Elemental Magic

Elemental Magic

Escapism and The Pain Season

I’m delighted to have fellow lawyer and author of hot urban fantasy, Libby Doyle, as a guest on my blog today. She’s here to talk about the inspiration behind the second book in her Covalent series.

* * *

Readers often ask me how I come up with my ideas. I tell them it is a mysterious alchemy. The way the light bounces off a skyscraper when I’m on my way to work in the morning makes me think how the sight would emotionally affect my characters. The sight of an impossibly beautiful couple makes me imagine their love story, or perhaps its tragic end.

I love escapism. I want my books to entertain. Life is hard and often boring, so I’ve written a few ripsnorters. I want to take people for a ride, light up their imaginations.

The science fiction/fantasy aspect of my stories is meant to be cool and fun. I have no pretense beyond that. But within that framework, my stories do what stories have always done. They draw you into the minds and emotions of characters and communicate something real by virtue of it.

In the Covalent Series, I’ve created a race of ancient beings who use their great power to keep the elemental forces of Creation and Destruction in Balance. In my fictional world, were it not for these aliens, the elemental forces would expand and transform into each other in an endless cycle. Everything would be destroyed. The Covalent bring stability to the cosmos. They sit at the still center of everything that exists.

So, imagine an immortal Covalent warrior, exiled to Earth because of the sins of his father, Lucifer, who rebelled against the rulers of their realm. Now, imagine this warrior meets an extraordinary human, an FBI agent, strong, smart and fearless, and falls madly in love with her. Not a real life situation, to put it mildly, but their passion teases out interactions that are all too human. Can love succeed when the lovers are not only from different cultures, but different dimensions? Does Barakiel, my heroic warrior, have the right to place the woman he loves in danger, which he does simply by loving her? He has enemies, you see.

Here’s an excerpt from The Pain Season:

Alexandra O’Gara sat on the couch flipping the pages of a magazine, too nervous to focus on reading. Normally, she liked it when Rainer asked her to wait for him at his place. Compared to her crappy little apartment, the ultra-modern space was an oasis of serenity, its sleek lines warmed by the rich wood of the furniture, the colorful rugs and the bright, abstract paintings. She had started a fire in the massive concrete fireplace despite the warmth of the night. She gazed into the flames.

Her phone buzzed. It was Rainer, talking rapidly, panic in his voice. When the call was over, she put the phone in her lap and stared at the floor.

What the hell?

Rainer’s tone led her to believe she should do as he said. Explanation or no, he wasn’t joking.

So much for my instincts. He must be involved in some criminal enterprise.

She suppressed tears as she pulled her service pistol from her bag. A 9mm Sig Sauer. Rainer had said there would be five assailants. She sent a prayer of thanks out to her FBI partner, Mel, who had insisted she get the Sig that took extra-capacity magazines.

Two twenty-round clips. That should do me.

Zan readied her firearm then ran to the front door. Before she opened it, she heard a vehicle drive into the compound. She looked through the peephole. A box truck.

I’ll never make it to my car. Should I call the police? Do I want to do that to Rainer? Have to explain this to my boss? I can slip out the back.

She remembered what Rainer had said about a defensive position. She decided on the weapons room. Its double doors were sturdy and it had an exit to the back balcony. She ran up the stairs. Once inside the room, she grabbed a pike off the wall and slid it through the handles to prevent the doors from opening. She waited. If they seemed like they could bust through, she would exit to the balcony, jump to the ground and hightail it to her car.

All I can do is hope they don’t leave someone outside to cut off my escape.

Zan opened the south-side window. She heard faint voices, doors slamming, the truck pulling away. She also heard sounds like rabid dogs would make if they were as big as grizzlies. Zan had not been afraid before, operating in some state of unreality, but the sounds brought fear screaming to her mind.

What the hell is that?

She ran to peer through the crack between the weapons room doors. She saw them crash through the front. Five huge, scaly, slobbering monsters with double-sided axes in their hands pushed the heavy wooden doors aside like they were paper.

The Monster


The Pain Season is available now at Amazon: goo.gl/O3MEfT, iBooks: goo.gl/JQIOHL, Barnes & Noble: goo.gl/sSNpSb, & Kobo: goo.gl/AHm51x.

Although not a cliffhanger, The Pain Season is not a stand-alone novel. The story begins in The Passion Season and will continue in The Vengeance Season coming in 2017. 

Libby Doyle is an attorney and former journalist who took a walk around the corporate world and didn’t like it. She escapes the mundane by writing extravagant yarns, filled with sex and violence. She loves absurd humor, travel, punk rock, and her husband. You can discover more about Libby’s world at http://www.libbydoyle.com.



“Three Little Words” – A Snowburn Short

“Three Little Words” – A Snowburn Short

Welcome to my stop on the SFR Station’s “April Fools for Love” blog event!

For my stop, I thought I’d offer a short story entitled “Three Little Words.” For those who have read Snowburn, this takes place about a week after the end of Snowburn and shortly before the beginning of Snowburn’s sequel, Throwing Fire.

I hope you enjoy!


I haven’t seen much of Ape lately. He’s probably been lying low, avoiding his sister’s wrath. Ape’s part in the run that brought Kez and me together, but also nearly killed her, came out afterwards. He may not have known the real purpose of the run, or who was behind it. But he was quick to volunteer his sister to take the fall. And Kez, being Kez, offered up her own flesh for his without a second thought. She’s a martyr when it comes to her family, my kitten. But she also holds a grudge. So she hasn’t had much to say to Ape since the run, and what she’s had to say, he hasn’t wanted to hear. Particularly since part of the post-mortem instructions that Old Man Tyng left us included an edict that Ape make an honest woman of his daughter. And Kez has insisted that Ape follow through.

So it’s a surprise when Ape pulls up a stool on the far side of the counter where I’m chopping tomallos for breakfast. He sits down, rests his elbows on the counter and puts his head in his hands.

“Early for you,” I remark. Kez’s crew are pretty dedicated night-owls.

Ape groans and looks up at me. I reassess. It’s not early for him, it’s late. Without another word, I toss a couple of handfuls of the tomallos into the grinder with an egg and a cup of cocomilk. Hand him a beaker of the resulting pink froth. He tilts his head back and downs it in one.


“Uh-huh. You’d better get some newskin on your neck before the girls notice,” I say, nodding at the red marks on his throat, revealed when his head was thrown back. Suck marks that I know Chiara did not put on him, since she’s still in Roysten, doing the meet-and-greet thing with the DeSal team.

He sinks on the stool, puts his head in one hand and closes the other around the side of his neck. Groans.

“Anyone we know?” I don’t really care who Ape spent the night with. What I care about is whether it’s someone who will tell Kez’s crew. Immature idiocy aside, Ape seems to really love Chiara. And she definitely loves him, although I have no idea why. Throwing that away over a drunk one-nighter seems like a waste.

“I don’t even know if it was a he or a she,” Ape mutters.

“Where’d you wake up?”

“Alley behind Bounce.”

The club Kez’s crew frequents. Could easily be someone we know. I shrug. It’s Ape’s problem in the end. I’ll tell Kez, so she’s forewarned. But Kez won’t tell Chiara. My kitten keeps secrets like no one I’ve ever known.

Ape rubs his hands over his red-blond crew cut. “I screwed up.”

I nod and keep chopping. If he’s looking for sympathy, he’s looking in the wrong place.

“How do you do it?” he asks.

I glance up at him. He’s asking me for relationship advice? “Do what?”

“Make Kez . . . you know.”

Happy? Sex. Lots and lots of sex. And trust. Trust doesn’t hurt. “Three words.”

“I’ve told Chi those three words already.” Ape shakes his head.

I doubt it. “I. Am. Sorry.”


Didn’t think so. “Works on all women. In all situations. As long as you mean it.”

Ape rubs his hands over his head again. He’d better not have lice, rubbing his head that close to my food.

“Watch,” I tell him.

I put everything down, wipe off my hands and walk over to the bathroom door. I tap open the door and beckon to Kez, who is standing at the sink, rubbing sealer over her teeth. Her implants are still new, so they need to be sealed every day. She looks at me in the mirror, lifts an eyebrow.

I wave two fingers at her.

She wipes the foam off her mouth and comes to me. Into my arms, the way she always does. I hug her as she looks up at me. Those big blue eyes full of trust and love and a little mischief, since we’re both only wearing bathrobes.

“I’m sorry,” I tell her.

“For what?” she asks.

“Interruptin’ you.” When she lifts an eyebrow, I say. “I just need a kiss.”

She beams. Goes up on her toes, wraps her arms around my neck, and gives me a deep, enthusiastic kiss. I kiss her back. Give her a little tongue and enjoy the sharp peppermint taste of her mouth. When she finally drops back onto her heels, I smile at her. Help her re-fasten her bathrobe.

“I’ll be out in a minute. I’m almost done,” she says. She scoots back into the bathroom, without even a glance at her brother.

I stroll back to the counter, pick up the knife and another tomallo and start chopping.

“It was the kiss,” Ape grumps.

“Followin’ those three words with a kiss doesn’t hurt,” I admit. “You think there’s anythin’ she wouldn’t forgive me right now?”

Ape hangs his head. “No.”

“Give it a try. You can practice on your sister. As long as you skip the kissin’ bit.” Kissing Kez is my job.

“I already told her I didn’t know about Tyng—” Ape begins huffily.

He is as thick as a thermobrick. I hold up the knife. “Three words,” I admonish.

Ape’s puffy face darkens. “Get off my back.”

I drive the knife into the counter a centimeter from his pinky finger.

You asked me for advice,” I growl at him. “I’m the one who holds your sister when she wakes up screamin’ from the nightmares that run gave her. So don’t tell me what you did and didn’t know. I told you how to fix it. You don’t like my advice, ask someone else.”

Ape eases slowly back from the knife. Swallows. “Uh, okay.”

I yank the knife out of the pseudowood. Wipe it off before I start chopping again.

Ape slides off the stool. Towards the bathroom. Just before the door, he turns back. “Snow?”


“I’m sorry.”

I glance up. Gauge his expression. Nod before I go back to chopping.

Kez emerges from the bathroom, passes her brother without acknowledgement and joins me behind the counter. She wraps her arm around my waist. Leans into me. “Can I interrupt you now?”

“Uh-huh.” I put down the knife and turn to kiss her.

When we come up for air, she asks, “What were you and Ape talking about?”

“Magic words.”

“Dead puppies?” she asks mischievously.

“Nope. Three words.”

Both brows rise. “You and Ape were talking about those three words? Why?”

“Don’t think we’re talkin’ about the same three words.” I chuckle.

“What words were you talking about?”

“What I said to you when I opened the door.”

“You . . . uh.” Her brow furrows as she tries to remember. “You said you were sorry.”


Kez rolls her eyes at the now-closed bathroom door. “You’d have more luck teaching the rabbits to fly than you would getting Ape to say he’s sorry.”

“Better get them some itty bitty flight suits, then.”

“Seriously?” She wrinkles her chin and shrugs. “Well, we’ll see.”

“He already managed it once. First time’s the hardest.”

“He did?” She looks up at me, eyes searching my face. “He told you he was sorry? Really?”


“Wow. Well, stranger things have happened.”

“Yeah, I accepted his apology.” Turns out, those three words work on men, too.

Kez chuckles. “That is stranger.” She goes up on tip-toe and kisses my cheek before she turns to the counter. Surveys the huge mound of chopped tomallos. “Jeez, how many are we feeding?”

“Those are just for me. Get your own.”

She laughs. Bumps me with her hip. When I pass her a bowl, she starts cracking pagia eggs into it while I get on with the spicy salsa I like with our morning omelet.


Enjoy the story? Read all of Snowburn here!

There’s also another Hale and Kez short here!

Want more sci-fi romance? Visit the rest of the tour via the SFR Station!

Sharon Black’s Going Against Type

I’m absolutely thrilled to be hosting Sharon Black today on my blog. Her delightful romance, Going Against Type, is now available through Tirgearr Publishing.

Going Against Type by Sharon Black - 200

Here’s the blurb:

Some would say Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Regan has it all. Beautiful, smart, athletic and a great job working as a journalist – in the almost exclusively male sports department. But Charlotte is not quite as sure as she seems. Recently split from her overbearing boyfriend, she escapes for weekends, surfing in the Atlantic, and spends her free nights watching sports, roaring at the TV.
Derry Cullinane is a fashion writer, gossip columnist and sophisticated man-about-town. The go-to guy for any woman seeking expert advice on what fabulous outfit to wear for any given occasion. He’s also tall, dark, good looking – and straight! So what’s the snag? He has a track record of dating glamorous, vain and shallow women.
Charlie gets an opportunity to write a new column under the pen name Side Swipe, but is soon drawn into a war of words and wit with a rival paper’s columnist The Squire – and their verbal fireworks get readers and editors talking. Yet neither Charlie nor Derry knows just whom the opponent is…
When Charlotte and Derry meet at the Races, the attraction is instant. As their relationship develops, so much more proves at stake, than protecting their alter egos. But a blunder puts Charlotte’s job in jeopardy just as Derry’s past makes front page, and Charlotte begins to doubt her feelings.
When Side Swipe and The Squire are finally forced to reveal themselves, will they revert to type – or confound everyone’s expectations?

Intrigued by this off-beat Irish romance? Here’s an excerpt:

‘So, did you get lucky?’ a deep voice drawled. Charlotte spun to find Mr Panama Hat grinning down at her. Bloody hell, she thought, smiling back despite herself. Any other man she knew would look utterly ridiculous in what seemed to be a tailor made, striped linen jacket and trousers, combined with that damned hat. But he carried it off with a self-confidence that bordered on swagger.
‘Yes actually, I did,’ she admitted, still smiling. ‘What about you?’
He grimaced.
‘I lost. My own fault. I took a flier on somebody else’s tip.’
Charlotte grinned sympathetically.
Mr Panama Hat shook his head, scowling briefly.
‘I read some bloody sports columnist from Ireland Today. Had a few winners earlier this week. As I said, it’s my own fault. I never normally bother with racing tips. Whoever it is, he obviously doesn’t know a horse from a three-legged stool.’
Charlotte swallowed hard.
‘So how much did you lose?’ she managed, trying to sound casual.
‘A thousand.’ He caught Charlotte’s horrified expression and laughed. ‘Hey, don’t look so worried! I’m a big boy.’
Charlotte stared at him in amazement. Who did that? Maybe he was a rich eccentric, the kind of guy who hung around the race courses, betting big. Not caring whether or not he won – or lost everything on the day.
That said, she was damned if she’d come clean!

To me, the author of this unique romance is just as interesting as her characters. Here’s a bit more about Sharon Black:


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Sharon Black grew up in Dublin. She studied history and politics at University College Dublin and then did post-graduate in journalism at Dublin City University.
She has worked for national newspapers, including The Evening Herald and The Irish Examiner.
She had short stories published in U Magazine and won the 2010 Dromineer Literary Festival short story competition.
When she is not writing, she reads, walks and sees friends. She co-founded a local book club 14 years ago. She loves theatre, old Hollywood films, science fiction and good stand-up comedy.
She lives in Sandymount, Dublin, with her husband and their three children.

Here’s how to find Going Against Type:

On Tirgearr Press

On Amazon US

On Amazon UK

On Smashwords

On Apple

On Kobo

On Nook

Don’t forget to visit Sharon’s Author Page on Facebook and give her a like!

Interview with Marie Lavender

It’s my great pleasure to host author Marie Lavender, who has stopped by to answer questions about her new release, Second Nature. (Stick around to the end for a chance to win a free copy!)

SecondNature-final cover

What inspired you to write your book?

My current release, Second Nature, was a long time coming. I worked on it off and on for years before I realized it would be a vampire story. I wrote Desiree’s character first and the rest sort of came out of that.


Do you have a specific writing style?

I believe I do. I have a certain way that I write; I am character-focused first and then I add in the other details. I am comfortable with that approach, and my fans appear to like it.


How did you come up with the title?

Good question. At first, it was untitled and then it had the crappy title of Love or Blood. One day, “Second Nature” just popped into my head and it fit the story perfectly.


Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Simply that we need to stay open-minded. Life doesn’t always turn out like we think it will; accepting that up-front can save a lot of trouble, I think.


How much of the book is realistic?

Well, the research I did on Baltimore is real and I had to look into the Civil War. Most of the paranormal stuff is fiction.


Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not really. I guess I’ve always been obsessed with vampire stories so it just naturally happened that way.


What books have influenced your life most?

Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause, which I read when I was thirteen, really opened my eyes to the whole vampire romance thing. And I’ve read a lot of books since that also did.


If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Nora Roberts is brilliant. I love her books! She knows what she is doing; I don’t know how she cranks that many books out all the time.


What book are you reading now?

Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward. This is probably the millionth time I’ve read it. LOL. Just kidding, but I’ve read it a lot.


Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Chloe Neill and Kris Tualla are fairly recent reads for me. I’ve been reading them for the past year or so. Linda Lee Williams is also pretty awesome.


What are your current projects?

I am trying to finish writing the third and final book of the Heiresses in Love Series (Victorian romance with some suspense). It is titled Upon Your Love. I also have a finished piece, A Little Magick, part of the Magick Series, which is with beta readers now. It is a children’s fantasy, but the previous book was an adult romantic fantasy book. The sequel to A Little Magick, tentatively titled Magick Sunrise, will also be geared toward adults. I have a lot of other projects, but I would say I’m more focused on the first two I mentioned right now.


Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I would have to say that my fiancé has been so supportive of all of my creative endeavors. He is also a creative individual; therefore, he understands the drive more than my family.


Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, definitely. I will always see writing as a job. Yes, it is something I truly enjoy, but some aspects of being an author are challenging. It is only natural to feel it is a career; it’s what I’ve always wanted to do.


If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No, I think Second Nature turned out very well. There is a point in writing when you have to say, “That’s it. I’m done. I did my best, and now it’s time to show it to the world.”


Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Was there a specific instance? Probably not. To me, it seems I’ve always had this drive to write stories, to create fictional worlds. I just know that I was nine years old when I started writing them down, but they were in my head before that point.


Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Of course. Here is an excerpt from Second Nature, book one of the Blood at First Sight Series, which was released on December 9th:


Soon, the car slowed and as she could still see nothing, she kicked her feet petulantly on the seat.

“Just relax. We’ll be inside in no time.”

“Sure. No problem. Just take me to your dungeon, Master.”

He chuckled. “You’re amusing, Desiree. I knew I liked you the moment I saw you, as soon as I heard your voice.”

The blood drained from her face. Oh my God. He had been that close when he was stalking her? That was eerie. She thought back to the festival and remembered that feeling of being watched. Natalie had brushed it off, but Desiree had sensed something was wrong. “What if … I had seen you?” she managed weakly.

“You didn’t.”

“But what if I had? Would you have given up your pursuit of me? Would you have lost interest?”


“But why?”

“You don’t see your appeal at all, do you?”

She went silent. She honestly didn’t know what to say.

They entered a garage, or at least that’s what she thought it was. He turned the car off and got out. When he opened the passenger side, he caught her foot just in time before she nailed him.

His eyes narrowed. “Play nice, sweetheart. I don’t have to be easy on you.”

“You’ve certainly proven that already.”

“You haven’t seen anything yet.” He grasped her body and jerked her out of the seat.

With the bright lights of the garage over them, she had a better look at him now. Alec was very tall, with wide shoulders and defined muscles that she could see through his black tee shirt. He had black hair that sprung over his head in spiky layers. His eyes were dark, almost without color, with such a hypnotic quality to them that she had to blink. He towered over her and the hard look in his eyes didn’t help any.

She shivered. But, that was his intention, wasn’t it? To keep her off-balanced and afraid? “You’re doing this because I know too much,” she said as she stood before him, even though she was still bound. She firmed her lips for a moment. “Take me back now and I won’t say a word to anyone. I swear. This never happened.”

He scowled. “Will that help you sleep at night? I told you that I hesitate to erase your memories because you’re too strong. Even if I believe what you just said, there’s something you’re forgetting.”

“What’s that?”

“I actually want you around.”



Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Well, research is always pretty challenging, especially if it’s not easy to find the answer right away. No, I would say most of the writing flows well until a character becomes difficult. As a writer, you have to pay attention to characters. Believe it or not, we’re not in total control of things. We can plot and plot, but those characters may still change something and sometimes it’s a pretty big something.


Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I love J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Series. I love the combination of vampires, romance and an ongoing war with the enemy. J.R. has this uncanny ability to make you care about the minor characters to the point where you want to know their stories as well. And she never disappoints.


Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

No, not at this point, though I would love to do more traveling for research.


Who designed the covers?

I had a different cover artist for each book. I have published twenty books. For sixteen of them, I got a license to use the photographs and designed the covers myself. For the books with Solstice Publishing, they hired different artists. Kayden McLeod designed the cover for Upon Your Return, the first book of the Heiresses in Love Series.  Select-O-Graphix did the cover for Magick & Moonlight, the first book of the Magick Series.  Deborah Melanie designed the cover for Upon Your Honor.  And the cover for Second Nature was designed by MLCDesigns4U.


What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I would say that writing the fight scene was the most difficult. I had to visualize it first, then write it out.


Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

If you’re going to write a trilogy, have a timeline in mind of how everything plays out or you’ll have a lot of issues when writing the sequels. I have learned that with all of my series books.


Do you have any advice for other writers?

This is going to be a strange answer. As a writer, you have to learn that fine balance between patience and perseverance. Be patient about getting published; it will occur when it should. But, know when to heavily pursue your goals as well. If you’re not ready, don’t rush it. But, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new either. You probably won’t regret it.


Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I want to thank all of my loyal fans for reading my books, and I hope the Blood at First Sight Series is exciting for you! And, if any of you haven’t read my books yet, I write in a lot of different genres and subgenres (contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance/fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry) so you’re bound to find something you like. You can find me on Google+, Twitter or Facebook if you want to stop by for a chat!


 Want to know more about Marie Lavender?

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Bestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 19 other books. 2014 BTS Red Carpet Review Nominee. Finalist and Runner-up in the MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Marie has published twenty books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance/fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Her newest book is Second Nature, a paranormal romance.  Lavender released Magick & Moonlight, a romance with fantasy elements, back in March. Upon Your Honor, released in late April, is her second historical romance. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series. Feel free to visit her website at http://marielavender.com/ for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

A list of her books and pen names are as follows:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor; Second Nature

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

Stalk Marie Lavender:



As Marie says, patience and perseverance pays off! Please comment with your preferred email address for a chance to win a free e-copy of Second Nature! I’ll use Random.org to pick a winner on Saturday, 20th December, so comment early and often! Giveaway ends at 17:00 GMT on 20th December 2014. (If you don’t want to enter your email address here, email it to me at emmafrostuk (at) gmail.com.)