"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes." ~Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn

"The characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst." ~Publishers Weekly review of High Maga

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Special Guest Author: Marsha A. Moore

Please join me in welcoming author Marsha A. Moore as a guest blogger this week.  I met Marsha through the Magic Appreciation Tour and Booksale. Her fantasy romance novels Heritage Avenged and Seeking a Scribebooks one and two of The Enchanted Bookstore Legends, are currently available on Kindle.  Today she tells us a little about the system of magic that underlies both these novels, an approach that combines elements of astronomy and astrology.  At the end of her post, you'll also find an excerpt from Heritage Avenged.  Enjoy!

A Scribe's Mystic Astronomy Studies

I’ve long been interested in both astronomy and astrology. In my Enchanted Bookstore Legends, I combined the two fields into one that I call mystic astronomy.

The organization of magical power and leadership in my fantasy world of Dragonspeir world are founded upon principles of mystic astronomy. This is inspired by the balanced system of the four Chinese elements of creation: earth, fire, water, air. Chinese mythology ties those elements to sacred animals that foretell future events. The unicorn is supposed to spring from the center of the earth as the phoenix represents fire, the tortoise water, and the dragon air. For my legends, I selected those animals as the four Guardians who collectively govern the good Alliance of Dragonspeir.
Additionally, residents of Dragonspeir who inherit magical tendencies must learn to utilize their dominant element, air, earth, fire, or water, in order to control and develop their abilities. This means huge difficulties for my heroine, Lyra McCauley, who cannot learn fast enough to stay ahead of dangers from the Dark Realm.

The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are about Lyra, a woman destined to be one of five strong women in her family who possess unique magical abilities and serve as Scribes in Dragonspeir. The Scribes span a long history, dating from 1200 to present day. Each Scribe is expected to journey through Dragonspeir, both the good and evil factions, then draft a written account. Each book contains magic with vast implications.
Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her. 

When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction…Lyra becomes the Scribe.
In Heritage Avenged, the second epic fantasy romance of my Enchanted Bookstore Legends, Lyra questions whether Dragonspeir magic was responsible for her aunt’s death. She resolves to learn the truth and accepts the Imperial Dragon’s appointment into sorcery training with the Alliance. Additionally, her proficiency in magic craft is the only way she can bridge the gap between her human world and her lover’s. Cullen is her only family now. Evil forces try to steal her inherited scribal aura. Lyra must rely on her novice training to attempt to discover the truth about her aunt and find a life with Cullen.

Although Lyra has inherited the rare powers of a Scribe, among the highest in Dragonspeir, she cannot use her powers fully. She must learn to drawn upon them with control through formal sorcery training. Lyra, like all Scribes, is born under a fire sign and must be able to communicate with the main star of the Aries constellation—her birthmate star—in order to utilize her vast powers. That constellation gives her additional power, enabling her to call upon scribal powers of her ancestors locked in their birthmate star.
Members of the four Guardians who govern the Alliance are among her teachers. Each of the magic crafts she learns is founded upon the strength of mystic astronomy, channeling power from viewing one’s birthmate star.

A sky reader or sibyl from the nomadic Qumeli tribe instructs Lyra how to view her birthmate star, Hamal, the primary star of the Aries constellation. When Lyra first finds Hamal, bright in the winter sky, she jumps in alarm at how it boosts her power. The sibyl teaches Lyra where to locate different fire sign constellations that are present during other seasons when Hamal isn’t visible. These other fire stars will deliver a lesser but valuable increase in Lyra’s power. The Sagittarius archer can help her in summer from its position in the center of the Milky Way galaxy. In the spring sky, Lyra learns to locate the brightest star of the Leo constellation.
While these fire sign stars help increase Lyra’s internal scribal power, she is also taught that air signs blow or extend her powers, like wind fans a flame. The sibyl teaches her to look for Gemini in the winter, Libra in the spring, and Aquarius in the autumn sky to spread her power farther.

In addition to the lesson conducted by the sibyl, The Head Guardian, also known as the Imperial Dragon, instructs Lyra how to apply knowledge of astronomy to work magical air instruments—the Spheres of Sidus and the Lacuna Ales—to help her discover clues about her past and future. The positions of birthmate stars must be well understood and replicated in order to unlock the capabilities of those devices.
During Heritage Avenged, Lyra is under the gun to quickly learn this vast knowledge so she may control and use her powers. She’s anxious to use her new skills to find who may have murdered her aunt. Additionally, she is constantly pursued by those wishing to steal her scribal aura, which would leave her as good as dead without a soul. Those who attempt to protect Lyra are often injured in the process. These stresses force Lyra to race through her magic craft lessons, in attempt to stay a step ahead of the Dark Realm.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Heritage Avenged:  The Letter

Lyra worried about Cullen on his flight home. Despite the fact he was over two hundred years old, it was only his second plane trip. The few wizards of Dragonspeir who visited the real world seldom traveled far, and then not conventionally. He kept her safe in his world last summer. She intended to keep him safe in hers.

“Next!” the heavyset postmistress belted out.

 “I’ve got to hang up,” Lyra quickly whispered into her cell phone. “Be sure you call me when you land in Sault Saint Marie. Love you.”

She sighed and maneuvered to the clerk at the far end of the counter. If only they could live together in one world. She needed to learn more magic first and hoped to make a start in a few weeks, when she took her winter break from teaching to attend his Solstice Festival. Unfortunately, her formal lessons would have to wait until next summer.

When Lyra approached the counter, the woman peered over the top of her reading glasses as she shuffled papers. “Yes?”

“I’m here to pick up my mail from a vacation hold.”

“Theme of my day,” the postmistress muttered and then barked, “Name and ID.”

“Adalyra McCauley. Just since the day before Thanksgiving.” She fumbled in her purse and pulled the driver’s license from her billfold.

The women sighed, slid off her stool, and shuffled into a back room. A few minutes later, she lumbered back, carrying a small stack of letters, glossy ads, and magazines. She scooted the mail across the counter.

Lyra stuffed it all into a tote bag, then scurried to her silver Subaru sport wagon and tossed it into the passenger seat. Driving Cullen to the Tampa International airport and this stop barely left enough time to make it to the university in time to teach her ten o’clock class. But the memory of those lingering goodbye kisses made it worth the consequences.

She stopped for a red light at a twelve-lane interchange, tapping the wheel impatiently. The edges of the mail peeked out of the sack, tempting her. She pulled it into her lap and riffled through the letters. The usual bills. The signal remained red.

Thumbing quickly through familiar envelopes, one unusual return address caught her eye, William T. Betts, M.D., Washaw, Michigan—the island village location of Aunt Jean’s cottage on Lake Huron. Although addressed to Lyra, it had been sent to where her aunt lived prior to passing away. She couldn’t place his name as one of Jean’s doctors. Multiple postmarks revealed a path of forwarding, the oldest dated last August, a few weeks after the funeral. She checked the traffic light—still red.

She ripped open the envelope and yanked out the letter.

Dear Ms. McCauley:

I am writing this correspondence in my capacity of Birch County coroner. Please accept my condolences for the recent loss of your aunt, Jean Perkins. Prior to delivery of her remains to the Michigan State crematorium, her attending physician, Dr. Everett Schultz, requested an autopsy. Dr. Schultz and I wish to meet with you to discuss my findings at your earliest convenience.


                                                     William T. Betts, M.D.

A horn honked from behind and jolted Lyra into a panic. Her limbs froze and her eyes returned for another glimpse of the letter. She wildly scanned the page, searching for additional information. Aunt Jean had died of cancer. What more could they tell her than that?

At the time of Jean’s death, the abrupt change in her symptoms puzzled Lyra and made her question the visiting nurse. Hours before, her aunt’s mind had been lucid. Her eyes were clear and her breathing soft and steady, not a raspy death rattle. Now those initial concerns seemed grounded.

The driver behind her laid on the horn.

The noise jarred Lyra to the present. She exhaled an arrested breath. To brace her shaking arms, her free hand clamped the steering wheel. Unable to coordinate, her foot slid off the clutch and stalled the car.

A chorus of horns blared.

After fumbling with the ignition, she restarted and herded her Subaru into the stream of traffic. She locked her eyes squarely ahead to avoid angry road-rage stares from passing motorists.

One car pulled alongside and tooted. Her eyes shifted onto the driver who flipped her off before speeding away.

Shaking, she gave up rushing to be on time. Keeping her car safely on the road was challenge enough. She hung back to allow other cars to pass.

Plodding in the slow lane, her thoughts drifted to the letter. What had the coroner found? In September, the funeral home wrote, indicating they stored her aunt’s ashes, as Lyra directed, until she returned to collect them. The director never mentioned any question about the cause of death.

Lyra shifted before engaging the clutch. Grinding gears vibrated the car. White-knuckling the wheel, she gratefully turned at the sign for Southern University. Finally in her assigned parking spot, she slumped into the seat.

Before getting out, she reread the letter to search for clues between the phrases. She found none, but the words “earliest convenience” loomed. The doctor wrote the letter three months ago. Would that lost time make a difference?

Was it possible someone harmed Jean? Hundreds in the village visited the funeral and expressed sorrow. What about that strange man, Revelin? He came to Jean’s home, supposedly working as an aide from the home care division of the local clinic. He acted suspicious, trying to read Lyra’s computer screen, open to her draft of the new version of the Book of Dragonspeir. Maybe a person from Dragonspeir? A few supporters of the evil Black Dragon could enter her world. But who? His alchemist, Tarom, possessed enough power and talent. A chill ran down her spine, thinking of his glowing red eyes and crimson cloak with moving tentacles at its hem. She sighed. No obvious evidence linked either man.

Sun rays reflected light through her windshield from the modern glass and concrete English building. This alerted her to pull herself together and go inside. After sucking in a deep breath to steady her nerves, she opened the car door and stepped out. Her legs shook under her weight. Her shoulders sagged under the load of the briefcase and bags. With an awkward gait, she ambled toward her building.

She stopped cold. Students raced around her to make their classes. What about Eburscon? Alchemist for the Imperial Dragon’s Alliance. She clenched a fist, recalling his haughty, antagonistic manner. He openly disapproved of Lyra’s influence on anyone in Dragonspeir.

Opening a side door off the parking lot, she checked her watch. Five minutes past the start of class time. She braced herself, rearranged her bags, and climbed two flights—a short cut to the classroom which avoided the department offices.

Three minutes later, she arrived in the room, out-of-breath and shaking, in no shape to teach. But, the chairman kept careful tabs on all his non-tenured professors, including Lyra.

Thankfully, the lesson was an easy one, reviewing short story reading assignments. The students in her American Lit course, just returned from a long Thanksgiving weekend, didn’t want to hear a rigorous talk about Emerson and Thoreau. Most eyed her with groggy stares, heads propped on elbows. A handful of alert and prepared students vied to contribute, snapping out responses to Lyra’s discussion questions. Usually she enjoyed pitting them against each other, but today she merely appreciated their participation.

Her mind wandered two thousand miles away. She watched the clock, counting the minutes until she could talk with Cullen during his layover in Detroit.

Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Her creativity also spills into watercolor painting and drawing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transforming into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Crazy about cycling, she usually passes the 1,000 mile mark yearly. She is learning kayaking and already addicted. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and that spiritual quest helps her explore the mystical side of fantasy. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at new stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!

Visit Marsha at the following links:

Website: http://MarshaAMoore.com