Guest Author ~ Marsha A. Moore

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When Lyra McCauley learns residents of Dragonspeir’s Alliance are suffering with a deadly plague, she doesn’t heed the warnings of her fiancé, wizard Cullen Drake, to remain safe in her human world. After all, she’s the present Scribe—one of five strong women in her ancestry who possessed unique magic, each destined to protect the Alliance against the evil Black Dragon of the Dark Realm. With Cullen dependent upon Alliance power to maintain his immortality, the stakes are doubled for Lyra.

She leaves her college teaching and puts herself at risk for the community afflicted by black magic. To find a cure, she and Cullen travel into the vile, lawless underworld of Terza to strike a bargain with an expert. Their efforts further enrage the Black Dragon, vowing to decimate the Alliance and avenge the murder of his heir.

Lyra must secure the three lost volumes of the Book of Dragonspeir. Written by the three earliest Scribes, each book contains energy. Possession of the entire set will enable overthrow of the Dark Realm. Following clues into dangerous lands, Lyra and Cullen seek those volumes. His assistants, Kenzo the tiger owl and Noba the pseudodragon, prove invaluable aids. Only if they succeed, will the Alliance be safe and Lyra reach closer to the immortality she needs to live a life with Cullen.

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Excerpt:

Lyra almost deleted the email marked urgent, suspecting some virus that might take control of her computer, but stopped when she realized the sender was her lover—a 220-year-old wizard, who rarely used a computer. She couldn’t open the message fast enough.

Lyra,

Alliance mortals and lower magicals are taking violently ill. I’m leaving the bookstore for a while to offer aid. DO NOT come to Dragonspeir. Stay safe in your world.

Love always,

Cullen

She stared at the screen, twisting a strand of her long hair. Leaning forward, she gripped the armrests of the chair. Her breath caught when she noticed how the dragon’s sapphire eyes on her new bloodswear ring sparked from the energy of her concern. His message left her undecided, reading between the lines and weighing the choices.

Those affected—mortals and lower magicals—seemed to place her in the risk group, obviously Cullen’s concern. However, those mortals were all born in Dragonspeir, while she originally came from Tampa. Lower magicals did include members of both worlds. But as the current Scribe, Lyra possessed inherited power at least as great as high-order wizards. She just didn’t fully grasp how to command her magic yet.

She did want to help. Since her parents and dear Aunt Jean died, the Guardians, wizards, dragons, and other residents of the Alliance were her only family. Lyra’s unique powers might be useful, especially since they now lacked an alchemist.

Eburscon disappeared after he attempted to steal her scribal aura, and she’d heard no reports of him since, so he was presumed dead by many. According to Cullen, no one wanted him back. However, living without a person capable of creating remedies for a plague or widespread illness had left many residents uneasy. Some talked about trying to persuade Tarom, the Dark Realm’s alchemist, to switch his allegiance. Two centuries ago, he served the Imperial Dragon, leaving only when he couldn’t tolerate working under Eburscon any longer.

Despite ranking as the top wizard, the Imperial Sorcerer in the Alliance High Council, Cullen lacked alchemical skills. Even though untrained, Lyra possessed a keen intuitive sense in the craft. She could help him. Aries guided the fire in her scribal powers and also fueled her impatience.

Lyra checked and secured Aunt Jean’s cottage since the last gasps of late winter storms in the upper peninsula of Michigan could be brutal.

Dashing off a few emails to her college students in Florida, she gave them feedback on their independent study in the Fantasy Lit course. She was glad her leave from on-campus teaching responsibilities continued until the next fall term.

Lyra saved and printed the chronicle draft of her bloodswear quest, completed at the end of last year. It was mid-March, and she’d almost finished the written account, storing magic in her words that would empower the Alliance—her role as a Scribe. The hard copy she stuffed into a commuter bag to work on later with the Imperial Dragon and the other three Guardians. She needed to sort through their research details that had helped her kill the heir to the Black Dragon. Additional supplies could be conjured from memory.

Outside, the dock in the backyard looked weather-beaten but sound. Waves from Lake Huron lapped at its old boards. In the flower bed, the first spring perennials peeked through the packed ground and would require plenty of care soon. Lyra hoped to be back in time to maintain what her aunt had loved so much. Crocuses stood bravely against the melting snowpack—a reminder.

As she turned from the garden, a large black butterfly flitted around her head. It was the same type that had spied on her before and been in her aunt’s room when she was killed—purple spots like eyes on its wings. Suspecting it was a transformed magical from Dragonspeir’s Dark Realm, Lyra swatted at the insect. Thinking that someone watched her leave caused a chill to run down her spine.

Finally shooing it to the nearby bushes, she lifted her head high, put her bag inside her silver Subaru sport wagon, and drove straight to Drake’s Bookstore.

After parking in back, she twisted her dragon ring to unlock the back door of Cullen’s shop, no longer needing the magical skeleton key. “Sheridan, I’m using your portal,” she called out.

From his cage on the showroom counter, the cicada chirped, “I already knew it was you, sweetheart. Nice perfume.”

Lyra shook her head. Darned bug never stopped flirting.

“By the way, Sire Drake told me to not let you pass. Something about an illness in the Alliance. Don’t make me use my magic on you.”

“I’m going anyway,” she replied as she prepared herself in the storage room.

“Like I knew you would,” he snapped.

She gave her ring another twist and stated, “Pateo porta!” In response, two metal bookcases moved apart. Between them lay the connector to Dragonspeir. She stepped across. The familiar tingling sensation now felt invigorating, when last summer it had frightened her. Her jeans, t-shirt, and jacket transformed into a full-skirted gown of light blue cotton under a navy cloak.

It was her first time back since being publically honored for completing her bloodswear quest and sorcery studies. She’d have to wait to find out if her new abilities could alter the clothing she acquired at the portal.

Lifting one side of the long garments, Lyra ran the short distance along the wooded trail to the location of the old, sentry tree, Gatekeeper Cranewort. Reminding her of the shape of grand live oaks in Florida, his branches spread wide and high, taller than any nearby. His large, flat leathery leaves were turned to collect the warm morning rays.

“Hello, Cranewort,” she called ahead. “I don’t mean to disturb your sunbathing, but I need to pass to the Imperial Dragon’s lair, or to the Meadow—whichever place I can help most with those who are sick.”

“Not sunbathing, child, merely enhancing my immune functioning to bolster my health after the harsh winter. Sire Drake instructed me to not permit your passage. He and all of us fear you will fall ill.” He lifted extensions of his roots into a spiky barricade, one of his gate-keeping defenses.

“Perhaps I can help,” she maintained, hands on her hips.

“It looks to be a horrible disease—elevated fever, chills, vomiting blood. Some are dying. Please stay here, Adalyra.”

“I’m not like any from Dragonspeir. I won’t get it.” Lyra hoped what she said was true but couldn’t turn her back on thousands who were ill.

“Well…you most certainly are unique.” He folded his leaves and tipped his trunk forward to look at her directly. “The Alliance relies on your special scribal abilities to battle the Dark Realm. Losing you to illness would risk too much. Be wise and stay back.” He smoothed down his bark and held out a twigged hand to her.

She stepped beyond his touch. “The entire Alliance is my family, and I need to help them.”

The gnarled tree let out a sigh and lowered his roots. “Very well. You have your own mind, and it is one of a leader. That is your inheritance from the four female Scribes in your family. But, I expect you to use every caution available. Sire Drake is in the Meadow. Stay with him.”

“I promise.” Lyra hurried toward the crossroads, which connected dozens of trails. There she selected the short path leading to the Meadow.

Pluch trees lined the trail. Their weeping branches, active with new sap, swept after Lyra in attempt to caress her golden hair, now grown almost to her waist. Flower buds on the bell flowers peaked out. The air held gentle notes of fragrant jasmine from the vine’s first purple flowers. She took a deep breath as she sped down the familiar walk. She had missed Dragonspeir.

Along the way, Lyra thought about her action, entering the land without permission. Although she recently passed sorcery training for all crafts except powerthrowing, Lyra only elevated her immortal status. In Dragonspeir, they used the term afflation—having received divine impartment of knowledge and strength to endure more physical hardship than a non-magical. Until gaining enough afflation to become fully immortal, she needed to be invited by the Imperial Dragon to be his guest in Dragonspeir.

As a new Alliance sorceress, the Imperial Dragon decided when he needed her. Lyra clearly broke his established protocol. But she often bent Alliance customs to suit her needs while working for the greater good. So far, she had only raised eyebrows, and no one troubled her. She hoped this time would be the same, but entering a plague-ridden land against orders was a bit different than wearing jeans or hugging dragons.

About the Author:

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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!

Find Martha online at her website, Twitter, Facebook, Fantasy Faction staff page, Goodreads, Google+.


Guest Author ~ Andrew P. Weston

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I’m honored to have Andrew P. Weston here today, because I’ve been focusing on the quickly approaching NaNoWriMo, I’ve been a bit focused on world building so I asked Andrew to talk to us about how it worked for him. Don’t forget to enter the drawing at the bottom of the page for a chance to win Andrew’s book Guardian Angels.

Andrew’s Response:

That was quite a shock.

I did a great deal of homework BEFORE I started to actually write my concept down. I’d seen the value of being thorough, and noticed how established greats like Raymond E Feist, Trudi canavan, J.K. Rowling, and Julian May had taken the time to build a “real feel” to their forms of magic/psychic powers etc, and the people behind them. So, I did the same, adapting it to my concept.

“Guardian Angels” is a story that describes the adventures of a futuristic Global Emergency Service as they introduce themselves to an unsuspecting world at large.

As we get to find out, they have always been there behind the scenes, watching and waiting for the time when they could reveal themselves to us at long last.

The extended blurb explains their impact:

A small boy runs in front of a truck.

Miners trapped in the aftermath of a devastating underground explosion have no hope of escape.

A stricken passenger aircraft plunges thousands of feet towards the earth below.

Everyone survives!

Why?

Because they are among the first in a number of miraculous interventions that heralds to the world that, “Guardian Angels”, blessed with extraordinary powers and incredible technology, actually exist!

While society in general reacts with euphoria, not everyone is pleased!

There are those in power and those within the criminal underworld, who seek to counter the threat they feel these awesome newcomers represent.

Early confrontations ensue, leaving many hungry for retribution, and their revenge is exacted at a terrible price in lives and suffering.

The resulting deaths do succeed in creating a backlash that causes people to lose hope in their newfound friends, and which changes public opinion forever.

Is the fairy tale over before it even begins?

“Guardian Angels” is a powerful and compelling story about the catalyst that could at last, galvanize society to unite and look towards the future with hope.

Sadly, it also reveals how fragile such a spark of hope could be.

So, knowing this was going to happen – I had to plan ahead to build their “world” and their “history”. The Guardian concept was so involved that I had to add almost 6 months of work to my schedule before it ever got to the typing stage. Let me explain the framework.

Included within this framework was their own personal history in relation to that of the people of earth. For example, where are the Guardians from? How did they come to be? Where have they been until now and what have they been doing? WHY did they remain hidden? What made them decide that NOW was the time to reveal themselves?

Okay – they also have special abilities and futuristic technology.

Regarding the tec…

How was that technology developed? How far in advance of current “earthly” technology is it? Is what I devised “in agreement with known/developing theoretical science? Is it plausible that advanced science could develop in this way so the reader can relate to it without thinking…’that’s too far-fetched’?

Regarding the abilities…

What abilities are we talking about? Can people relate to them? How would they be employed? What are their limitations and strengths? How much training would be required to realistically be able to use them in a real life disaster or emergency situation?

The Guardians themselves are a disciplined service.

So, where and how do they train? What does that training involve? For how long? How are candidates selected? Where would they go for such incredible instruction? What education/schooling would they need to enhance their technical, physical, and psychic capabilities? What would be an acceptable/believable threshold?

What uniform would they have? What rank structure? How & when are they promoted? How are their ranks and abilities reflected or represented on their uniforms?

Building a realistic world, with a believable history and time-line formed a huge chunk of the preparations that took place BEFORE the story itself even began to be written. In my case, almost 6 months of planning went into this stage, so that I could add a depth and realism to my creation that really helps it stand out from the crowd.

Once it was in place, I then had to select “where” along the timeline it would be best to introduce our story, and how I would then dip from there into, eg, history, ancient history – the future or the culmination of the entire series.

I’m a firm believer in being thorough. “World Building” allowed me to achieve something wonderful.
My story and characters reflect a richness they would otherwise lack, and the reader is helped to appreciate…”THIS is something I want to get to know and be part of”.

Thanks for asking me for my thoughts/topic. It was nice to express something a little deeper about a concept that was a long time coming. I hope it stays even longer! J

Have an excellent day!

Andy

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Blurb:

In a series of terrifying events, otherworldly beings intervene to save innocent lives. The world community reacts with relief as they realize that angels may in fact exist, and they are diligently protecting us.

But there are those who would seek to stop what they feel is a threat against their livelihoods. How far will some go to battle the Guardians? Is the fairy tale over before it even begins?

Guardian Angels is a powerful and compelling story about the catalyst that has the power to unite society in the hope for a better future. The spark of hope is fragile—can it last?

Buy Link:

Pagan Writer’s Press

About the Author:

Andrew Weston

Andrew P Weston was born in the city of Birmingham, UK and grew up in the towns of Bearwood and Edgbaston, eventually attending Holly Lodge Grammar School for Boy’s where he was School Captain and Head Boy.

He was an active sportsperson for the school, college and a variety of rugby, martial art, swimming and athletics teams throughout the city.

On graduation in 1977 he joined the Royal Marines fulfilling a number of roles both in the UK and abroad.

In 1985 he became a police officer with the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, and served in a variety of uniformed and plain clothed departments until his retirement in 2008.

Over those years, he wrote and illustrated a selection of private books for his children regarding the life of a tiny kitten, called, “The Adventures of Willy Whiskers”, gained further qualifications in Law and Religious Studies, was an active member of Mensa and continued to be an active sportsperson, providing lessons free of charge to local communities.

An unfortunate accident received on duty meant Andrew had to retire early from the police force, but after moving to the sunny Greek island of Kos to speed up his recuperation, he was at last able to devote time to the “Guardian Concept” he had developed over his years in the military and police.

When not writing, Andrew enjoys Greek dancing and language lessons, being told what to do by his wife, Annette, and hunting shadows in the dark.

Andrew is now contracted to Pagan Writers Press for two books.

“Fairy Tail”, is a dark and gritty paranormal thriller with a twist.

The second book, “Guardian Angels” is the introductory book to the “Guardian Series”, a sci-fi/fantasy epic set in the near future.

Further work on the Guardian Series and a new paranormal series has been completed and will hopefully be presented soon.

Find Andrew online at: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win paperback and ecopies of Guardian Angels