Books, Books and More Books!!

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

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!!

Snippet Time!! Coven Codex, Book Two in the Standard of Honor 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 right.

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 the ground.

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 Zhanna’s sleeve.
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 heart.

“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 herself.

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 stared.

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 dangers.

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.”

Snippet end
I hope you enjoyed it!
If you haven’t read Book One now might be a good time to do so.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Familiar Travels - The next book in the Familiar Magic Series is LIVE!

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.