Get out your wizard hats and call all your magical animal friends around, cause I have a treat that will tickle your Fantasy fancy! The stars of Seeking a Scribe are coming for a visit to tell us about a world that could only be created by Fantasy Romance Author Marsha A. Moore.
*Doorbell rings* Oh! They're here!
Charlene: *swings door wide* Lyra, Cullen, please do come in. Have a seat. May I get you some tea?
Charlene: *swings door wide* Lyra, Cullen, please do come in. Have a seat. May I get you some tea?
Cullen: *winks at Lyra* What have you been telling her?
Charlene: *smiles* It wasn’t Lyra. I peaked at your story. *glances over her shoulder as she pours the drinks* This is such a treat to have you both here. I really had a hard time keeping my daughter away. She’s an avid reader and when she heard you would be over, she wanted so badly to sit in. How long have you had your bookstore?
Cullen: About ten years, hoping Lyra would visit the shop.
Charlene: *hands them their tea and settles in the chair across from them* I understand there’s something special about it. Or is it you that’s special? *winks*
Cullen: Nothing odd about my tea. *takes a sip* You make a good cup of Earl Grey, Charlene. *sets his cup on the table and twists his silver dragon ring until the blue topaz eyes glow slightly*
Lyra: *samples Charlene’s tea* Good tea, Charlene. It’s him, not the tea. But I would like to taste that anise variety again some time. We’ve been so busy saving the Alliance from the Dark Realm of the Black Dragon, we haven’t had a chance to relax. *takes another sip* Ah! Anise! And memories of my family boating trips! *face lights with big smile as she looks at Cullen* Taste yours again, Charlene!
Charlene: Huh? Oh. *sips her drink* It’s Anise. *eyes light up* Oh my word! Chickie! I haven’t thought of Chickie since… *looks at Cullen* How in the world did you know about the little duck my Papa gave me when I was four? *clears her throat and scoots in her chair to regain composure* What made you first stop by Cullen’s place, Lyra?
Lyra: Before, I usually only stayed for a week or two on my visits and didn’t take in the shops much. But, this past summer, I decided to stay for two months and help my aunt, since she wasn’t well after another bout with cancer. Truth is, I didn’t really care for Aunt Jean’s nurse—talked way too much and drove me crazy. While she was there at the cottage, I explored town and found Cullen’s bookstore. Sure glad I did!
Charlene: So, * glances at Cullen with quirky grin* What where you’re thoughts when you met him?
Lyra: He was handsome, but a bit strange…especially since his tea he served me changed tastes and brought to mind certain childhood memories. And then his bookstore was even stranger, with moving shelves. *looks sideways at Cullen* But, what really got my attention was when you knew what my memories were before I even said anything.
Cullen: *grins sheepishly* I needed to get your attention without scaring you off.
Lyra: Actually, it was really nice having someone want to know me, want to understand me for a change. *smiling* Don’t let the high sorcerer title scare you, Charlene. He’s really a softie!
Charlene: *pinches her lips together dying to ask how he knew her memories too. weighs the High Sorcerer title with Lyra's "softie" title and decides to stick with the interview* Did you know Lyra would stop by?
Cullen: No, I really had no certain idea, but I was determined to connect with her. After all, that was my assignment from the Imperial Dragon. What I didn’t expect was what a wonderful woman she had become—caught me totally off guard.
Charlene: What makes her so special?
Cullen: Without magic, or perhaps it is magic…either way, she can seem to read people’s hearts, mine especially.
Charlene: And you gave her a certain book. What did you find when you opened it, Lyra?
Lyra: *sitting up in her chair* Well, we might not have enough tea-time to explain all that. First of all, it is beautiful. Charlene, you must visit some day. *looks to Cullen* Can that be arranged with the Imperial Dragon giving her permission?
Cullen: I don’t see why not, since she’s such a great friend of our author.
Charlene: *eyes widen* Oh my gosh! *sits up straight* Really?
Lyra: Great! The plants are amazing colors and have magic they use to respond to people. Many of the animals have some type of magic also. The more magic you have, the larger your aura, a colored light that surrounds your body. Wizards train magicals to use the powers they are born with.
When I reentered as an adult, I met with each of the four Guardians—the Phoenix, Unicorn, Tortoise, and Imperial Dragon—Guardians of Fire, Earth, Water, and Air. We traveled through all the peaceful parts of the Alliance side of Dragonspeir to meet them and lots of sorcerers and magical animal friends along the way. Slowly, I remembered each of them. Then, I had to face a hard task, a quest to save their world and Cullen’s source of magic that keeps him alive. I wasn’t sure I could do it. It was really hard, physically and mentally. I wanted to quit many times.
Charlene: *in awe* Could you ever imagine such a place existed?
Lyra: I forgot Dragonspeir when I lost my copy of the magical book, written by one of my ancestors, but when I opened the book again, after Cullen gave it to me…it was like going home again. I hadn’t forgotten. So, I don’t ever really remember not knowing about the magical world of Dragonspeir.
Charlene: Who is the Dark Dragon? Why is he trying to destroy the Imperial Dragon?
Cullen: The Black Dragon is leader of the Dark Realm that opposes the Alliance, led by the Imperial Dragon. The two factions have existed longer than anyone knows—even the Tortoise, our oldest Guardian who is delegated with the responsibility of maintaining historical records. The antagonism is older than time itself in Dragonspeir. There have been several leaders in those titled roles. *leans forward and twists his dragon ring until its blue topaz eyes spark with light* The Alliance has been in control of power for centuries and the Dark Realm is hungry for overthrow. We are on highest alert.
Charlene: Uh, *watches the topaz eyes on his ring and decides not to push the topic* I understand you have some help along the way. What kind of guides do you have?
Lyra: Oh! I’ve made some great friends. I love them all. Kenzo, the giant tiger owl and Cullen’s assistant, is such a loveable guy. He stays with me through thick and thin. Cranewort, the giant old sentry tree serves as gatekeeper at the Crossroads. He’s been like the father I lost, always keeping an eye on me with his clairvoyance while I’m in Dragonspeir. His hugs with his branches folding around me are the best! There are so many others, I hate to forget to mention…like Noba, Cullen’s familiar. He’s a tiny pseudodragon and has a heart of gold. And Bero—the leader of the herd of blue deer. His strength and steadfastness help me endure. I love them all!
Charlene: This all sounds so amazing. How long have you lived in this fantasy world, Cullen?
Cullen: I don’t per say live there. I can’t. I stay there part-time and have since Lyra was born, 35 years ago. Actually, I’m required to reside in Dragonspeir, since the magic of the Alliance is what enables me to stay alive, to fool death after two hundred years. That is the real problem Lyra and I face. I’m tied to that world, while she can only be a guest, granted permission by the Imperial Dragon. Her time there is very limited, unless she spends much time training to use her magical abilities.
Lyra: Unfortunately, although I’ve inherited lots of power from my ancestors to make me the next Scribe, I don’t really know how to use much of that power, only what comes to me intuitively. I’d like to be in Dragonspeir with him more, but …that’s our goal.
Charlene: Wow. *glances at her book self* Nothing I own could compared to any of this. Would you share an excerpt with us?
Chapter One: Licorice Memories
The smell of anise greeted Lyra as she opened the door to Drake’s bookstore. It took her back to happy childhood memories. Licorice-shoe-string-rewards for following her parents’ requests to stay on the dock while they secured the family’s pleasure boat to its trailer. The aroma brought a fleeting remembrance of times long gone, a treasure now that her folks had recently passed. At ease with the familiar scent, she settled into browsing through rows of antique bookcases.
The shop owner stuck his head around a set of shelves. “Do you like tea?”
“Yes, I do.” Before she could finish speaking, he disappeared. “Is that the wonderful smell?” she called out.
Kitchenware clinked in the back room. Receiving no answer, Lyra followed the noises, scanning collections as she walked. This bookshop appeared established, but surely she would have remembered it from her last visit to the Lake Huron village five years ago. Books were her passion, especially fantasy. She paused in front of that section and studied its titles.
The owner appeared, holding a pewter tray with a teapot, two cups, sugar jar, spoons, and napkins, which he laid on the corner of an old library table. She watched him carefully pour the tea and hand her a cup. He was about her age, mid thirties or a bit older, and handsome. His medium brown hair, peppered with gray at the temples, grazed his shoulders in wavy layers, and his beard was trimmed into a neat goatee. He wore long shorts, a knit golf shirt, and sandals—typical casual attire for this island resort community.
She set down her bag from the drugstore and accepted his offer with a smile. “Thanks. My name’s Lyra.” She blew across the hot surface of the tea to cool it and then inhaled the anise-scented steam. She closed her eyes to fully enjoy the memory. “Ah!”
“Afternoons of boating and licorice with your parents? Right?” he asked.
Her mouth dropped open. How did he know that?
He slurped from his cup. “Go ahead, take a sip. My folks gave me the same reward for taking my kid sister along on bicycle rides.”
Forgetting all about the tea, she asked, “How do you know my childhood memory?”
“Taste it.” His lips curled into a sly grin as he took another gulp.
She cautiously took a tiny sip, just enough to wet her lips and the tip of her tongue. The flavor flooded her mouth, and her mind swam with wonderful memories. The taste transformed into that of gigantic popcorn balls the sheriff’s wife down the street made for Halloween trick-or-treaters, accompanied by images of Lyra’s costume—a red, fringed gypsy skirt borrowed from Mom. Next came a pumpkin flavor and vision of holding a cold piece of “punky-pie” in her five-year-old hand. Another swallow returned her experience back to anise. “What is this? How did you know?”
“Let me introduce myself.” His grin spread into a smile as his eyes met hers. He took a step closer. “I’m Cullen, Cullen Drake, and I know many things. What I don’t know is what sort of books you like to read.”
His keen interest caused heat to rise in her cheeks. “Well, actually I have several favorites, all fantasy and magical realism. You have a number of authors I like in this section.” She turned to refer to the shelves behind her, but found non-fiction hunting guides instead. “This case held classic fantasy a moment ago!”
Cullen put down his cup. “It moved. It’s over here, and I have just what you want.” He slid an old-fashioned library ladder along its track, set the locking device, and climbed straight up to the top shelf.
Lyra followed, walking between four comfortable leather club chairs grouped on a Persian rug. A portrait of a young girl and a man wearing a cloak caught her attention. Something seemed familiar in the child’s smile.
The noise of books sliding on shelves distracted her. She moved to the base of his ladder and glanced up. The ceiling of embossed tin panels decorated with Victorian teardrop chandeliers and paper Chinese dragons made a unique combination, to be sure.
But Lyra was more curious about the strange happenings in the store and its owner. He was certainly odd, although not the bookish, geeky sort who usually ran bookshops she frequented. He had an athletic frame and strong legs.
“Can’t find it!” he exclaimed and quickly descended. His brow furrowed, he dusted off his hands on his shorts. “I’ve got to find that volume for you. If you don’t mind me saying, there’s a sadness about you. The book will make you happier than you’ve been since those days of licorice shoe strings.”
“After magical tea and shifting bookcases, I almost believe you.” She laughed to cover her concerns. Even four months after it was final, she worried that the loneliness she felt after her divorce blazed like a beacon on her forehead. But, Cullen knew so much—it startled her…actually, intrigued her. Her ex didn’t ever see inside her, didn’t want to. This man read her as though he knew her. Did he? He seemed so familiar.
“Once I find that book, I promise, you’ll be pleased.” He stroked his goatee. “Hmm. Where did I last see it?” The twinkle in his gray-blue eyes captivated Lyra. “Will you be here for the week? I can look for it and call you later.”
“I’m staying the rest of the summer with my elderly Aunt Jean. She owns a lovely cottage at the end of Walnut overlooking Lake Huron. I thought I’d keep her company and give her time away from her nurse during my teaching break. While I’m here, I plan to write my novel.”
“Great! You’re a writer? What do you teach?”
“Yes, and I teach American Literature at Southern University in Florida. Seems like you already would’ve known that since you jumped into my childhood memories,” she stammered, attempting some humor. Taking a long draught of the tea, her mind filled with memories of her pet dachshund wiggling next to her, displacing a row of dolls. Another part of her past he knew—impossible! Her forehead beaded with sweat.
“No, only thoughts associated with a lot of emotion, like the happiness of snuggling with your dog.”
“How?” she exclaimed, shaking her head. “I don’t understand.” Her mind swam, trying to grasp what happened. She desperately needed some fresh air. With trembling hands she set the cup down.
“I realize it must seem odd, but the book I’m looking for will help explain.” He leaned closer with a smile that somehow reassured her. “This is Saturday. If you can come by next Wednesday morning, I think I should have it for you by then…if you’d like.” He paused and looked into her eyes, waiting for a reply.
“Yes…I’m curious.” In spite of the confusion, she found herself agreeing. “Wednesday will work.”
“Fine. Let me take down your number in case I can’t find it.” He walked to the counter and located a notepad and pen. She dictated her number and full name, which he repeated, “Lyra McCauley, a lovely Celtic name for a pretty lady.”
“I think I need to go now. Thanks for the tea.” With shaking fingers, she collected her shopping bag and headed toward the door.
He escorted her out and offered his hand to shake, the corners of his goatee lifting into an inviting grin. “Enjoy the rest of your weekend.”
Lyra smiled and looked into his eyes, trying to discern his unusual clairvoyant gift. “You too.” The initial touch, of his palm against hers, sent electrical shivers along her arm. She jerked, yet didn’t let go, fascinated by the strong emotions flashing through her mind—attraction, excitement, and acceptance. After an awkwardly long pause, she dropped his hand, half-stumbled over the threshold into the sunshine, and took a long, deep breath.
She ambled to an outdoor café a couple blocks farther down Tenth Street, while her mind buzzed with questions. How did he know those things about her? She dropped onto a seat at an empty table, shaded by an umbrella. He was fascinating and frightening at the same time…and familiar. Her divorce and loss of her parents left her lonely. He intrigued her.
“May I get you something to drink while you look over the menu?” The waitress interrupted with a bright young voice, a college student working a summer job.
Startled back to reality, Lyra murmured, “Just water, please.” Alone in a crowd of lunch goers, her thoughts returned to the bookstore and many unanswered questions.
The waitress placed a glass of water in front of her.
She almost hated to drink and remove the sweet aftertaste of anise from her tongue.
Charlene: What a fantastic adventure. Are there more to come?
Lyra: *sitting on the edge of her seat* Definitely! I want to go back and take sorcery training. I need to master skills so I can be a real part of Cullen’s world, like he’s a part of mine now.
Charlene: Before you go, tell me… *leans toward them* What’s it like to have Marsha as an author?
Cullen: I take my job quite seriously, but this is more than expected. She is very demanding. Although, I have met Lyra and for that I’m grateful. Thank you for inviting us to have tea with you today.
Lyra: I like Marsha a lot! She’s let me do all sorts of exciting things to learn about who I am, and best of all, I’ve met Cullen. Glad to spend time talking with you, Charlene!
Charlene: *sets her drink of the coffee table and stands* Oh, thank you! It’s wonderful that you took the time to visit with me. I know you all are on tour and very busy right now. Where’s your next stop?
Cullen: Our next assigned stop with Marsha is on March 29 at Southern FriedGothic
Charlene: Well, the best of luck to all of you. I know Seeking a Scribe will be a hit. *waves as they leave then turns with an eager grin* Now, where’s my Anise tea!
Lyra McCauley is a writer and loves fantasy novels, but until she opens a selection from bookstore owner Cullen Drake, she has no idea he’s a wizard character who lives a double life inside that volume…or the story’s magic will compel her from the edge of depression to adventure, danger, and love.
His gift to Lyra, the Book of Dragonspeir, was actually her copy, misplaced years ago. Lost in her pain following divorce and death, she fails to recognize him as her childhood playmate from the fantasyland. Friendship builds anew. Attraction sparks. But Lyra doubts whether a wizard is capable of love. She’s torn—should she protect her fragile heart or risk new love?
Opening the book’s cover, she confronts a quest: save Dragonspeir from destruction by the Black Dragon before he utilizes power of August’s red moon to expand his strength and overthrow the opposing Imperial Dragon. Lyra accepts the challenge, fearing Cullen will perish if evil wins. Along with magical animal guides, Cullen helps her through many perils, but ultimately Lyra must use her own power…and time is running out.
Purchase at Amazon for only 99 cents!
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!
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Fantasy Faction staff page: http://fantasy-faction.com/staff-members?uid=38
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/marshaamoore