I have been lucky enough to be included in the initial group that will be involved in the launch of a new streaming service. One that fits with my philosophy of life and how I like to experience stories. It is set to launch in late summer, and with all the patents, trademarks, and other corporate stuff done, the authors involved have been given permission to tell their readers. Some of my books will be featured on this, and the tests are AMAZING. We will be having more to share soon, but I have wanted to tell you about this for months!
Here is the first public announcement of the new streaming service. I hope you get as excited as I have been!
Things are getting busy at the BHB. The Building Doucet has a new Anchor, a talented Clothier by the name of Genevieve. This short book introduces the Clothier and gives hints of how she will be contributing to the BHB family. You can find the book here.
I hope that you enjoy the story. It was lots of fun to write! Hopefully, this will entertain you for a little bit as Coven Codex in the Russian Witch series gets finished. It is the next book to hit the editors, followed by another BHB story which includes Agatha from TS Paul's Federal Witch World.
Must write faster! That phrase keeps running through my brain! Faster, better, more deeply. So crawling back into my writing hole!
Here is a small snippet from the book. It tells the story of another of the building Anchors, one that is called to the BH. Look for the book in the next few days!
Genevieve spun around, her back pressed against the door. What had she gotten herself into? Fright had distilled all of the rage out of her, leaving her cold and shaky from the reaction. Dragged into watchfulness, she began to notice her surroundings in more detail. Instead of the street that she expected, she stood in the hallway. Bricks on the floor, arched walls to either side, nothing that she would’ve expected to find in a city.
There was a small amount of light, only enough to allow her to see her feet and the path on which she stood. The hallway felt like it was closing in on her, slowly getting narrower and narrower. The feeling of encroachment wasn’t improved at all by the tendrils of that same oily-looking fog that seemed to seep from crevices and cracks along the arched sides of the corridor.
Genevieve found her skin reacting to the thought of being touched by that fog. Some part of her, buried deep, rebelled at the very concept of the fog and she wanted nothing to do with it. The swirling movement screamed danger to her, and she glanced around wildly looking for a direction to escape.
No branching of the corridor was visible, and it was definitely getting narrower. The fog was building up on either side of where Genevieve stood trembling. Her tension increased with every inch that it crept closer.
The frightened and disoriented woman could see a light, a warm golden glow that shone from the end of the short corridor. Making an instinctual, swift decision, Genevieve set out at a fast walk toward that beacon. As she got closer to the light, she noticed that the glow was emitted by a fixture beside the door that was clean and polished. It had the look of a well-cared-for house or business, with a high-sheen mahogany color and graceful brass handle.
Driven by nervousness and gut-destroying fear, Genevieve found her steps coming faster. By the time she reached the closed door, she was traveling practically at a run. Taking a moment for a deep breath, she turned to look back at the rusty entry door and saw that the fog had chased her. Feeling the desperation of a mouse that is cornered by a cat, and driven by a soul-deep dread of being touched by the fog, Genevieve yanked the mahogany door open and rushed through. Totally oblivious to where she had arrived, she slammed the door shut and leaned against it, taking deep shuddering breaths.
Any scene that she would’ve listed on her expectations would have been inadequate to describe where she stood. This truly was the last place she thought she would ever stand. She felt the blood drain from her face as the shapes around her came into focus. She was in a bar, a tavern. A place where no well-bred woman would step. She tried to slow her panicked shallow breathing. No good would come of her fainting, she lectured herself.
Genevieve squared her shoulders and pressed her knees together to keep them from knocking. She was a modern woman, a respected widow. Her chin went up. If she decided to step into a bar, she would do so and dare anyone to shame her.
-------------------------------------------End of Snippet 01-------------------------------------
I get notes each day about readers wanted the next book more quickly. About how I need to write faster. Believe me, I am trying! To help stave off the pain of waiting, here is a snippet from a book in the Badger Hole Bar series, called In Fire Forged. It has the story behind Agatha, the FBI Witch and Zhanna, the Russian one, and their "summer vacation." This snippet is unedited and may change slightly before the book is released. However, I wanted you to know that I am hard at work on writing FASTER!!
Snippet 01 - In Fire Forged
Agatha watched Fergus as he danced around on
the floor, darting among the boots of spacemen
and the softer shoes of the nonmilitary types that were drinking in the Badger
Hole Bar. At first, she had no idea why he was traveling such a labyrinth pathway but then realized something. Shadowing
him and carefully staying about three feet away was the spiderkat. The creature seemed obsessed with Fergus. And her
Familiar knew it.
Even knowing that Fergus could not be
permanently harmed by the creature, Agatha had started to rise from her chair
to go to his rescue when the short, Mongolian-looking man sitting next to her
put his hand lightly on her forearm.
“No harm will come to your partner. Clingon is interested and intrigued. He will do
no harm although I think they are both playing a game.”
Agatha stopped moving and looked at the man,
saying, “All right, I guess I can stop worrying. It is just that I’m not used
to him running around in a crowd of
people like this.”
“Perhaps, it is that he feels the same sense
of safety here that most of us feel.”
“He has been safe before and hasn’t acted like
this. I was just worried about why he was acting so strangely.”
The man made a tight, twisted grimace that the
young witch could not interpret and settled a bit deeper into his seat. Cocking
his head and looking carefully at Agatha, he said, “Some of it also may be a
difference in perceptions and acceptance. Here, he is not an oddity but simply
his own being. He is not the weirdest or
most outrageous being in the room, so he
does not stand out. Also, he sees that all that come here are accepted as who they are without judgment.”
Agatha had opened her mouth to say something
and stopped. Thinking about what the man had said, she realized that Fergus was
always “her” familiar. Very seldom was he treated as his own person. A flash of
guilt ran through her as she realized that in some ways she treated Fergus as
if he was only an extension of her rather
than a fully separate being. It is too
easy to start thinking that way, she thought to herself.
Turning her eyes back to the unicorn, she saw
that he was now up on the game table next to one of the card players. The table
had been full of card players for the entire time that Agatha and Fergus had
been in the bar, rotating people as they came and went. It was in a shadowed
back corner, an island of ordered interaction that seemed to absorb any attempt
to disrupt it.
Barely visible in the subtle lighting, the
spiderkat clung to the wall less than six feet from the table. His glowing eyes tracked the blue-maned unicorn, and his tail twitched with
every movement that Fergus made.
Fergus was intently watching the hand of one
of the players, silent but alert. That in itself was weird enough that
Agatha started once more to go check on him. The gentle hand on her forearm
stopped her again.
Looking from the hand up to its owner’s face,
she asked the short, yellow-skinned man,
“Is it something that you wanted?”
Desperately praying that he was not hitting on
her, Agatha was surprised when he said, “Yes. I understand that you are here
partially to explore some options for training and education, just like your
responded, “Yes, my responsibilities at home are changing, and it has been very
made very plain to me that while I have good power in my magic and have been
trained in certain areas of knowledge, that I need more of both. If I am to not
let my team down, I need to develop different skills and also train my magic
use for different tactical solutions.”
“Then I am correct in that your objectives are
to broaden your understanding of strategy and increase your skills of field
“Yes, mostly. I am not in a mercenary
position, nor am I really dealing with large strategic battles. However, I need
to understand how to manage and deploy my team in conflict situations, and I don’t think that I am the best I can be
Just then the cheerful waitress zoomed over to
the table and flashed them a big smile.
Agatha couldn’t help smiling back at her, and she noticed that her companion was also
responding with a small grin. The warmth and caring that radiated off the
waitress was something that no one seemed to resist. Agatha felt her body
relaxing for the first time in a long time, and
she took a deep breath.
The waitress asked, “Time for refills?”
When both Agatha and her companion nodded
their heads in agreement, the waitress, whose name was Wynn, asked, “Same thing
for both of you?”
Once again, Wynn got their nods of acceptance,
and with the speed of a darting bee, the
woman was off at a run back to the bar for their drinks. Calling ahead to the
bartender as she moved, the woman announced, “Brechal, I need a refill on white wine and a tankard of Arkhi!”
Agatha still had a smile on her face when she
turned back to her companion. It suddenly occurred to her that she didn’t even
know the man’s name. Unsure about how to
ask him tactfully, the young witch just bumbled through it, face red in
embarrassment. “I am terribly sorry, but I don’t know your name. My name is
The man smiled, and said, “Most of my friends
call me Subu or Wardog. You may choose what you prefer.”
------------------------- end of snippet 01 ---------------------
I keep posting about the dogs, and the cats have decided to complain. Which can be very loud as those that have and love their cats well know. My household has both, cats and dogs. It keeps it interesting between the "direction" of the cats and the enthusiasm and unbridled ability to get into mischief of the dogs.
We have one very old cat and one that is around 5 years old. They are the main feature in the short story that is posted below. I will only leave this story up for a couple of days since it is part of a different publication plan. However, between the posting of the pictures on Facebook and the story here, the cats may JUST stop yowling.
The story is a fictionalized retelling of real events. I hope you find it amusing! Now back to editing BHB Grand Opening!
Belgarion and Kaga say "Hi!"
Enjoy Gazillipede! It is not often that I write straight humor, so please let me know if you like it!
The story has been taken down, as I had planned. Look for another one in a few weeks!
What is on the slate for February from Taki Drake? The answer is LOTS. The BHB will see at least two new publications - Grand Opening and Remembrance Wall. The Russian Witch series is getting Coven Codex. And the Unfettered Mage will be adding Fleet Genesis to the series. A few more publications with short stories in them, and possibly the first in the full books in the BattleMage Investigates series.
Here is a bit from where I am in the book. This scene had my blood pumping hard and my muscles twitching!
Note - This is NOT edited. If typos offend you, please wait until the book publishes. If they do not, please read and feel free to make comments!
Each breath burned in her throat, leaving fiery trails of
pain that radiated throughout the rest of her body. Zhanna could hear her own gasping
inhalations, distant and seeming to come
from another body.
Focus. She needed to focus.
Struggling to stay upright, the young witch staggered under
the combined burden of two unconscious bodies. She had no time for worry, no
time to give in to the desperate fear that she could feel battering against her
defenses. Mikhail and her Familiar, her beloved Dascha, just had to be all
At least she could hear Dascha’s breathing, could feel an
occasional twitch of the cat’s tail or leg. She had the comfort of the active Familiar bond, although it was a faint and
pale shadow of its normal robust energy and presence. It told her with every
step and with every beat of her own heart that Dascha was alive.
There was no such reassurance about Mikhail. His body was a
deadweight over her left shoulder, an immense burden for the small Witch.
Unable to control his arms, Zhanna could feel his right hand occasionally slap
against her leg as she stumbled on through the woods. The loose flapping only frightened
her more. It meant that there was no control over his muscles. The choices then
were that he was deeply unconscious or dead.
Please! Let him be just
unconscious, she thought to herself.
It was getting harder to see the small path in the dimming
light. Zhanna knew that she had to find a safe place to stop, and soon.
Unfortunately, this forest was totally unknown. She had no map and no sense of
the lay of the land. There was no luxury of time to explore.
The young Witch had pushed her body far beyond what she had
any right to expect from it. Only the conditioning and training that she had
continued after her visit to the Badger Hole Bar and the conflicts there had
enabled her to make it this far.
Catching her foot on an unseen rootlet, Zhanna crashed to
the ground with a jarring thump that rattled her teeth and brought stars to her vision. Stunned, she froze for a moment
trying to marshal her energies to continue. Get
up and get moving! she told herself. Drawing
a deep on her reservoirs of determination, the young woman tried to get to her feet.
Her body betrayed her, and she sank back to
Pozhaluysta bogi, please gods, I’m not sure I can get him
up on my back again. But I have to move him, or
he’s dead. Trying desperately to rise
to her feet, Zhanna sobbed with effort. Unwilling to abandon Mikhail, she
struggled against his greater weight with trembling legs and shaking arms.
“Psst! Psst! Over here!”
Startled by the presence of a voice that she had no
expectation of hearing, Zhanna looked to
the side of the path and into the shadows beneath a group of low-growing bushes. Two pairs of eyes stared out at her,
one brown and glowing with a soft golden light, the other bright red. The young
Witch had no energy to be frightened. Her terror was focused on the bigger
threat that was behind her. Opening her mouth, mind searching for the perfect
question, all that came out was a semi-articulate, “What?”
Luckily for Zhanna,
her question appeared to be enough.
Out from the shadows crept one of the Hidden Folk, a small
creature that looked vaguely like a little boy with pointed ears and gnarled root-like
fingers. Dressed in garments of brown and green, he merged into the surrounding
undergrowth and fooled the eye. Hesitantly, advancing in fits and starts, he
finally got close enough to reach out one of his little hands and grabbed
Tugging at her clothing urgently, his small voice could barely
be heard over the harshness of the Witch’s breathing and the pounding of her
“Come this way. We are too small to stop the big bad thing,
too few to stop those that come with that
monster. But we found a place for you to hide. Come, and we will cover where you have walked and
where you have fallen. We can remove the traces of your sweat and the other scents
the demon dogs would smell and follow.”
All the Zhanna could do was to nod her head in agreement.
What choice did she have? She couldn’t outrun her pursuers, and her exhaustion was burying her deeply under a blanket that could not be shrugged off
easily. The last attack had pulled much of her magic from her, and there had been no ability to recharge.
Although she had managed to shield their presence for the first
mile, her limited energy had meant a choice between fleeing or hiding under the
cover that the shield provided. With the overwhelming forces of the other side,
hiding had been too risky.
Frantic and confused, Zhanna had
taken the better option and fled, taking Mikhail and Dascha with her. As she
had run, she saw that Ivan and Jorg were making their escape in a different
direction. She prayed that they would be safe, but she only had the energy to try to save those within reach.
Shakily, the young Witch climbed to her feet. Taking a
couple of deep breaths, she managed to
respond to the Hidden Folk, saying, “Thank you. Please lead, and I will follow.”
As the tiny forest creature turned to lead her away, Zhanna
reached down to grab Mikhail’s arms. Hopefully,
she could drag him the rest of the way to the hiding place since she was
positive that she couldn’t carry him another single step.
“No, Isza will bring other
man.” The little brown creature was emphatic, pointing first to his companion
still under the bush and then gesturing at Zhanna to follow.
Zhanna didn’t understand. Her mind was reeling because she
had not seen anything capable of carrying Mikhail and she wasn’t going to leave
him behind. His horrific injuries would have to be tended soon. Before she could
see if he was still alive, they had to get to a safe place.
If she did not dress his
wounds and injuries soon, she was going to lose him too. The Witch had
already suffered too much loss this day
to even consider that. Whatever it takes
to save him, I will do! she vowed to
A faint wrestling noise from the side of the path drew
Zhanna’s attention. Slithering out from the underbrush was the bearer of the
red eyes. A new factor was entering the picture, and the young woman was unable to process what this meant through
the stuttering of her mind. Her thoughts trapped by a wall of blank
incomprehension, the impact of what she saw exploded in her head and echoed
through her entire being. Alternating between hot fire and cold splashes, Zhanna
The creature that she could now see was a fantasy of power and
elaboration. The serpentine body and
massive muscles were displayed in the dim light, seeming to glow with their own
illumination. The distinctive tail and appendages looked like something out of
the books that Blagogarsk had made available to Zhanna. She remembered a page
in an ancient text that was still as pristine as the day that it was first
created. Her trained memory pulled that page up in front of her eyes, alive
with elaborate colors and detailed lists of the creature’s abilities and
The visual appearance was enough to stun Zhanna. Its powers were
enough to awe her. However, the memory that caused the Witch a serious mental
collision was the section in which that page had resided in the book. The
section titled “Extinct Creatures.”
Despite life daring to interrupt my writing again, the next book in the Familiar Magic series is up and live. This follows the story of Princess TT, the white Persian Familiar introduced in the Familiar Trials - Fledgling book. I had an intense time in the crafting of this story, with many other tales trying to worm their way into the mix.
I hope you enjoy it! As always, I look forward to hearing what you think and feel about the characters and the storyline.
It was no more than a split second, but the gate covered an immense distance before TT’s paws hit the ground in the back of Monet’s garden. The idea that the famous painter had created his beautiful florals from flowers that were nurtured by the magical energy of the portal, amused TT to no end. It seemed like it a hidden joke, something that added a special dimension to those famous paintings. TT had heard people discuss the painter’s work in her mistress’ salon, attributing the luminescent light to the painter’s exceptional skills. Only now did TT understand that Monet had painted his vision of magic.
Normally, the flower garden filled her with peace and a sense of elegance. Right now, every step that she took to the gate seemed to drag on her spirit. She was desperately, overwhelmingly frightened.
She could see two dark shapes waiting right outside of the gate. The garden was closed now, but she and the ferret had no problem navigating through the deserted garden and sliding through the small gaps of the gate. Truth be told, TT was a little envious that the elderly professor had come to meet his own familiar. He walked with a cane and was wrinkled and very slow, but his pleasure at seeing his Familiar was unmistakable.
Despite the ferret’s age, he scampered up the outstretched arm of his witch and made chittering, happy sounds as they greeted one another. The old witch’s shaking hands gently patted his familiar and TT could almost feel the contentment that surged up as they basked in the pleasure of being together again.
Concealing a bracing breath, she turned toward the driver and the open automobile door that waited for her. She knew that her witch would not come to pick her up. That was not how proper behavior was handled in a witch-familiar relationship of such a noble house. Instead, a very proper driver was there, dressed in his livery and standing with impeccable posture. The door was opened for her, and he stood at attention waiting for TT to ascend into the car.
Normally imperturbable, the driver actually stepped back in shock when he saw the white cat coming toward him. "Sacre bleu! What has happened to you? This is a disaster!” he said, waving his hands in the air.
The shock on his ordinarily stone-like face cut TT to the bone. She felt like she was having the skin peeled off of her flesh sliver by sliver. Her witch had everyone trained to perfection and for him to break training like this meant she really was horrible. She had looked at herself in the water, and it had not seemed that bad, but maybe she just wasn’t looking at the right place. Dascha didn’t seem to care, in fact, Stinky and Jack and all the rest of them didn’t really seem to mind that she had been hurt. They had protected her at the risk of their own lives, and she felt a little bit of warmth deep in her heart just thinking about that.
The driver had regained his composure. Once again, he looked like the perfect emotionless automaton. Holding the door for her, he backed up and waited for her to enter. Reluctantly, TT jumped up on the seat, cringing internally as she saw the faint smudges of dirt from her tracks that were left on the pristine leather upholstery. Somehow, she knew that is soon she was out of the vehicle, that the chauffeur would be scrubbing the seat. It would not do for anything to be less than immaculate for Madame Rosemary d’ Reauvrey, the premier Witch of Paris.
<< <> >>
The white cat was so caught in misery that she wasn’t even conscious when they arrived home. Only the stopping of the vehicle and the almost silent opening of the door brought her back to the present. TT had been lost in reverie the whole time, thinking about many things. Her family, the way she was raised, the different way that they regarded being a familiar than what had been taught at the Trials.
With that ache so sharp that it felt like it was cutting into her, TT missed her friends. With them, she was accepted and felt safe. Right now, she was not safe at all. At some level of her mind, the Persian knew that she was walking into a very risky and dangerous situation. If she could have just explained why she knew that, maybe the homecoming would’ve been different.
Reminded of her surroundings once more by the soft throat-clearing of the chauffeur, TT gathered her shreds of dignity around her and jumped out of the vehicle and started walking up the steps. Remember how she had pranced up and down the steps with her tail flipping in the air, proud to be the jeweled familiar of such a highborn and powerful witch, TT could not reconcile the cat she had been the week before and who she was now.
As the small white cat approached the front door, it opened. As usual, one of the footmen tended to the door under the supervision of the Butler. There was no laxness allowed in her witch’s home. No failure to perform or inexpert execution. Everything had to be done perfectly.
Looking at the people around her, TT felt like they were not real. Instead, they were a mirror of perfection that would only reflect things that were flawless. She felt alienated and not included, no longer unmarred. The next few minutes of her life were going to be some of the hardest ones that she had ever experienced. However, she had survived the Familiar Trials, and she was on her way to learning a lot more about herself and what power she owned. There was nothing to do but go forward right now.
As TT moved toward the solarium that was the usual place for her witch to be at this time of day, she saw from the corner of her eyes the look of dismay and horror on the face of the Butler. That look was echoed on the even less controlled visage of one of the maids that happen to catch sight of her as the cat walked back toward the solarium. There was no concern, no empathy in those looks. Just unmitigated dismay with overtures of disgust. Had she really been that shallow before? Was it something that she had been raised to believe or something she had inside of her? Only time would tell.
Cringing inside with trepidation, TT entered the room
The next book in the Familiar Magic series follows the Familiar Trials - Fledgling book. It tells the story of TT, the Persian cat from that book as she returns home. It is an emotional book of trial and triumph, and hopefully, one that will address the hundreds of emails I am getting begging for the rest of that story. I will not say that this is the "rest" but it continues the tale, and I hope that you will be pulled back into my world of magic, familiars, and adventure!
A new Familiar will be making his debut in this story, TT's Uncle Jochar. I thought you might like to see him as a sneak peek!
The book will be out no later than this weekend! Stay tuned!
This year, all of the Phoenix Prime authors are trying to create merchandise that represents aspects of our publications. I was at a bit of a loss but came up with a few things that I would buy because they remind me of the book. As a STEM professional and as a writer, I am always drinking coffee, tea, and water. So it seemed reasonable that I would create mugs.
Because of the Badger Hole Bar, I did a coffee mug and a beer mug. And since I hate wet desktops, I did coasters. It was an exercise in art, which is NOT my strong suit. However, I found it fun and am beginning to think that this 'publish a book - give people options for cool stuff' idea might not be so bad after all!
Tell me what you think, please! Remember though, I am NOT AN ARTIST.
I know that it is silly, but the first thing I did was to go buy them. At this rate, I will have lots of mugs by the end of the year! The BHB is projected to have LOTS of books per year for the next few.
I am happy to announce that the book, Thru the Badger Hole, has been released. I've been working on this book and the concepts around the series for about six months now. With fantastic assistance from the rest of the Phoenix Prime group, we have laid out a story arc that would amaze most authors.
This first book lays the foundation for the universe and positions it for continuing adventures and development in the rest of the main storyline. Along the way, there are literally over 100 outliers, novels, cookbooks, etc., that have been planned and outlined.
Obviously, I will not be writing all of them myself. Instead, I will have co-writers and contributors that help make this universe a rich and intriguing one with multiple points of view and a strong overall storyline.
I really hope that you will enjoy this book. Over the next three weeks, there will be a minimum of three other book releases in this universe. Please let me know who are your favorite characters and why. I just might sneak you a few snippets here and there to let you know how they're doing.