Books, Books and More Books!!

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

Monday, December 3, 2018

Time to Visit the Badger Hole Bar! New Story about the Clothier!

December is my heads-down writing and publishing month. The first thing for this month is a new book in the Badger Hole Bar series. One of my beta readers laughed so hard he got hiccups, and I hope you enjoy it as well!
I had a blast, tucking little things into the story to build in the next ones. Sort of like a Christmas scavenger hunt! See how many you can find! The book is available on Amazon.
Next up, is an anthology story that introduces a character that I have been cooking up for a long time. I will not be writing a large book about this one until the new year, but could not resist her appearance in the Footsteps in the Snow Anthology, coming out later this week.
Fleet Genesis in the Unfettered Mage series is inching closer to done. I just need to stop chasing new starship designs down!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

My Cyber Music story is in a new Anthology!

The third CyberWar anthology is out and I have the second in the CyberMusic series in it! I am really getting to love the two main characters in this series.

Part of that is that it combines my other work in computer analysis and security with my alternative life in fiction. I believe that is why they seem so real to me.

Hopefully, when the next CyberWar comes out I will have time to do another story in the series for that one! I have other things on the priority list before then though. I have the next Unfettered Mage book, Fleet Genesis, in the works, a couple of holiday season short stories for anthologies coming out in the next few weeks. Also, a new Familiar Magic book called Unfamiliar Passage and two books in the Badger Hole Bar!

I have been working on them in pieces, but have some time to really concentrate, so expect a few publications to brighten up the rainy fall days!

The book is available on Amazon and the stories are going to be available in other forms within the next few months. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Fleet Genesis - Snippet 3

Work is rolling along on the next Unfettered Mage book, Fleet Genesis. Here is a small snippet for your enjoyment. As usual, remember that this is not edited!!


<< Alan, wake up, please. Alan, WAKE UP!! >>

<< What? What’s the problem? >> grouched the man, resenting the interruption of a pleasant dream.

The telepathic touch of his AI weapon finally registered, sending a cold chill down the former Marine’s spine and bringing him to full alert. It had been a decade since he had felt that sort of urgency from the intelligent gun that was his constant companion. He wasted only a brief flash of regret on that memory, having long ago come to his peace with his altered circumstances.

<< There are people approaching, and the pattern of their movement says that they are not friends. >>

Old patterns reappear under moments of stress and Alan was no different than the rest of his old unit. << Report! >> he demanded.

<< Approximately five minutes ago, two vehicles approached our property. One of them stayed at the end of the drive and remains closed up. The other came halfway down the driveway, and a squad in loosely disciplined order spread from the vehicle leaving the driver inside. >>

<< Are there other signs of activity? >> Alan knew that the capabilities of the new weapon that housed his old friend included some features that hadn’t been fully explored by the two of them. The old soldier knew that that was really his fault. Arturis, the AI, had tried to share his enthusiasm for his new home, but Alan had sunk so far into despair that he couldn’t manufacture the energy.

Quickly, the AI detailed the invaders’ set up of an observer post within the clump of trees closest to the house and their concealment of manacles in a bag that two men were now carrying toward the front door.

Grunting in effort, Alan swung himself into his motorized wheelchair and strapped the safety restraint across his waist. His mind was working furiously as he considered options, but could not find a clear course of action. Quickly, he asked his companion, << Do you have any suggestions? I can’t think of a defensible position here. >>

The AI’s mental voice was hesitant as he said, << You know that I have been playing a little bit with the upgraded capabilities that we have since Archmage Ruth replaced the old gun. >>

At Allen’s acknowledgment, Arturis continued, << Some of those capabilities allow me to monitor and set up other units. Since you have been sleeping so much, I’ve been amusing myself by exploring the things that I can do. Some of your old unit members, both biological and AI, have been generous in supplying items for me to play with. >>

<< Stop worrying about whether I’m going to approve, and just tell me what options we have! We can argue about it later, but you know as well as I do that I’ve just been crawling into a hole. You shouldn’t feel responsible for that. It is my own cowardice, not yours. >>

Alan knew that the AI wanted to reassure him that it wasn’t cowardice, but the old soldier knew that he had been shutting down. He could feel the exact moment when Arturis decided to cut to the chase. The AI went back into reporting mode as he said, << I placed observational units that are very small around our property. I also deployed some perimeter defenses that are not individually very powerful but in aggregate will be a deterrent. Additionally, the perimeter of the house is guarded by stronger armor and weapons. >>

The wheelchair-bound former soldier felt an energizing wash of power run through him, and he sat up straighter in his motorized vehicle. An unfamiliar expression stretched his face, and he was surprised to realize that he was smiling.

<< Activate whatever passive protections that we have. Bring any weapons online that we need but don’t fire until they reveal their intentions. >>

<< Done. I don’t think we are going have to wait long since they are climbing the porch steps right now. >>

Alan sent his wheelchair toward his front door while slipping his gun into his left hand. He was almost at the door when the hollow reverberation of strong knocks echoed through his mostly empty hallway.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Alan chose not to answer that preemptory sound and waited for a moment. He heard the murmur of conversation on the outside of the door but could not make out any specific words. Arturis said over their bond, << One of them wants to break in through the window, the other wants you to position yourself right by the door so they can take you out quickly. Apparently, they are after me, but they have orders not to kill you. >>

A sharp stab of fury brought a snarl to the retired soldier's face as the threat to his companion did what no concern of his own danger would ever have done. The man who had been the leader of the planetary Marines for over a decade, commanding from the front lines, was on the edge of going berserk. Every one of his protective instincts had kicked in and what had been a mild challenge was now something far more severe.

“Maj. Culhane, the Council commands your appearance. You are directed to come with us, so please open the door.”

Arturis murmured, << That is the senior of the two. He probably thinks that we have a camera on the door because he is waving a fancy document in the air in front of it as if we were stupid enough to fall for that. >>

The snarl on the major’s face became a little more amused as he answered out loud, “I think you are confused, sir. I do not live in the town ruled by the Council, and I am no longer a member of the military under their command. In fact, since they disbanded the Navy, they have no military to command.”

Another voice intruded, snarling contemptuously, “You may have been important many years ago, old man, but now you have to obey your betters. Open this damn door or we will break it down.”

“You are trespassing on private property, gentlemen. Please leave immediately, or I’m going to call law enforcement.”

The angry voice from outside continued at a shouting level, “They won’t do you any good, because we are going to have you gone before then. So open up the damn door and maybe we won’t kill you.”

Arturis said, << All defenses are now on active mode, and the weapons on the perimeter are live. Do you want to direct them? >>

<< You’re the one who’s been playing with them, not me. Don’t respond with deadly force unless they do something outrageous. Then let’s figure out what we are going to do because these jerks have seriously annoyed me! >>

In a private part of his mind, Arturis thought to himself, I suppose it is reprehensible of me, but I can’t help but be glad for the stupidity of these two. And the idiocy of whoever ordered them here. If I would’ve known long ago that attacking us would bring Alan out of depression, I would’ve engineered it myself.

No whisper of that came through their bond, and the old soldier was not interrupted as he listened to the forces outside start to deploy. The low hum of a force field could be felt in the hallway as the house’s defenses became active and ratcheted up. Curses from the two men on the porch started suddenly as small, and irritating shock attacks began to force their retreat from the house’s foundation.

Trusting his longtime companion, Major Alan Culhane (retired) set about planning the downfall of his enemies with a smile and reenergized appreciation for life.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

My Story is in an Anthology!

I got involved in a writers' game where we were given a snippet, a character, or a scene to incorporate in a story of our choice. I got a weird one and went WAAAAYY outside of my normal writing venues.

It is called Destinations and has been published in an anthology called The Hand You Were Dealt. If you have a chance to read the book, please let me know what you think of the story and if you think it is worth continuing as an occasional short story series.

I like the idea of taxicabs as the hand of justice...

Anyway - here is the cover and link. The stories are all fun and it was a challenge that really sparked the creative juices!

It is available on Amazon.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Journey of Zhanna and Dascha Continues!

Coping with tremendous changes in her life, Zhanna is driven far from the comfort of known surroundings. Many would buckle under the weight, but the young woman is up to the challenge.

Join the Russian Witch and her Familiar, Dascha as they tackle another call!

Road to Honor, available on Amazon!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Next Adventure for Zhanna and Dascha has Published!

Everything has consequences. Traveling the difficult path that she has chosen has gotten Zhanna into many sticky situations. In each, she has managed to stay true to herself and honor the promises made to others.

Unfortunately, that road has led her to a place of sacrifice. What do you do when the road home is closed to you? That is the heartbreaking challenge for Zhanna. It is a good thing that she has the love and support of her Familiar, Dascha. 

Walk a new path with the Russian Witch. See how her belief that honor is the guide for life stands the test of loss and change. Travel the Road to Honor at her side.

Now on sale at Amazon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Thrilled and Excited, Scared and Writing Like Crazy

The Wenebojo project has started its Kickstarter. The new service is due to launch in the next month and I am so excited that it feels like Christmas when I was a kid!

Any time that something new and different appears, there are those that shy away from it because it is strange, while others see the potential and embrace it. This is one of those disruptive sorts of things.

It may not sound like much, a streaming service that provides storytelling, but to me, it is something more powerful. I have so many people in my life that this would affect, so many that would find joy in this, that I have become a believer.

I have friends that are aging and cannot read my stories because of poor eyesight. Others that cannot listen to television or audiobooks because their hearing is spotty. This will let all of them experience the tales that I and other authors burn to tell them.

I have children in my extended family that are autistic or suffer from learning disabilities that cause them challenges that prevent them from reading easily. Others that have been ill-served by educational systems that have failed to help them find the wonders in reading for enjoyment.

Many of my friends are educators and scramble to find resources to expand the horizons of the children in their classes on shrinking budgets and crowded conditions. My donations to their supply budgets go only so far, and I wish I could do more.

Finally, I can. Wenebojo will provide that "more" and it is coming soon. My stories and hundreds of tales from my fellow authors will be available on the service that will launch before the end of the year.

I have 11 stories, including two books in the initial launch. More will be done each month, released each week as they are completed. Wenebojo has more than 1800 episodes in the pipeline, with more than 250 being added each month. It is exciting and daunting.

The wave of stories will grow and grow, providing a bigger library for our fans, for children, for the elderly that have been condemned to the loss of their beloved reading. It is even adding in extensive ASL during the first part of 2019 and multiple languages during the latter parts of 2019 so that more can be included in the community.

The community of imagination.

There are many people involved in Wenebojo. Writers, editors, beta readers, and so on. Quality controls are rigorous and it puts me on my toes to deliver the best stories that I can.

The challenge is welcome. I am motivated to rise to it and take pride in what I am producing. Getting better each day is its own reward to me, but I see it in the comments from my readers, their reactions to the products of my mind.

It is not just me and my fellow authors that can see this vision. Others have joined in, both as organizations and as individuals. Serious players in the worldwide stage are involved. IBM has made Wenebojo the inaugural application of its worldwide offering on the mainframe cloud. This represents a huge investment on their part and is part of the terrifying aspect, at least for me.

There are even universities that are putting their resources behind it, incorporating the quality standards established by Wenebojo into their curriculum and training their students in the skills that make such a comprehensive endeavor work.

If you are so inclined, consider backing the Kickstarter project. It just started and is gathering people for early access and feedback into how it will better serve those that love stories and storytelling.

I look forward to my stories traveling the world, finding readers in walks of life that might never have experienced them otherwise. Even more, something in my soul is touched by knowing that my elderly aunt will finally be able to experience the stories that she has missed for a decade due to poor sight.

Do you know someone like her?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

A Standard of Honor Story - The Childhood of the Blagogarsk Seer

The book, Floating in Time, has just been published on Amazon. It tells some of the background of the Seer that would later mentor Zhanna.

I hope you will both enjoy it and pick some of the threads that will give you more understanding of the upcoming book, Road to Honor.

Road to Honor is in its final polish, and Fleet Genesis is cruising along behind!

An Unfettered Mage Story in a Halloween Anthology

I decided to include a short story in the Phoenix Prime Anthology, Tricky Treats. What could go wrong with a story about a little boy's wish to dress up for Halloween? After all, he misses his old life, his mother, and brother.

So loving Grandma, Mage Ruth, decides to make that wish come true. Easy right?


First of all, the story was supposed to be 3-5K words long. I could not tell the story in that small a canvas. So the tale grew. And grew. Finally, it had stretched to a small novel length of 12K+.

Oops. But I had promised to put it in the little anthology. So there it is for those that are going thru withdrawal.

Let me know what you think if you get a chance to read it! The story is Traditions of Childhood, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Look for the next Unfettered Mage story soon!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Road to Honor - Snippet 2

Here is another snippet to the upcoming book, Road of Honor. The book is close to release, but I am trying to be better about letting you all know what I am writing. My work schedule is crazy and I squeeze writing in where I can.

This is a major new event in the Standard of Honor series and universe and I hope you will love it as much as I am enjoying writing it.

Luxuriating in the feeling of a full stomach, the atmosphere in the room changed radically when many of the Hidden Folk straightened in alarm.

Zhanna asked, “What is it? What’s wrong?”

Stefan had risen to his feet and turned toward the door as soon as he had seen the reaction of the Hidden Folk. He knew their hearing was better than his and reacted automatically to the alarm that they had raised. Quickly, he positioned himself to see who was approaching the house, while still concealing his body from anyone on the outside.

At first, the mercenary didn’t see anything unusual. Then, he noticed activity at the edge of the front fence. Rushing toward the gate, a middle-aged man in the robes of a practicing Witch became visible in the fading light. Rather than a sedate walk, the man was running toward them.

Stefan’s sharply indrawn breath warned the rest of the room that there was indeed a problem. Instantly, Mikhail joined the older man at the doorway, positioning himself so that he was partially hidden by the opposite doorjamb.

Zhanna moved to support them, standing slightly to the left. Both mercenaries flashed her quick smiles of approval, a testament to how the young Witch had incorporated the fighting lessons that they had been teaching.

The young Witch could feel her Familiar at her side and noticed the comforting heat on her shoulder when the Flamechild that lived in the stove came to help. Zhanna could hear Jack quietly directing the children to a more protected position. She dismissed her concern for them, knowing that the battle-wise cat would protect them with his life.

Iskar whispered into the Witch’s ear, “A Witch and what feels like a Familiar are approaching. The Familiar is an Air Elemental Master, and they both come at rapid speed.”

Just then Zhanna heard Dascha over their bond exclaiming, << It is Glenfrey and Henley! I wonder what on Earth is wrong. >>

Quickly, Zhanna explained to the rest of the group that the people approaching were known. The young Witch saw a look of relief pass over her grandmother’s face at her words. There was something off about the Seer’s expression, but there was no time to investigate it now. As she moved toward the door, Zhanna promised herself to talk to her grandmother about that when things quieted down.

The young woman met Henley at the base of the stairs, saying, “Henley, it’s nice to see you. However, you are not looking happy, and your headlong speed indicates a problem. What is the matter?”

The man was out of breath, and both distraught and dust-covered. He was carrying a travel bag and visibly trembling when he reached Zhanna. Dropping the suitcase onto the ground, he leaned on the porch rail for a moment. Trying to catch his breath enough to speak, all he could do was gasp for a few seconds.

“Gasp… Gasp… Sorry for the surprise, Zhanna, but I have come from the Seer of the Plains to tell you that you and your companions are urgently needed at some place called The Badger Hole. She said to tell you that it is a True Vision and that is utterly urgent for you to go right away. She also told me that I have to go with you.”

Just then, the huge golden eagle, Glenfrey, swooped down to land beside his Witch. Shaking his feathers to settle his wings, the Familiar first looked at his companion with concern before turning to Zhanna and adding, << She was extremely agitated and made sure that we understood the urgency of the matter. We stopped only long enough to grab some items and then ported over here. That type of spell is very draining and hard to cast. Henley and I are both exhausted and shaky.>>

Dascha’s mental tone was confused, asking, <<Henley, would not Zhanna’s grandmother have had that vision also? I know that Seers frequently get different views of the same situation if it is a True Vision.>>

<<Dascha, she did not say. She rushed us into motion and practically pushed us out the door, frantic for us to get here. You need to grab some basic items and your companions. The Seer was quite specific that you need to take companions with you. Then we need to be on our way. I have never heard a Seer be so serious. >>

Henley nodded his head, reinforcing what his Familiar had said, “Yes, she was very serious. But even more alarming, she was frightened.”

Stay tuned! Down to the last chapter and editing! Then back to my Unfettered Mage!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

First Snippet from the Road to Honor - Zhanna's story continues!

This is the first snippet from the upcoming book in the Standard of Honor Series. It continues the tale of Zhanna, her Familiar, Dascha, and the people that she knows and loves. 

Please remember, as always, that this is unedited!

Road to Honor - Snippet One

The fog was heavy and laden with musty and acrid scents. Zhanna, Stefan, and Mikhail stayed close together, more for comfort than for any other reason. Stefan was obviously uneasy, darting glances from side to side as he strode along close to her right side. Mikhail followed a step behind her to the left with his blade drawn in his left hand. Slung over his right shoulder were the carry bags for Noma, Tish, and Saroc. The Hidden Folk had insisted on coming along on the urgent mission to the Badger Hole Bar and Zhanna had been so rattled that she hadn’t argued much.

<< You are still unsettled, kitten. When Henley and Glenfrey came bursting in on us and said that we had come to the BHB right away, neither one of us knew what to say. >>

<< You are right, Dascha. I can’t seem to get my mental footing, and this fog is not helping. For some reason, it feels different than the last time we came this way. >>

<< I know. It’s as if something is watching us from within the fog. Last time, it just felt sort of creepy, but this time the emotion is darker and more serious. The only saving grace is if it’s this scary for us, how does it feel to the rest of them? >>

Zhanna’s mental chuckle help to break the tension, and she could finally take a breath. The relief made her able to take a quick look over her shoulder at the rest of her party. She hoped that the message that they were given was correct because otherwise, it looked like an invading army. Not only did she have Stefan and Mikhail but she had three of the Hidden Folk and the Mage Henley and his huge Familiar, the Eagle Glenfrey with her. Given the various abilities of her companions, she hoped Madrik was in a forgiving mood.

<< It could be worse, I suppose. We could have more than nine of us. >>

<<Ah… We might have a few more that you weren’t aware of. >>
Zhanna stopped cold in the middle of the pathway, causing Henley to almost trip to avoid her. Turning to stare at her Familiar, who was studiously looking straight ahead, Zhanna demanded in an irate tone, “What do you mean? Who came along that I didn’t know about?”

Mikhail answered, his eyes watching the fog and his voice tense and low toned, “I don’t think this is the right time to stop and argue, Zhanna. You can be angry later, but for right now let’s get a move on.”

Swallowing the waves of irritation that had burned every last vestige of her uneasiness out of her system, the young Witch turned toward their objective and started to walk so quickly that the rest the party had to scramble to catch up. Fuming to herself, Zhanna promised, A certain black fuzzy smartass and I are going to have a chat soon!

So incensed was Zhanna that she forgot to be unsettled by the fog and marched her way determinedly toward the Badger Hole Bar door. The mist receded from the path as if it knew that the Witch had gone from intimidated to infuriated. Seemingly, even uncanny clouds were leery of an enraged Witch.

In just a few moments, the welcoming lit sconces of the BHB external door appeared. Zhanna heard distinct sighs of relief from both her merc companions and a smaller, softer sound from the Mage Henley, following closely behind.

The first time Zhanna had come this way, they had opened the door themselves. This time, the door swung open before anyone could lay a hand on it. The light from the taproom of the BHB shown with a golden glow. The subdued sounds of conversation and activity immediately calmed Zhanna down even further.

It didn’t seem like there was an emergency, and the lack of excitement and strain relaxed Zhanna enough to bring a smile to her face as the waitress, Wynn, hurried over to her delightedly exclaiming. “Zhanna! I didn’t know you were coming. It’s wonderful to see you, but what is the occasion?”

The young Witch didn’t answer until her entire party was through the door and it had clicked closed safely behind them. Only then did she turned to her smiling friend and say, “We got an urgent summons to come here, and I thought something was wrong. So, we dropped everything and came as quickly as we could.”

Before either of the women could say anything else, Zhanna heard a shout of, “Zhanna! What brings you here?” The voice and the unusually warm greeting issued from the broad chest of the head bouncer, Alastair. The big man had come from the other side of the bar and was hurrying toward them. What caused Zhanna’s jaw to drop and her two mercenary friends to take up protective positions was the creature riding on Alastair’s shoulder.

In some ways, the entity reminded Zhanna of some of her friends in the Hidden Folk. It looked like a cross between Noma and Saroc with tufts of fur and a long prehensile tail. Much larger than any of her friends, this creature looked like it weighed about 25 to 30 pounds. It was balanced carefully on the bouncer’s shoulder with one paw hand gently braced against his head.

Of course, Alastair acted as if he didn’t notice the weight but Zhanna knew that as strong as he was, he probably wouldn’t have cared if the creature weighed 100 pounds.

Shock held the young Witch still for just a moment, long enough for the Hidden Folk that had ridden in Mikhail’s pack had time to let out earsplitting sounds and swarm down him as if he was a pile of rocks. Noma and Tish ran over to the creature that had jumped down to the floor on hearing them. They were all soon embroiled in a spinning, chattering mass of small beings.

Saroc was more restrained. Coming carefully down Mikhail, the little amphibian moved over toward the excited and chattering trio. Waiting patiently until things calmed down, he soon interjected, “Nidji, what are you doing here?”

The young Witch exclaimed, “You know him?”

“Yes. I knew him from when we were both very young. Before we came through the cold doors. However, I have no knowledge of how he got here, or even why.”

Madrik had come up to the group silently, going unnoticed until that moment. He caught Zhanna’s eye and suggested, “I believe it would be better if you joined the rest of his party over at the table. When they came through the left door and explained their dilemma, there were a lot of people here who suggested options. But we kept watching the right-hand door looking for the solution and had about given up. Now you have come, and I can feel the BHB’s satisfaction.”

Zhanna felt a cold shiver run down her back as if someone had stepped on a grave nearby. Looking up in consternation, she saw that Stefan and Mikhail had drawn closer to her in a protective shield and Henley had stepped to one side as if to defend her also.
“Madrik, what is going on? Even the air feels strange right now, and nothing seems quite solid.”

The strange creature spoke for the first time. In a voice as deep as most humans, he said, “You must be the Witch that is the pivot of all of this. You’re probably confused, and at least we have some of the pieces of the puzzle for you. Please join my companions and me for a drink and a discussion.”

Glancing around quickly, Zhanna didn’t see any other option reflected in her companion’s faces, and without a better solution, she chose to follow the creature across the floor to the large and comfortable table beside the fireplace. Waiting for her at the table were two more creatures that looked like Noma and Tish. They were silent and motionless, staring with large eyes at the group approaching them.

They so reminded her of her Hidden Folk friends that Zhanna couldn’t maintain her anger although her unease never left her. The table was large and easily accommodated all of them. The BHB even sent up a thick tendril that made a comfortable perch for Glenfrey. Clacking his beak in relief, the large Golden Eagle settled his feathers and turned first one side of his head and then the other to thoroughly examine the beings that were waiting.

No one spoke at, some of them not knowing what to ask and others not knowing what to say. Finally, the young Witch couldn’t bear it any longer, “Please, can you explain to us what’s going on? Obviously, it is something that’s very important but we have come hurriedly from our home to be here, and I have no idea why we were summoned.”

The discussion got general for a while as Noma and Tish introduced, at least in a general way, the others of their race. Although they had not personally known each other, there were enough connections of family and lineage, of geography and clan, that the Hidden Folk seemed to accept each other at face value.

Zhanna could see that Stefan and Mikhail were calming down as the familiarity and the confidence of the Hidden Folk became more apparent. While the young Witch was relieved, she couldn’t help but wonder where these strange waves of feeling were coming from and why this is such an urgent mission.

Wynn had come over and brought drinks and food to everyone. It was only when the smell of hot grilled meat permeated the air that Zhanna learned that she had more than her visible party members to contend with. Popping his head out of Mikhail’s pack, TT’s Uncle Jack looked around quickly. He then hopped lightly to snag his share of the warm food. Before Zhanna could say anything, the white shape of a small Persian cat emerged to join in.

By this point, Zhanna was beyond quibbling with the stowaways. She noticed that Dascha easily made space for the two other cats in the companionably shared dish of food. She also saw that the strange Hidden Folk were frightened of both the cats and the giant Eagle. However, whatever drove them was strong enough either from fear or devotion to make them move past the presence of uncontained predators in the room.

Finally, the discussion focused on the problem and the help that was required. The three Hidden Folk were from a world that they had traveled to through the same type of transportation doors, the ones that Zhanna’s Hidden Folk referred to as “cold doors,” when they left their home planet.

<< I bet that’s a story to hear some time! It sounds like everybody left the world all at the same time but went to different destinations. I wonder why? >>

<< Dascha, we can find that out later. Right now, I’m just trying to figure out why were the ones that got called on this. >>

Finally, the young man who looked like Noma started to speak. He started off rather shakily, but his voice strengthened as he got into the meat of his tale. “The world that we are coming from, the place that we live now, sounds very similar to what you have today. It has seasons and dense undergrowth, interesting godlings and many people. However, there is an infestation of Magic users that rely on blood sacrifice and pain to power their magic. They are evil, and we have tried to stay out of their way and protect our friends from them whenever we can.”

Stefan asked, “How powerful are they?”

The small Hidden Folk male responded, “I’m not sure that I’m qualified to tell you how strong they are. They are far more powerful than we are, and they can kill at a distance.”

The small female interjected, “But only if they can see you, so we stay hidden most of the time.”

Nodding his head in acceptance, the senior mercenary proceeded to question the three of them on the exact issue and problem that they needed to be solved. While he was finding out the information, Dascha leaned against her Witch in comfort.

<< At least we know how to deal with the blood mage. >> Dascha’s mental voice was slightly relieved but had a base of sadness that Zhanna didn’t understand. Resolving to herself that she would ask her Familiar about it later, the Witch continued to listen.

The young male was still talking, “Without warning, a large city has appeared in the middle of one of the plains. It is full of magic and all sorts of interesting things that the blood mage’s want.”
The young female interjected one more time, “They are almost crazy with desire for it, but the city is keeping them out. Every once in a while, in the early light, you can see dim shapes moving through the city. The blood mages are trying to get to those dimly-seen people. They can’t seem to, and the evil ones keep sacrificing more people to overwhelm the defenses with sheer power.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Another Snippet from the upcoming Fleet Genesis!

This is another snippet from the next Unfettered Mage book, Fleet Genesis. I gave you one from the new player in the game last time, but this one is centered around the Archmage. Hope you enjoy it - just remember that it is not edited yet!

“I know that the other time did not go well!” Ruth’s voice was quiet but sharp with an edge of some pent-up emotion.

“Not go well?! That is an understatement!” Drake’s voice almost trembled with his own emotion.

“It is too important to try to make contact with Earth for me to give in to a minor inconvenience.”

“Working yourself into a collapse that lasted for two days is NOT a minor inconvenience. Please do not push yourself so hard.”

Ruth sighed, letting out her breath in one extended exhalation. She knew that Drake was worried about her but felt driven to provide her son and grandson with all the comfort she could find. Deep inside her, the iron determination to figure this problem out drove her to push her point for the first time in their relationship.

“I am sorry, Drake, but I am going to try the communication conduit again. I will not let you or Cal talk me out of it.”

Cal looked at his mother with a conflicted look on his face. Glancing over at him, Drake could see the younger man’s desperate longing to see his wife again fighting with concern for his beloved mother. The Lord of Borachland knew how he felt when he lost his mother. That agony was still new and sharp in his heart even years later.

Even newer was his bond with the Archmage. Becoming her Anchor had been life-altering for him, and he marveled anew every day at the changes that had been wrought in his life and his mind. Even to himself, he didn’t want to admit how much it changed his heart.

Flinging his hands into the air, Drake said, “I admit that I’m worried but if you’re going to do this anyway, let’s be smart about it. I don’t want to be focused on the spell and unable to react when we get hit with another attack by the idiot Council head.”

Relaxing now that she knew the primary argument was over, Ruth added her own bit of concession, “That would make a lot of sense. I will go and have a discussion with the Inner Keep staff and leave the Outer Keep portion of it to you and Cal.”

The two men turned and moved briskly out of the room, united in their desire to both keep all of them safe and get on to the spell. Ruth smiled, thinking how much like the two men were. Separated by decades and species, they still managed to look like family. Strides about even, the two men moved in step down the hallway toward the stairs. The Mage could hear their voices as they rapidly evaluated options and approaches.

Deciding it was time for her to get moving also, Ruth moved lightly down the stairs to the kitchen area. She knew that she would find most of her senior staff in the kitchen at this time of day, drinking hot tea and discussing issues. Thinking about how good some tea would taste right now, the Mage speeded her steps up a bit and walked into the warm and welcoming chamber.
<< <> >>
The discussion with the Inner Keep staff had gone well, and Ruth felt reasonably sure that they had all the critical bases covered. Jenna was not terribly happy with Ruth attempting the communication conduit spell again, but her protests had withered on her lips as she had taken in Ruth’s set face.

At some point in the discussion, Troyer and Techla had joined the group in the kitchen. They sat silently, huddled together, drawing comfort from each other. Looking over at her grandson and granddaughter, Ruth asked, “What is the problem, dearlings?”

Troyer burst into speech, saying, “I really want to see my Mom, Grandma. But… I don’t want you to get hurt.”

Techla looked terrified and about ready to cry. Troyer put his arm around his younger sister and held her close against his chest. Looking over the top of her shaking head, the little boy said, “How dangerous is it for you to try to get to Mama?”

The Mage responded with the courtesy due to another adult, saying softly, “Any new spell is dangerous. The first attempt, I didn’t do some things that would’ve helped me, and I paid the price. This time, I’m going to learn from my experience and try to do better. Sometimes, that’s all we can do.”

When Ruth rose to her feet to go back upstairs, the two children followed closely behind. All the way up the stairs to her spell circle, she thought about telling them that they could not be in the room. However, there was a chance that this would be the only opportunity for Troyer to see his mother again. She just didn’t have it in her heart to deny him that possibility.
<< <> >>
Coming into the ritual room, Ruth stopped abruptly at the sight of the extra people. She had expected to see Cal and Drake, but there were two others in the chamber. Before she could ask a question, Cal started to explain.

“Just in case there’s a problem, we are going to have several people in the room that can possibly help. If you cast a small protective circle over on the side, that will shield the children, me, and the two healers here.”

Ruth thought for a moment and surprised both Drake and Cal with a smile. “I bet you thought I was going to argue with you, didn’t you? Both you were ready to try to win me over with a variety of different reasons why this is important. I can tell from your faces what he had planned. Too bad you don’t have to use all those arguments because I think it’s a good idea!”

The Mage turned away immediately and went over toward her preparation area. She could not have stayed another second because she would have burst out laughing at the expressions on the two men’s faces. She had personal experience with the frustration of not being able to present a well thought out argument. Being able to take the wind out of their sails at this point gave her a much-needed boost of humor.

It only took Ruth a few moments to finish her preparations. Focused and feeling like a vibrating drum and wailing violin had combined into a harmonious disharmony of potential, she cast the protection around everyone but her Anchor and herself. Then, moving to the center of the room, she and Drake took a position in front of the materialized archway.

Once again, Ruth activated first the protection of the circle surrounding them and then the containment that slithered along the outside walls in intertwining flashes of moving light. The Archmage was ready to try her spell again.

This time, the exact spell had changed and evolved. It had become more fluid and integrated, more powerful and efficient. The materialized archway was used for focus immediately, and the spell grew quickly and surely.

To the wondering eyes of her anchor and spectators, the gathering of glowing light that was the visible aspect of Ruth’s magic seemed to flow from the mage through the archway. The threads of magic came off her hand and arms. The fibers quickly thickened and strengthened as the power of her Will and Word moved toward the portal and beyond.

Drake’s hands on Ruth’s shoulders were steady and comforting. The drain of her spell did not even register on him. Instead, he was wholly focused on his Mage’s wellbeing.

Even in the middle of the searching phase of the spell, Ruth was conscious that less energy was being pulled from her. Having her Anchor present provided far more power to her spell. His rock-solid support allowed her to search more quickly and feel less stretched by the distance and time.

The shock of connection to Rena was like a dash of ice cold water on the skin of the Mage. Goosebumps rose, and the hair almost curled at the icy touch of the vast space that her spell spanned.

Rena was crying, a heart-wrenching expression of grief and horror. Ruth could feel clearly her fear that she was losing her mind. Why else would she imagine that she could talk to the mother-in-law that had been gone for so long?

“Rena, sweetheart! You are not going insane. We found a way to contact you, but we haven’t figured out all of the pieces of it yet.”

“Mom? Is that really you, or are you a figment of my imagination? Has my grief and loneliness driven me past the edge? I can’t go insane, Mark has nobody else left, and I won’t abandon my other son!” The younger woman’s voice was cracked and broken sounding. Her image through the archway looked like she was on the end of her endurance and had nothing left to give.

Ruth’s heart felt like it was shattering into small pieces. Choking on her own emotion, the Mage whispered, “Honey, please listen to me. You are not going nuts, please calm down.”

In Ruth’s intent focus on making the connection, she had forgotten that the archway would display the person with whom she was communicating. That oversight was costly, as a scream of, “Mama, Mama,” pierced the air like a sharp arrow of sound. Troyer could see his mother and all of the pent-up longing for her erupted in a mad dash that broke the protective circle around the children in a flash of brilliant white light.

The little boy ran headlong toward the glowing portal, tears streaming down his face. So great was his desperate craving for his mother that his ears were closed to the pained shout of anguish from his father. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Fleet Genesis - Sneak Peek! Snippet 01

A snippet from the upcoming book, Fleet Genesis, in the Unfettered Mage Series. Remember that this is not its final form necessarily! This book has been lots of fun so far. I love the characters and the world. My enjoyment has increased even more by the thoughtful collaboration of a talented writer of military sci-fi, Paul Middleton.

We are getting close on the release of this story. The action scenes are getting tighter and I am thrilled at the way it is coming together.

Until then... enjoy!

The Auditor’s Guild classification of the battle had Gwilliam worried. Their broadcast had slammed the classification of Holding action – Draw to all known points. That meant that the Empire forces fighting were considered to have no salvage rights. It also mandated that they not continue the struggle.

The shock of the abrupt change was disorienting. One second the forces of the Empire had been fighting a desperate battle against the Insectoids, and the next they were told to stand down. The urge to finish the fight against the overwhelming forces of the aliens had been almost impossible to overcome. Only with years of experience and discipline at his call had he managed to pull back.

Gwilliam had front row seats in that battle, on the bridge of the Empire battleship Thymestyl. He and half his naval personnel had been hired directly by the Emperor to train the Imperial fleet. He was the Emperor’s insurance policy, provided with the authority to override Admiral Schafer if the man put the fleet at unwarranted risk or acted ‘against the interests of the Emperor.’ As was feared, the Admiral had lost perspective and endangered the entire fleet.

When the enemy fleet stopped firing simultaneously, Schafer had believed he was exploiting a weakness. He lacked the experience to realize that no navy acted that way — that something unusual and unplanned had occurred. Anxious to make a name for himself, he had pushed to attack the frozen enemy, against the edict of the Auditors’ Guild.

Even the Emperor walked softly around the Guild. To have violated their edict would have destroyed the underpinnings of the Empire, reducing it to a shadow of itself in just a few minutes. Gwilliam knew what would happen. He had seen the damage and destruction that followed such ill-advised action. Unable to stop the Admiral short of relieving him of command, the mercenary commander was forced to play his trump card.

Those unusual circumstances were why Gwilliam was headed to Seer’s Rock. He had known that something momentous had happened and started investigating it immediately. Further digging had determined that Insectoid activity had ceased entirely across all the realms in which he had contacts. Many of those realms had faced regular Insectoid incursions for a generation or more and were shocked and relieved at the cessation.

There had to be a new power in play, and they had taken the Insectoids entirely out of the picture. A frightening power that had preyed on civilizations for centuries had been reduced in the space of a few minutes. Such a power needed to be checked and evaluated.

Something had happened to the Insectoids, and it was vital for Gwilliam to know what. Nor was curiosity the sole reason. As a commander of Mercenaries, he needed to know what new risks and opportunities this brought his people. As an escapee from the Order of the Just, he needed to know if there was a threat to that shadow organization. If so, he had no doubt that they would suddenly remember his existence.

He had tried very hard to stay underneath their notice, content in the life he had made since escaping. However, if they chose, he knew that he would be faced with a strident demand for his services. Since he had no plans to work with them ever again, the danger of forced compliance, via either torture or kidnapping, was a very real danger.

It all revolved around the nature of the new player. What, or who was behind the new power? Was it an upcoming race, waxing into a potent force? Or had an organization formed to destroy the marauding Insectoids? That might have happened, perhaps driven out of sympathy for races vulnerable to their pillages or seeking power through time-honored means of removing others?

There was another, most disturbing option. The only other situation that Gwilliam could think of would be the rise of a Mage of extreme power? He dreaded the last possibility, a fear goaded higher because logic told him it was the most straightforward answer. The final explanation was also the one most dangerous to him, and likely the Galaxy at large.

No traditional source of information, no contact, no quiet query he had sent had given him an answer. Solving the mystery would require a defter touch. Gwilliam needed a mind not restricted by the usual perception of time. Something far beyond his talents and skill was demanded.

There was one place he knew to find that talent. A location very dangerous to him and his crew. As much as he had cast his mind around looking for another solution, the answer came back to one option.

He would have to take a trip to the colony of Seers’ Rock.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Coven Codex - Already a #1 Release!

Thanks so much for making the second book in the Standard of Honor Series do so well! I thought you might like to see this clip for entertainment. Look for a short story in the series out later this month.

There will be several more stories out in the following months, and I will try to post a snippet each week. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Standard of Honor Series - New Release!

The next book in the Standard of Honor series, Coven Codex is finally up on Amazon! This continues the story of Zhanna, the young Witch that wants to restore the honor of the Covens of Russia in the Federal Witch World of TS Paul. With the help of her Familiar, Dascha, the Witch and black cat take another step on the pathway of their mission.

You can find the book here. It is much longer than the previous book. The story incorporates many of the threads from the previous one and weaves in the events of some of the Familiar Magic series stories. I hope that you enjoy it and that you will let me know about that.

The next ones in this world will be Familiar Bonds and Familiar Trials - Expert. The first is a story about TT and her recovery with her friend. The second, of course, is the next level of the growth of the powers of the Familiar, Dascha.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

I can finally talk about this! The secret has been killing me!

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!

Stay tuned for more!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Fashion Forward is Live - Another Badger Hole Bar story!!

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!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Releasing soon! Fashion Forward - Another book in the Badger Hole Universe!!

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-------------------------------------

Thursday, March 1, 2018

New Release in the Badger Hole Bar Universe! Grand Opening is up!!

The next book in the Badger Hole Bar series is up on Amazon! This story was fun and intriguing to write, with lots of character reveals and action.  I hope that you enjoy it!
The book is on Amazon and is also listed on the series page that Zon was kind enough to establish so quickly. That is a good thing since there are many more books in the queue!

Have fun and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sneak Peek at In Fire Forged (Badger Hole Bar)

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 friend Zhanna.”

Relieved, Agatha 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 command. Yes?”

“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 right now.”

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 Agatha

The man smiled, and said, “Most of my friends call me Subu or Wardog. You may choose what you prefer.”

------------------------- end of snippet 01 ---------------------

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Protesting Cats are Forcing an Apology!

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!

Friday, February 9, 2018

February will be Busy!

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.

The mantra that keeps playing in my head is...

Must Write Faster!!