THE EARTH SHIFTING News:
Dear readers and fans, due to the busy Holiday Season, both my distinguished editor and my fabulous book formatter have requested a bit more time to finesse all the details. Aww, well, since the end of the world on 12/21/12 will be postponed anyway ;), and since the most important thing in any book is quality, I have made a decision to release THE EARTH SHIFTER a little later than originally anticipated.
Therefore, the new ebook release date is December 31, 2012. “Just don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world, so to speak,” as my editor so aptly reminded me. 😉
I did like the original release date of 12/22/12 very much, due to the peak of the Galactic Center alignment on that day. Read more about this rare and fascinating event in my previous post. However, according to my editor, the last week of the year very few people read books; they are more likely to take active vacations. On the other hand, come New Year’s, the readers will be primed and ready to fill with awesome new reads all the Nooks, Kindles and Tablets they’ve received for the holidays. We shall see soon enough how right she is!
Till then, enjoy Excerpt 2:
THE EARTH SHIFTER
2011, Lake Baikal, Russia
Sasha Elfimova could hardly be called a normal teenager. She always preferred the serene majesty of Lake Baikal in southeastern Siberia to the hustle and bustle of Moscow. What’s more, she had powers—incomprehensible and scary powers. She was a Time and Mind Shifter, yet even her mentor, the famous Siberian shaman Tengis, didn’t know how far her powers would develop when the time came…
Sasha dipped her hand in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Baikal, now gleaming seductively in the light of the full moon, and smiled at her companions: the old shaman Tengis and her father, the Moscow University professor of linguistics, Maxim Elfimov. They were camping out near the lake’s shore, in their secret spot, just an eight-kilometer hike from Polyanka, Tengis’s native village.
Earlier today, after some hiking in taiga, they performed a shamanic ritual at Tengis’s sacred site, called the Shaman Rock. After that, as golden rays of the warm summer sun started giving way to the coolness of the silvery moon, they decided to camp out in the Bay of the Seals on Baikal’s majestic shore. The seals enjoyed sunning on the gleaming rocks that wrapped the hidden bay. Sasha had just finished having a chat with her favorite local inhabitant, Filya the Seal.
“Good catch today,” Filya informed her telepathically, languorously exposing his shiny wet body to the sun’s fading rays. “You’ve got to dive very deep into the sea to get the best fish. If you want, Sasha, I can bring you some next time,” he offered, looking at her adoringly with that cute, cat-like face of his. As the last ray of the waning sun pierced the water, Filya dove back into the lake, undoubtedly to find a nice, cozy spot in which to slumber.
The sea… Just like local humans, Filya regarded Lake Baikal as the sea. Perhaps it was part of his genetic memory. The endemic population of seals in the land-locked Baikal was an enigma, one of the many mysteries of this place. The scientists postulated that seals probably swam from the ocean during the Ice Age and stayed here. Kind of like American Indians, indigenous Siberians, who in the long by-gone era had walked across the narrow sleeve of frozen water between the two continents, the one we now call the Bering Strait and subsequently made their home in the vast lands now called the Americas.
It was getting chilly. This was Siberia; you could get a terrific summer tan in these parts during the day, but the chill of the night reminded you forcefully where you really were. Shivering, Sasha pulled a warm sweater out of her favorite backpack and put it on. The supple black leather backpack was a sixteenth birthday gift from her father, which he brought from his Italian trip, and the sweater was of her very own design and execution, artfully knitted with chunky yarns of the sunniest shades of sky blue—to match her eyes.
Finally, wrapped in cozy softness, she leaned her head on her father’s well-worn, Soviet-era rucksack, which still preserved the warmth of his body, and stretched her long, pleasantly tired legs. She squinted into the slithering flames of the campfire, her eyes following the escaping sparks straight into the sky, all the while inhaling deeply. The aroma was intoxicating—a mixture of pine, fresh water, and an elusive ingredient this place alone possessed in abundance, a scent the Mother Nature herself must have brewed in her secret labs for the few lucky souls to enjoy.
Sasha half-listened as her father and the old Shaman Tengis talked. Maxim wore his usual Soviet-made hiking gear and boots, insisting they didn’t make them like that anymore. He pensively stroked his short, dense beard (he always let it grow out in Siberia—warmer, and a break from shaving, according to him). Tengis, sitting in his usual lotus pose, gazed into the fire with those penetrating Asian eyes that seemed to be able to see into other dimensions. His beard was rare, as Asian beards tend to be, and all white. As Tengis talked, small clouds of puffy smoke issued from his mouth. It was one of his funny habits—he was a virtuoso when it came to talking without taking his pipe out of his mouth.
Sasha let the smell of taiga and the breeze from Baikal wash over her. The sacred lake of Siberia, Baikal, contained more than one fifth of the planet’s fresh water reserves. An average lake on Earth had rarely survived past the age of ten thousand years. There was nothing average about Baikal. Over a million years old, rather then contracting with age, it kept expanding. Scientists believed that Baikal was an ocean in the making, while the locals swore that its pristine blue depths possessed incredible healing and spiritual powers. At the moment, the sacred lake was a gleaming, rippled sheet of silver in the light of the full moon.
The dark taiga—Siberia’s giant untouched forest—loomed silent just behind them. The kettle bubbled merrily on top of the makeshift fire, as Tengis took out three travel mugs and got busy brewing his famous green tea.
“Sasha, tea?” He offered her a steamy cup, which she accepted gratefully. There was nothing better than Dedushka Tengis’s green tea after a day of hiking in taiga. She stretched her legs in front of the fire and savored it slowly.
She called him Dedushka, meaning “Grandpa,” ever since she could remember, because it seemed he was always there, and she had the feeling that he always silently and unobtrusively watched over her. Tengis wasn’t related to Sasha, of course not. He was a small, bowlegged Asian man with squinty dark eyes that pierced directly into your soul, as if it stood wide-open for everyone to see. And Sasha, who took after her father, was tall, with huge blue eyes and flowing hair that was the sunny color of ripe Russian wheat. The color of her hair she actually inherited from her mother, Olga.
Too bad Mama couldn’t make it, thought Sasha. Olga Elfimova had a very important job in Moscow and couldn’t join them for the summer vacation. She worked for Russia’s richest man, multibillionaire Boris Konukovsky, who was a CEO of NORUS, the country’s largest oil company. He was a very demanding man and Olga often kept long hours, because no one argued with Mr. Konukovsky if they wanted to keep their job and a head on their shoulders.
Maxim, being a professor, had summers off. School ended on June 22 and they just gave themselves enough time to pack. Both Maxim and Sasha couldn’t wait to get out of Moscow and submerge into Siberia’s untouched wilderness. While packing, Sasha had a persistent feeling that something very important was awaiting her there. Today was June 29, their sixth day on Lake Baikal.
“So quiet.” Maxim broke the silence. “Beats the city every time.”
“It’s another world,” Sasha echoed. “Peaceful.”
Just as she finished her sentence, she noticed two gleaming yellow eyes staring straight at her from the darkness of the trees.
“Dedushka Tengis,” she whispered. “Look!”
Tengis slowly turned his head in the direction of the gleaming eyes, as Sasha gave a slight gasp. More and more eyes were appearing in the surrounding darkness, and now at least ten pairs stared at them from various corners.
“Wolves,” mouthed Maxim. “Sasha, get behind me.” Maxim started getting slowly to his feet, while at the same time reaching for his hiking stick. “Sasha, behind me—now!”
“No, Papa!” Sasha shook her head. “You won’t achieve anything with your stick against ten wolves. Let me talk to them.” She started getting to her feet, too.
“No, Sasha, no! These are wolves, not seals!” Maxim made a quick move in her direction, as if trying to shield her, and that caused the wolves to growl.
“Papa, don’t,” Sasha whispered. “You are provoking them!”
“Oh, sit down and be quiet, you two!” said Tengis finally in an uncharacteristically sharp voice, carefully setting down his smoking pipe on the nearby rock. “I will handle this.”
Tengis rarely, if ever, got this way, which meant that he was serious. Sasha obediently sat back on the ground, and as she did, her nostrils were suddenly overpowered by the foul stench of a large, sweaty animal that appeared out of nowhere next to her. She turned her head to the right and saw a huge brown bear right where Tengis sat just a moment ago. The bear’s fur was shaggy, and as he got up to his hind feet, his towering form blocked the moon.
“Oh, my God!” yelled Maxim, jumping back to his feet. He threw himself on top of Sasha, attempting to protect her with his own body.
Sasha struggled to free herself. “Papa, it’s okay! It’s not what you think. Let me go, please!”
“Sasha, be quiet,” whispered Maxim frantically. “I will protect you!”
“You don’t need to, Papa. Just watch!”
Meanwhile, the bear didn’t even look at the two struggling humans next to him and made a deliberate beeline for the wolf pack. After taking several steps in the direction of the taiga, he again got up on his hind paws, his menacing claws shining in the light of the moon. Then, the bear opened his mouth, his growl rocking the forest. One of the wolves issued a squeal and started backing up. The others reluctantly followed.
The bear took a few more steps in the wolves’ direction and opened his mouth again. A growl, even louder than the first one, broke the stillness of the taiga. Two of the wolves deserted the field in a hurry; the rest backed up some more. Then, the bear stood all the way up on his hind paws, his giant front paws outstretched, and the third growl rocked the land. It sounded like the final warning. The wolves decided not to argue. The rest of the pack turned around and ran for their lives from this strange and dangerous beast that appeared out of nowhere and for some reason wanted to protect he humans.
The giant bear issued one more growl, evidently to reaffirm his victory. After that, he turned to face Sasha and Maxim…and smiled. His huge body started shrinking, until it was the same height as the tiny Tengis. A moment later, the bear was gone and the shaman was standing next to them, brushing the dust and animal hairs off his clothes.
“Still smell a little like the bear,” Tengis noted, chuckling. “Can’t be helped—residual effect. But no matter, it’ll air out by the time we reach the village.”
End of Excerpt 2
Much more great stuff coming your way! Stay tuned!
Large-size cover, book blurb, and other details: LadaRay.com
Excerpt 1 & Galactic Center Alignment on 12/21/22
THE EARTH SHIFTING News
Click here for awesome images of the SACRED LAKE BAIKAL, SIBERIA
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It will be up on B&N Nook in a couple of days. It is also coming shortly to all other ebook retailers. All buy links, as usual, will be posted here and at my official website LadaRay.com. For those who have asked me, paperback is planned for 2013, date TBD.
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Question: Is an Oblast comparable to any American governmental subdivision such as a State or County?