zhanna and Dascha are having LOTS of adventure and action!

Remember - this is not edited and my change before publication!

------------------------Snippet 01-------------------------

The air was thick with perfume. Zhanna could smell some of her favorite flowers from back home, but there were other, more exotic odors that teased her nostrils and set her afire with curiosity. The smell was sweet, but the sad young woman was conscious that every day she was reminded that this was not home. Home but not home, the differences sometimes scraping her nerves like sharp fingernails down an open wound.

Here in the garden, she could sometimes forget the strangeness and the desperate need to adjust to a new world that she woke up with every morning and carried into her slumber at night. Here, the garden was quiet, and she could find peace.

Zhanna and her Familiar, Dascha, sat in the unusually warm sunlight on a bench near one of the ponds that had developed over the last couple weeks in her backyard. If she turned and looked closely, Zhanna could see the structure of her house from here. << How can I call it home, when it is so huge? Perhaps palace would be a better term. >>

<< Stop working yourself into a tizzy! My Witch, things have changed, but at least we are alive! >>

<< You are right, Dascha. I just feel like I’m a child in grown-up clothing, and pretty soon, everyone’s going to know that I’m not up to my responsibilities. >>

Zhanna felt the deep vibration of her Familiar’s purr. It was like an aural hug that communicated all of Dascha's love and belief. The weary young Witch relaxed into that sensation, treasuring the affection and letting the soothing sound of the resonant hum relax her tense muscles and enclose her in arms of peace.

Lost in that ease, Zhanna felt a sharp pang of danger and Dascha’s mental whisper of warning. The cat said, << Zhanna, be cautious and do not move quickly. Please stay calm and carefully open up your eyes. >>

<< What?! >>

<< Please, my Witch. Do exactly what I tell you. >>

Zhanna could never remember a time when Dascha had sounded so wary, even frightened. Even amid battle, her Familiar had never sounded this way. Unsure and terrified.

The young Witch carefully opened her eyes and began to straighten her spine. As her eyes started to focus, the surprising presence of a small creature directly in front of her yanked on her control like a runaway horse attempting to flee a horrific enemy. Blinking several times to clear her vision, Zhanna stared in amazement at what had to be an unknown species of Hidden Folk standing in front of her.

The small creature was less than 2 feet tall, with eyes of a glowing blue and with a striped pelt. Heavily furred, it would have looked cuddly like a child’s toy if it had not been armed with two wicked looking blades. One was a saw-toothed dagger that looked like a sword in the creature’s hands, while the other a triple-bladed stiletto. The paws that held them were rock steady, and the balanced stance told her that she was looking at a fighter.

Zhanna caught the eyes of the Hidden Folk in her own and saw buried fear and iron determination in the glowing orbs’ depth. Despite the characteristics that made Zhanna think of stuffed toys and dolls, she knew this creature was dangerous.

The silence dragged on until the young Witch regained her equilibrium enough to ask, “What is it that you seek? Also, why do you approach me with a show of deadly force?”

The shock of her speech drew an involuntary gasp from her Familiar and a startled blinking from her visible opponent.

Zhanna spoke mentally to Dascha, saying, << Dascha, I doubt if there is only one. If this were an assassin, they would have already hurt me. See if you can sense any other stranger in the area. >>

Still frozen in place, the would-be attacker and Zhanna kept gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. After a few seconds, Dascha answered her Witch, saying, << Three others. Two in the undergrowth to your right by the edge of the pond and one up on the left in a tree. The one in the tree appears to have a bow. >>

There was still no sound or reaction from the fighter standing within stabbing distance of Zhanna. Deciding that her response had shocked the Hidden Folk stranger, Zhanna tried one more time, asking, “What is it that you seek?”

Finally, the stranger responded, speaking in an understandable, high voice, “What sort of Witch are you? You do not stink of corruption like a Blood Mage. But you are not frightened and hiding like one of the Nature Witches that cower in order to survive.”

Startled in turn by the fact that the Hidden Folk spoke understandably, Zhanna answered as best she could, “I am Zhanna Artyrofna, a Witch of a different world and time. Unfortunately, I don’t know how magic users are classified in this world, so I cannot tell you what type I am in a manner that will make sense to you. Perhaps, if you explained the names of the different types of witches, I can be more informative.”

Dropping the blade tips down from a battle-ready position, the small creature took two steps closer to Zhanna. The two, stranger and Witch, were so close together that the young Witch could feel the air movement as the little one took a deep breath, inhaling her scent.

<< Zhanna, the Hidden Folk fighter is exhausted. If I didn’t know better, I would say that she is in battle shock. >>

<< I agree. I’ve seen too many others that have suffered from the same thing. >>

Spinning so abruptly that Zhanna almost shot to her feet, the small fighter turned toward the group that Dascha had identified near the pond shore and shouted, “Martya, she is not a Blood Mage. I am not sure what she is, but she has no stench of evil, and she has a Familiar.”

Zhanna took a breath in, partially in relief, and also to provide her the air necessary to speak when every word that she thought to say was erased from her brain as a terrified and exhausted young girl of no more than five crawled out of the underbrush and stood up.

Both Dascha and Zhanna watched in stunned amazement as the little girl scrambled to her feet, and charged toward the seated Witch, crying, “Please, please, help my Baba and the others. We have been hiding and running, and they have almost caught up with us. Baba has been hiding everyone so that the bad men cannot see us, but she is very tired. Please don’t let my Baba die too.”
------------- End of Snippet 01 -----------

Friday, October 25, 2019

My short stories are on both Wenebojo and in Halloween Anthologies!

I really appreciate the fact that I have some of my short stories going up on the bookcast streaming service, Wenebojo. I had two episodes of Traditions of Childhood, from the Unfettered Mage series that were free for a day, and all of my stories that are in the three Halloween anthologies being rolled out within a month.

Being part of something that makes stories more accessible to people, irrespective of their ability to read quickly or challenges they might have hearing and seeing, is very rewarding.

I hope you have time to visit I know that my readers that have signed up for the subscription service are delighted with it. Many of them have children or grandchildren and the license that allows four users at a time is very cost-effective for them.

We have been told that there will continue to be a free episode available leading up to Thanksgiving in the US. Instead of only having one day to experience the bookcast episode, the November-featured episodes and authors will be changed every other day.

Here is the video that Wenebojo just published and if you would like to see the anthologies, they are available on Amazon. They are Tricky Treats, Haunted Hearts, and Treated to Tricks.