Creativity & Creative Truths

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When I started creativity coaching training, I wished to learn new ways to bring into focus a truth I believed in and still believe to this day. Creative people must create, or the host of mental and physical problems that come from denying their creativity is enormous. From my own creative work and coaching experience, I’ve repeatedly witnessed the misery that comes from individuals not acknowledging and acting on their creativity. Creativity, for some, is as vital to life as breathing.

Despite this reality, fighting against a societal belief (and internal belief) that says creativity isn’t worthy may not be the best tactic.

Perhaps discovering personal creative truth is better.

What do I mean by creative truth? It’s surrendering to the understanding that for some creativity is vital to physical and mental health. I’ve seen creative people talk themselves into a restrictive box filled with “shoulds.” I believe creative individuals need coaches who can help them discover personal creative truth. While there are infinite creative truths, a few jumped to mind as I trained to become a coach that I believe are vital for lifelong creativity.

Creative Truths I’ve Discovered

*Any impulse to create should always be honored.

*Stifling creativity because of outside expectations is often damaging to free expression.

*Individuals must discover which creative method motivates them and recognize there is no wrong way to create.

*Acknowledging a childlike desire to play (recess if you will) usually results in joyful creation.

*Problems with inspiration begin when you talk yourself out of being who you are as a creator.

*Refilling the creative well often gives the creative individual what they need to boost them over any roadblock.

*Creating what you believe is interesting and meaningful is top priority. Creating what someone else deems worthy will eventually be unsatisfying.

I hope every creative journey you take brings you the greatest of happiness and health.

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Denise A. Agnew, owner of Creative Pen Coaching, brings over twenty years in the publishing industry into her creativity coaching. Denise helps individuals excavate their way to the truth behind their creative challenges. Contact her at www.creativepencoaching.com and denise@creativepencoaching.com

Early Preview: Winterfall Excerpt

Today I’ve got a small excerpt for you from Winterfall (Wasteland Trilogy #3) which is set in the post apocalyptic world after the Long Valley super volcano erupted and altered the United States and the world. Winterfall releases June 15.

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A firefighter and a former soldier have survived an apocalypse, but there is still danger lurking in the winter light…

Firefighter Juliet Van Pelt’s strength comes from previous adversity, but there’s an arsonist in town who wants to crank up the heat. When threatening letters target her, she turns to the one man she has never forgotten.

Former Army Ranger and sniper Mark O’Day can’t forget the woman he met months ago when their city was in chaos and they shared a dangerous moment. When opportunity brings her into his life again and danger threatens, he knows there is no alternative but to keep her close and never let her go.

* *

After they piled out of the trucks, she caught something out of the corner of her right eye.

Sentry Security.

The same bunch who’d worked the fire in April. She hadn’t seen them at the other fires and wondered if they’d lost their contract to help with law enforcement. But here they were. To Juliet’s surprise, her heart started to bang again, but less from fear and more from excitement. She took precious seconds to glance toward the black SUV and note that the three security people she’d seen at the fire in April were there, and so was another man she’d never seen before. Her gaze snagged on a broad, strong back and a particular walk she recognized. He turned toward her and oh, yeah, it was him. Tall, dark, and drool-worthy. A bolt of attraction hit her. A full on sensation that curled low in her belly and tingled in her nipples. It shocked her. When the hell had that ever happened just from seeing a guy?  No, she didn’t want to feel this way, didn’t want to experience lust for the mystery man. Because, yeah, that’s what it was. If he recognized her, he didn’t acknowledge it. Tricked out in tactical gear and a big rifle that resembled military ACUs, he strode toward the crowd that had gathered. No police had arrived so far as she could see.

She quickly turned her attention back to her job. 

The firefighters secured their helmets, dealt with the hoses, donned breathing apparatus and tools, and took orders to enter the structure. The house was abandoned but they’d certainly look for homeless or other squatters…they’d assume someone could be inside. Along with additional firefighters, they headed into the furnace, ready to beat back the beast.

They’d been in the structure several minutes working the hose and, gaining some progress. Firefighters not on the hose had searched and cleared the house of victims. Everyone now worked to make sure the flames couldn’t sneak up on them. Yet it wasn’t too long before the chief’s voice crackled over their radios.

“Stiker, Van Pelt, Ballard get out now! Get out! Collapse imminent!” Fire Chief Reggie Krisky’s voice roared commands.

Juliet was at the back of the line holding the hose, but she didn’t hesitate to obey Chief Krisky. No one with a half a brain in this job would disobey. Sweat rolled off of Julie’s scalp and soaked into the baklava around her neck as she headed toward the front of the burning Victorian along with Stiker and Ballard. At least the sweat couldn’t break the seal her self-contained breath apparatus made against her face. Life-giving air filled the mask, and even though her breathing stayed steady, the heat and threat of fire threatened to erode her confidence. Hard-won, on-the-edge of collapse confidence. She knew outside this mask lay certain death. The fire gobbled up oxygen, it’s greedy lungs sucking up everything life-giving. Only her bunker gear—turnout coat, helmet, pants, boots and gloves protected the rest of her.

As she exited the burning building at a run, along with the fire crew, she could almost hear the fire’s lion-like sound chasing her. They’d barely escaped at a dead run when the walls came down.

 

Cover Reveal! Winterfall (Wasteland Trilogy #3)

I’m happy to introduce the cover for Winterfall, the third book in my Wasteland Trilogy. Winterfall comes out June 15, 2015. (There will be a novella called Nightfall featuring a recurring character coming out later this year).

* *

A firefighter and a former soldier have survived an apocalypse, but there is still danger lurking in the winter light…

Firefighter Juliet Van Pelt’s strength comes from previous adversity, but there’s an arsonist in town who wants to crank up the heat. When threatening letters target her, she turns to the one man she has never forgotten.

Former Army Ranger and sniper Mark O’Day can’t forget the woman he met months ago when their city was in chaos and they shared a dangerous moment. When opportunity brings her into his life again and danger threatens, he knows there is no alternative but to keep her close and never let her go.

* *

Next week I’ll have an excerpt to tantalize you! In the meantime, feast your eyes.

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Post Apocalyptic Romance? Reaching For The Dark Side.

I’ll totally admit it. I’m a writer who reaches for the dark side. A lot. What this means is that my imagination delights in creating stories about the bad things that can happen and therefore I write suspense and paranormal elements in quite a few of my stories. How do people react when faced with an event such as a super volcano eruption? How do they react when the dark side of society comes out to play? Take a peek of this excerpt from Darkfall (The Wasteland Trilogy #2). Beware, salty language ahead. Oh, and there’s that whole hot attraction between the hero and heroine thing, too.

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A woman determined not to repeat the past and a former SAS soldier reunite to survive in a challenging new world forged by an apocalypse no one could stop.

Penny Graham once fought her powerful attraction to Special Air Service soldier Ian MacDaniel. But when their undeniable attraction was condemned by her father, they parted ways. Apocalypse pushes people to violence, and when she turns to her father for help, Ian volunteers to rescue her. Forced to fight for survival while trapped in a bunker, they can’t ignore the desire still sizzling between them.

* *

Penny rushed into the shelter and turned in time for Ian to follow her inside, slam the door and seal it. The locking mechanism twirled in Ian’s hands as he made certain the men charging couldn’t enter. She tripped backward and landed butt first on the concrete floor. Her gun went spinning across the floor. She didn’t move as she stared up at the monitor and the men outside. Ian’s back stayed toward her as he also watched the crowd.

“Crap, they’re more of them than the last time.” She almost gagged on the words. Fear seized her throat, and she took in a half-choked breath.

Ian was breathing hard, his shoulders heaving. “Fuck.” He growled his next words. “Fucking hell.”

Behind the heavy door the shouts of enraged people sounded minimal.

“Ian–” She saw red spreading over the back of his right shoulder. A small stain but growing steadily. She scrambled for her weapon and launched to her feet as her heart banged in her chest. She put the weapon on a small table. “You’re hit.”

He turned away from the monitor and toward her. “What?”

She rushed up to him to check out his wound. “Your right shoulder. You’ve been shot.”

She tried to see around the flak vest. A tiny tear in the turtleneck shirt showed a small pool of blood.

He shrugged, winced, and turned back to the door. “This is a cliché, but it’s only a flesh wound.”

“Let me–”

More pounding on the door made her jump and step back. Dammit, those assholes would not debilitate her.

She moved to the cabinet above the bed to retrieve a first aid kit. She tossed the kit on the bed as the pounding stopped and voices faded. Her heart still thundered in her chest.

“Motherfuckers,” he whispered under his breath.

Despite the fear she managed a small smile. He’d always cursed too much, even in front of her. She didn’t mind it, because she tended to curse too often as well–she couldn’t deride him when she didn’t always control her potty mouth.

After they’d stood there some time, the monitor showed the crowd had left the basement. He turned toward her. His taut strength was evident as he moved–all of it made her feel safe while thoroughly unnerving her in other ways.

Ian’s expression blazed with slow-simmering anger. “Shit. I should have gotten you out of here instead of fucking around.”

“You didn’t know they’d come back.”

“My assault rifle is in the SUV. Damn it! What a stupid, fuckwit thing to do.” He hissed the curse, but she didn’t flinch. She knew his piss and vinegar belonged with the creeps outside and not towards her.

She gestured at his shoulder. “Let me look at the flesh wound.”

He glanced down at his right shoulder again and shrugged. He winced, and at first she thought he wouldn’t oblige. Instead he stripped off his flak/utility vest and dropped it on the floor.

“It’s hardly worth bothering with,” he said.

“Yeah, yeah.” She planted her hands on her hips and tried for humor. “Big bad SAS man. Don’t tell me. You’ve had all your limbs shot off at one time or the other, and you’re now like the Universal Soldier with all your parts sewn back on.”

For a second his mouth dropped open, pure incredulousness on his face. Then he cracked a smile that almost destroyed her ability to breathe. The grin, though small and a bit lopsided, made his eyes brighten with stirring warmth. He’d never smiled much–the damn man took strong and silent to the extreme. Always watching, always keeping his back to the wall, at least metaphorically speaking.

And then there was his freaking body. Ian brought new meaning to the word ripped.

The turtleneck molded to his broad shoulders, bulging biceps, and hard pecs in sinful ways she couldn’t ignore even after what they’d just experienced. He drew the turtleneck over his head as he walked to the bench and sat down at an angle so she could reach his shoulder. She sucked in a breath. She’d never seen his naked torso before, but she’d fantasized about it enough times. Holy crap. Her imagination had nothing on reality. As she tended to the wound, she ogled him. Before he’d turned his back, she’d spied an eyeful of russet hair sprinkled lightly over hard pectorals, a six-pack and down into the waistband of his pants. Muscles bunched and released in his shoulders as she dabbed antiseptic on the wound.

“You’re right.” She cleared her throat as her voice almost squeaked. “This isn’t bad. It’s not even bleeding anymore. Definitely a scratch.”

He grunted. One of those male sounds which could be easily construed as agreement or mockery. She drew in a deep breath, not wanting to think of what could have happened if the shooter had better aim. The thought of potent, totally alive Ian being killed or seriously injured sent a shudder of pain through her she didn’t want to acknowledge. She patched him quickly, and when she closed the first aid kit, he turned straight on the bench to look at her. He scrunched the turtleneck in his fist, and her gaze snagged on his big hands. A heatwave slammed through her when she remembered the one and only time those hands had threatened to send her over the edge with pleasure. God, I’m nuts. Why the hell am I responding to him like an infatuated teenage girl? Especially when danger lurks right outside the door?

“Something wrong?” His voice was craggy as a cliff.

Penny licked her lips, and her mouth felt so parched she thought she might choke. She walked to the storage cabinet in one corner and opened it. “Water?”

“Yeah.”

“Catch.” She tossed a bottle at him. He caught it with ease.

He stayed on the bench, and damn him but she wished he’d put on the turtleneck. Her gaze kept straying to yards of hot male muscles. He opened the bottle and took a swig, then wiped his mouth on his forearm.

* *

Check out my Darkfall page for more information and order links!

Danger, Adventure & Romance: Blackout On Sale For 99 Cents

 

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Love a novel with danger, adventure, paranormal elements and hot romance? Blackout is on sale at these outlets for 99 cents.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Smashwords

Here’s a hot excerpt you’ve never seen before! In this scene the hero and heroine have just survived a very dangerous confrontation with some nasty characters.

* *

Cassie’s surprise at what Penny had revealed was overtaken by another emotion. Several emotions, in fact. Penny’s gaze on Griff was more than admiring. It was calculating. Suddenly Cassie didn’t trust the woman for one second longer. An impression flew at her—this woman wanted Griff for her own. Shocked, Cassie didn’t speak. Then, to her shame, she felt trembling start in her limbs. She didn’t dare lose control. She wouldn’t lose it in front of anyone.

“Excuse me,” Cassie said as she turned and made her way up the stairs.

She walked as fast as her legs would carry her, half expecting for Griff to run after her. When he didn’t, she wasn’t sure how to feel. She hurried toward the stairs and took them quickly, trotting up them until she’d reached her room. She pushed open the door and that’s when she heard footsteps behind her. Griff had followed.

“Cassie! Hold up.”

She opened the door and went inside. He caught the door before it slammed, then shoved it closed behind him. He watched her for a second, uncertainty crossing his eyes for a few seconds.

“Get out,” she said, shaking to the very core.

He stood in her room with that automatic weapon slung over his shoulder, his tall body tense, his eyes hard and unforgiving. Alongside the anger seething within her were other emotions she dare not acknowledge or reveal. Heat sprung up along her skin and replaced the cold, and her aches and pains faded to the background under new physical sensations. The man in front of her had protected her, but she hated that he had to. That the world she lived in had cruel, ugly men like the one who’d assaulted her. That she’d done such a poor job of protecting herself.

“Cassie—”

“Go ahead and get it over with.”

“What?”

“The lecture. Clearly that’s what you had in mind when you followed me up here.”

“You’re right. I did. You could have been killed. God only knows what would have happened if I hadn’t come back and seen what was happening.”

He put the automatic weapon down on the table, then drew off his coat and holster and placed both on a chair next to the couch. He stalked toward her, and she stiffened. All those emotions steaming through her threatened to boil over. Tears stung her eyes. Tangled emotions battled for supremacy inside her. She wanted to yell at him for resembling those Neanderthals in any way.

“From now on I need you to do what I tell you,” he said. “Things are getting dicey out there. There was damn near a riot at the sheriff’s department. People are looking for help and they’re starting to blame others. Look for scapegoats. They aren’t pulling together. At least not the ones who made a run on the cops, anyway.”

She closed her eyes and drew a shuddering breath. “Why am I not surprised?”

“And why didn’t you do what I told you and stay in the hotel?”

Pissed, she took a step forward that practically put her in his face.

She poked his chest with her index finger, frustration pouring forth. “God, you’re such a man. I tried to get Penny to stay inside the hotel, but she saw those two goons and went outside. I wasn’t going to lock her out. I didn’t know she knew those idiots.”

“Still—”

“Still what? Survival of the fittest? I wasn’t going to leave her alone out there.”

He went silent, eyeballing her with unnerving intensity. If he’d been a stranger she’d have been very afraid of him. Instead she was pissed.

“Your woman, eh?” she said. “What the hell was that all about?”

“Creeps like that need to hear that kind of shit.”

“They could have killed you.”

“Hey.” His voice softened. “It’s all right.”

“No it isn’t—” She choked on her own words. She drew in a harsh breath. “You can’t order me around like one of your military underlings.”

“Yeah.” He said in a clipped tone. “But I’m more familiar with what can happen in situations like this. You’ve got to trust me.”

Her breath came faster as he closed the gap between them. Something primal and raw entered his eyes.

“Don’t order me around like that again,” she said in defense, unable to reason with him or herself why this was so important to say. “I’ve survived things you know nothing about.”

“Oh?” His eyes softened the slightest bit, a hint of compassion. “Have you battled assholes like the one that just tried to hurt you? Who would have done a lot worse if he got a chance?”

“Not exactly. But I won’t accept any man claiming he knows what is better for me than I know myself.”

“If it’ll save your life, I’ll do it again.” His voice was edgy, commanding.

“And Penny is up to something. Did you see how she acted with you?” Cassie’s voice went slightly higher. “Oh, Griff. My hero.”

He grunted, and for a half a moment humor mixed with a hot look in his eyes. “You jealous?”

A hot flush filled her face. She wouldn’t answer that question. “Anything could have happened. All you had was that pea shooter and that creep had an automatic weapon.”

“I wasn’t lying to him. I could have got a shot off and killed him.”

“Do you think I give a damn about that?” On impulse she grabbed the front of his shirt and twisted, half in anger and half in desperation. He must understand.

“Were you worried about me?” His voice went liquid with heat, a husky sound that sent tendrils of arousal spiraling all through her.

Shocked at the sensation, she couldn’t speak.

“Cassie, you may be mad as hell at me.” Griff slipped his hand around the back of her neck. “You can hate my guts. But I’m honest with you. They planned on taking you with them. Do you know how scared shitless I was when I saw that guy lying on top of you?”

Warmth coiled in her loins, the heat threatening to start a fire from the inside out. She was shaking with it. “Griff…”

His mouth came down on hers for one tender, sweet kiss. He whispered against her mouth. “You gotta trust me.”

“Why should I?”

“Why don’t you?” His eyes were blazing now as he drew her against every inch of his incredibly hard body. “What’s eating you up inside? What your ex did to you? I’d die before I ever hurt you, Cassie. I’m not your ex. I’m not those assholes that tried to hurt you. I swear it.”

He kissed her again, and all the emotions inside her exploded into action.

Disaster Movie Junkie and Disaster Novels

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I’ll admit it. I’m an unrepentant disaster movie junkie. I even like a few of the ones most people hate, and I dislike one in particular that a few other people like. Okay, let me translate that. One fairly popular disaster flick I didn’t like was Deep Impact. I did like Astroid which was a two night mini series on television several years back. I even enjoyed the movie 2012 in a crazy, messed up way. Although I liked Roland Emmerich’s movie where hell freezes over more than 2012 because at least the acting was very good.

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I lump disaster movies together with creatures-are-gonna-eat-us type of movies. So I’m looking forward to San Andreas which comes out in May and the new Jurassic Park movie which I think comes out in June. I’m really looking forward to Mad Max: Fury Road.

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With that mayhem and disaster, I like writing about those situations myself. I wrote about the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire in Love From The Ashes. I wrote about a super volcano disaster in my recent Wasteland Trilogy books (Ashfall, Darkfall, Winterfall and a companion novella Nightfall. Winterfall and Nightfall aren’t out yet). The Spanish Flu was the disaster in the second book of my Asylum Trilogy (Shadows Rise). A devastating earthquake in Colorado is featured in my firefighter story Meltdown. In Blackout a solar flare knocks out the grid and seriously messes up the world. And I have at least two more stories in the works based on real disasters that I’m working on now. Maybe they should name me “disaster book queen.” No? All right. Well, I tried.

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Reincarnation, Celtic Romance, Forevermore and Get Lucky: Seven Steamy Romances

Do you believe in reincarnation? Way back in the day, starting when I was only a young girl, I dreamed about a place high on a hill. I was an adult in the dream, and the old stone place and green grass around me felt familiar. Many ancient gravestones, including Celtic crosses, surrounded me. I had a camera and took photos. This dream returned many times over the years into my early adulthood. In 1983 I visited Ireland for the first time. When I stood at the Rock of Cashel I realized with a shock that I was standing in the very place I’d dreamed about and I was taking photos. My dream had come true. I never had the dream again.

This event inspired a story set in Scotland many years later that I called Forevermore. Forevermore is featured right now in the box set Get Lucky: Seven Steamy Romances. Here’s a tidbit to excite your appetite.

 

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Sometimes one lifetime is not enough…

American Mae Sutton travels to Scotland to investigate tormenting dreams that have plagued her since childhood. Once in the shadowy, misty land, she discovers a brooding Highlander—and a secret that threatens her very existence.

A dark castle ruin haunts her nightmares…

Mae discovers Moor Castle is the same ruin in her nightmares, and knows she must learn why she’s been drawn to Scotland and the crumbling castle that whispers her name. She experiences an intense and immediate attraction to Aidan Ramsay, conservator of the evil castle. She’s shocked to find out she is the spitting image of a Ramsay ancestor, and that maybe her nightmares are past-life memories.

Mae and Aidan have lived before, and the dark legacy that destroyed them once, may destroy them again…

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As I stared at the pile of stones high on the hill, familiarity tickled at my memories. I’d seen Moor Castle as an eighteen-year-old exchange student nine years ago. More than once I’d been drawn to the castle, but something always held me back.

Fear.

Fear of something primitive and raw. Wounding and evil.

Now I had to take that first step toward showing myself that my dreams remained unreal. That I had made up horrible images in my mind that had no basis in fact.

I got out of the car and pulled my trench coat close about me. A compulsion drew me a few steps forward. Soon I’d discover the cold walls of Moor Castle held nothing baneful. Something stronger than apprehension, though, stopped me again.

Dread.

Why had this place haunted my dreams for so many years? Somehow, somewhere, there had to be a reason, a meaning behind the demons that possessed my nights.

I’d taken a leave of absence from my job to investigate Moor Castle for myself. Maybe I’d find peace exploring this dilapidated ruin.

I forced myself up the hill. Daylight faded as rain fell like an icy blanket.

I pressed on until I reached the top, a wide mesa somewhat naked and barren, the scraggly trees surrounding it in need of tending to bring them back to life.

I noticed how light seemed to disappear into the arched entrance without means of escape. Suddenly the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Taking a deep breath, I pressed on, even though the trek up the steep hill had quickened my pulse. Or was that fear?

When the huge arch loomed above my head, cold penetrated my sweater, oozing into my bones with a chill, arctic and numbing. Trembling, I peered into the darkness, and as the rain lessened, shafts of weak light speared from a hole in the roof high above.

I proceeded. Up above, in the crumbling stonework, a fluttering sound echoed. I thought of the creatures of nightmares, flying on wings and snatching me away to dark lairs. A screech echoed all around me and I whirled, my apprehension escalating. Seconds later, a large black bird gave flight, turning away from the castle walls and sailing into the air until it looked like a tiny dark dot against the sky.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a bird, not a bat…or…” I whispered.

I glanced around me nervously. Yeah, right. Big, brave Mae. What would Aunt Ethelfreda think of me now? I could see her crinkled brow and piercing blue eyes condemning me for cowardice. Since I was three and Aunt Ethelfreda had adopted me after my parents had died in a car accident, I’d endured her belief that I somehow wasn’t “worthy.” I fell short, continually, in her estimation. I fought back frequently, though my ego took a nasty blow. Many dents still remained. Deep inside I hated myself for trembling like a frightened pup. A litany ran in my head, the same thing unkind children had yelled at me in grade school: Scaredy cat, scaredy cat. Mae is a scaredy cat!

I shoved aside disturbing childhood memories. Those children weren’t here now. My aunt wasn’t here now. In some ways this journey to Scotland proved those children and my aunt wrong. I could and would conquer these fears. Strength filled my limbs as I glanced around at the haunting beauty of the castle.

I hadn’t gone far into the grand foyer when I knew someone watched me.

I turned, my heart thumping with renewed alertness.

The man stood several yards away, almost hidden in a shadowy doorway. He stood with arms at his side and feet planted apart. His white poet shirt opened at the throat, giving me an enticing view of muscled chest sprinkled with dark hair. Snug black breeches were tucked into tall black boots and molded his legs. His wide mouth firmed into a tight line. A brisk wind blasted through his cascade of long, wavy black hair. Welded to the spot, I stared with unabashed curiosity at the strong planes of his face.

I took a breath, ready to call out to him in greeting. But I didn’t have a chance because suddenly he looked straight at me. His gaze turned sultry, hot, and welcoming. The moment drew out, long and surreal.

Behind me a crack like a gunshot sent me spinning around, my heart leaping. I threw myself sideways as a large stone missed me by inches, bouncing away to break into smaller pieces. My heart pounded as I looked back to the mysterious man. He’d disappeared.

 

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You can find Get Lucky: Seven Steamy Romances for 99 cents for a limited time at the following retailers:

Amazon—>http://amzn.to/1zUoU6U

B&N—>http://bit.ly/1vKVg4B

Kobo—>http://bit.ly/1KWW3AT


iTunes—>http://bit.ly/1yCohKg

 

Post Apoc Anyone? Darkfall by Denise A. Agnew

Hot Scottish former SAS soldier? Why not? Monday the second story in my Wasteland Trilogy (Darkfall) came out, and today I’m sharing an excerpt sure to tantalize you. Enjoy!

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A woman determined not to repeat the past and a former SAS soldier reunite to survive in a challenging new world forged by an apocalypse no one could stop.

Penny Graham once fought her powerful attraction to Special Air Service soldier Ian MacDaniel. But when their undeniable attraction was condemned by her father, they parted ways. Apocalypse pushes people to violence, and when she turns to her father for help, Ian volunteers to rescue her. Forced to fight for survival while trapped ina bunker, they can’t ignore the desire still sizzling between them.

* *

A banging noise startled her. Seconds later she heard footsteps coming down the basement stairs. At least she thought she did. She grabbed her gun as every muscle in her body stiffened in readiness for a fight. She stuffed her cell phone in the right back pocket of her jeans. They’re back.

Someone pounded on the door. She gasped and covered her mouth. After a few seconds, another knock and then the buzzer went off. She ran to the door and switched on the small video monitor above the door. The black and white picture showed her a clear picture of a man dressed in khaki cargo pants, flak vest over a black turtleneck, his head covered by a black baseball cap, a pistol of some kind in his left hand. Familiarity stirred and then he lifted his face and glared right at the hidden camera that allowed her to see him on the monitor.

Oh, my God.

In a million years she never expected to see him again. Certainly not here and now.

He had to know she could see him.

“Penny! Penny, are you in there?” he asked.

His voice was unmistakable–she’d never forget those rugged notes of Scotland that teased the ears with deep tones and ragged edges. He’d lived in the United States enough years now that he’d picked up many American expressions and even that sexy, rough accent wasn’t as harsh as it had been when she’d first met him.
Ian. Ian MacDaniel.

Gorgeous eyes–those long-lashed gray eyes. Strawberry blond hair cut military short, and a chiseled jawline. He stood six feet four inches tall, but most women wouldn’t look at him and immediately think hot. They’d see tall, powerful and intimidating. He scowled often, and right now he bristled with energy that screamed combat-ready. But she’d seen another side of him, if only for a few moments one summer three years ago, and it had blown her away. Right before Dad canned any possibility that she’d get the chance to know the tall Scot on a deeper, far more intimate level.

Another reaction punched her. Relief. Staggering relief. At one time she thought she’d never wanted to see him again. Rejection could do that to a person. What a difference a natural disaster and sheer desperation made.

She wrestled with the door locks, then pulled the large door open on soundless, oiled hinges. Ian stood with awareness, as if he was anticipating conflict. His gaze snagged on her, relief clearing his stern expression. His attention darted behind her, then returned to her face. He stepped forward, and for a few seconds she thought he’d embrace her. She ached inside with a need for reassuring human touch. Yes, that would feel incredible. But she didn’t move closer. She felt as if they were in suspended animation.

“Ian, what the hell are you doing here?” she asked instead of flinging herself into his arms.

One corner of his mouth tipped upward. “Good to see you, too.”

She couldn’t think straight, and that bothered her. She drew in a slow breath but before she could apologize for her gruff question, his expression eased into concern. He holstered his sidearm.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

She shook her head but said the opposite. “I’m fine. How did you know I was here?”

One of his tawny eyebrows lifted. “I work for Sentry Security now. Your father didn’t tell you?”

Surprise hit her like a bullet between the eyes. “What? No. He didn’t.”

Ian’s customary scowl grew deeper. She sensed he wanted to say more but didn’t. On the other hand, it would be like her father to skip telling her he’d rehired Ian. He wouldn’t consider business something she’d want to hear, and in reality she didn’t want to know about his day-to-day business dealings. She didn’t want to hear much from him about anything. She felt resentment begin to stir, but shoved it down until it hummed low in the background.

“Dad sent you to help me?” she asked.

He smiled, and that rare expression turned his brutal-looking face to gorgeous in a heartbeat. “Bloody astonishing, isn’t it?”

Guest Author: Titania Ladley & Risque Business

Today I’d love to welcome author Titania Ladley. Titania and I have known each other a long time. Like a long, long time. Here’s an excerpt from her story in the Get Lucky: Seven Steamy Romances. Warning: Explicit content ahead.

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Curvy Amy MacGowan has gained enough weight to tip the scale opposite a pot of gold. But she lives out her fantasies behind the headset of her 900 phone-sex company, Risqué Business.
Just her luck, her hot ex-lover Gabe Rizzuto buys the café next door. Ah, just grand. Sooner or later, he’s going to notice she’s “bloomed,” and knowing his shenanigans, Amy’s in for some risky business.

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Excerpt:

Proud of her self-discipline, she dragged her gaze up to meet his. “Let go o’ me. Now.”
He tightened his hold and slid an arm around her waist. The move brought her up so that her feet barely dangled off the floor. The bulge in his pants pressed along her pubic bone. “Somehow, I don’t think you mean that.”
How could she think? How could she keep up her firm discipline with this delicious temptation? Her vision blurred and her voice came out raspy and weak. “Somehow, I think ye’re not dealin’ with a full shillin’.”
He threw his head back and chuckled a deep, resonant tone that echoed off the walls of her apartment. “You’re calling me crazy? Who touched who first?”
“Ye—” She snapped her jaw shut. “I s’pose I did. But it was a defensive touchin’ kind of poke. And that still doesna mean that I don’t mean—oh, never mind.”
He let go of her wrist and wrapped his other arm around her. Tightening his hold, he hitched her up and forced her legs apart. It resulted in her pussy being slammed against his hard rod. It nestled into the V of her soft, moist flesh. Fire shot through her system in a rush of lava. Unable to resist—and, of course, to keep herself from falling—she locked her ankles behind him and slid her arms hesitantly around his neck.
“We canna…I canna do this.” How was he holding her up so easily? She rubbed the bulging muscles of his shoulders. O’ course. He’d grown stronger, packed on muscle in the military, apparently. Meanwhile, she’d packed on pounds of fat.
He buried his face in the crook of her neck and inhaled. “Amelia, Amelia, baby…” He rained long, sucking kisses up her neck.
She couldn’t resist. Her head tipped to the side and she tangled her fingers in the thickness of his hair. Oh, my God, so soft. She inhaled and it smelled of manly shampoo.
Shimmers of stars swam before her vision. Her eyelids fluttered shut then open again. “Oh…wow.” She gulped.
Mmm, okay, all right. She would allow herself just a sample to refresh her memory before she kicked him out on his nice arse.
“Ah…you’re telling me. Wow’s right.” He panted, nipped his teeth along her chin. “Ever since I got my first look at the new and grown-up you today…I’ve been hard as granite. I don’t know what all you did with yourself, going from tomboy to babe in six years’ time, but goddamn it, I’ve got to have you.”
Rationale and self-discipline shattered into tiny pieces in her brain. She couldn’t think, couldn’t reason, not with his hands all over her butt and grinding her against his erection. Not after hearing that arrogant yet heart-stopping admission.
He wanted her?
Like this?
All chubby and heavy?
Japers, the whiskey she smelled on his breath must be making his brain as addled and thick as a brick.
Still, wetness soaked through her panties and pajama pants, moistening his jeans. Her nipples tightened into pebbles of aching need. As if the thought of them was all it took, he raced his lips down the column of her neck and shoved up her shirt. Her breasts bounced free, exposed to his hot, probing gaze. Her first instinct was to yank the shirt back down to cover her fullness and a belly that was surly rounder than any he’d seen. But shivers of want prickled her skin. Their breathing escalated into a duet of sudden animal-like gasps. He spun and stumbled forward, distracting her from her shame. Her back crashed into the brick wall. Pain wrapped sensuously and wickedly with pleasure, tormented her body.
“Yes. No…oh, Jaysus…”
He planted his feet apart and hitched her up higher. Pictures tumbled from the wall and clattered onto the hardwood floor.
She choked on a scream when he took her nipple into his mouth. He cupped and lifted the breast and drew it in between his teeth to suck. Propping her against the wall with the pressure of his pelvis, his hand was now free to devastate and explore. His other hand kneaded her left breast. He rolled the nipple between his thumb and index finger. Liquid heat gathered there and slowly flooded her womb.
She moaned, basking in carnal heaven. “It’s…’tis been so long. So long. I need…”
He reached around and unhooked her legs so that her feet hit the floor. “I know exactly what you need, darling, and I’m going to give it to you.” He curled his hand into her pajama pants and slid them down until they pooled around her ankles. Cool air enveloped her, drying the moisture that had built up between her thighs. But each move he made, each word he spoke, the dampness replenished itself.
“Holy God. Damn, but you’ve bloomed. Step out of the pants so I can see all of you,” he ordered.
Bloomed?
Did he mean that in a good or a bad way?
If he meant it in a good way, would he come to his senses once he’d gotten his fill of her and see her for what she really was?
Ugly? Overweight? Only the boss of all those beautiful women because she owned the business?
It wouldn’t be the first time a man had used her, only to be disgusted by her once he got what he wanted.
Sex.
Still, to hear his words of praise—even if it would be just this once—made her blood race with lust. In a sexual fog, she hesitated, stepped out of one leg, paused again, stepped out of the other one.
Cool air brushed her bare flesh. She fought the urge to cover her juncture, opting instead to dig down into herself and drag up some bravery.
He unfastened his jeans and tore them off.
She couldn’t help eyeing his rod. It jutted up long, powerful, and thick from a nest of dark-brown curls. Amy panted, certain she would faint any second from excitement. His body was absolutely perfect, even more so than it had been back then. She’d seen him naked six years ago, and she’d seen him in work clothes today. Then tonight, standing on her doorstep in nothing but jeans, a bare chest, and bed-ruffled hair. At first sight, it had nearly rendered her speechless and took her breath from her lungs.
But this…Lord, he was nothing short of flawlessness.
His eyes snared hers in a moment of silent obsession, the unusual steely shade of them gleaming by the light of the lone lamp she had lit in the room. She knew then the ogre of earlier today was gone for the time being. In a matter of a few moments’ time, he’d gone from concerned neighbor to a sex-crazed beast. The muscles at his jawline and across his shoulders tensed. He lowered his gaze and swept her with a smoldering stare.
Amy shuddered with a wave of desire, his eyes raking her, studying every naked curve and plane.
Soon. She had to stop these shenanigans very soon before it was too late, but first, just a kiss. Or two…
Gabe planted his hands against the wall on either side of her head and leaned in toward her. “You’re absolutely beautiful.”
“Ye…” She swallowed and scanned his body, downward and back up again. “Ye’re very…pleasin’ to look at, as well. B-but, I’m not goin’ to be as good as ye think I… I-I canna do this any—”
“Shh.” He pressed a finger on her lips. “You can, Amelia. I know we’ve got issues, and I know we’ve got a couple of exes in our closets, but I think we could both use this. Don’t you?”
The way you used me that night in college?
He reached up and pulled the ponytail holder from her hair. The thickness tumbled around her shoulders and swished down her back. The sensual move brought on by someone other than herself made her knees go weak and her skin prickle with desire. He threaded his fingers through the strands, combing and scrutinizing them as if they were liquid gold in his hands. Just the way he had back then…
She leaned into the wall, pressing her bare back against the cool, rough surface. “I…yes, I have an ex. But if ye want to ruin the moment, go ahead and keep talkin’ about him…and yers.”
“Uh-uh. Not a chance. Right now, it’s just you and me, babe. No exes, no leases, no packing boxes or the sound of annoying doorbells. Just you—” he slid his hand down over her hip and found her crux “—and me.”
At the same moment he delved her sensitive V, his mouth came down on hers in a deadly swoop. It ravaged her beyond reason. He tasted of hot whiskey coated with raw lust, just like she remembered. Only this time, it was more mature, more deadly, way more skilled.
His fingers played her like a harp, strumming her to a torturous tautness then letting go before exploring a new note. She gasped against his mouth, taking in his tongue, fighting against it with her own. His right hand stabbed into the loose hair at the nape of her neck while he reached down with the other to hitch her back up and around his hips. Her legs clamped around him in a desperation that surprised even her. He held her mouth to his, destroying her resolve while his free hand lifted and guided her wetness to him.
She’d gotten her kiss. She must stop this now.
He probed her entrance, using his hand to guide it there, then he tore his mouth from hers. “Tell me you want this.”
Want? Could there be a better word? Like need, require, must have? Crave? But she couldn’t talk. She could only moan and wiggle, trying frantically to get him inside her while her mind’s scolding protests turned to weak, mushy submission somewhere in the back of her addled head.
“Tell me you want it. Tell me you want me.” His hands massaged her rear, his cock poised at her entrance. Her system backfired with carnal need. “Before I go any further, I gotta hear you say it.”
Stop, Amy. Stop this now. Ye’re off yer nut. He’s usin’ ye. He’ll dump ye and sample Elise next, or Stacy, Fawn, Carrie, or Celine. Probably all of them, ye idiot. And then he’ll kick ye out o’ yer apartment and yer office downstairs.
“Mmm.” She couldn’t suppress a whimper, chasing his mouth with hers, yet he managed to dodge her kiss.
Damn him, he was playing with her, teasing her, making her want him even more than before.

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You can find Get Lucky: Seven Steamy Romances at the following:

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Guest Authors: Megan J. Parker & Nathan Squires and Wolves in the Highlands

Please welcome Megan J. Parker and Nathan Squires to my blog today as they share their story Wolves in the Highlands. Their story is part of the Get Lucky: Seven Steamy Romances anthology.

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Wolves in the Highlands
Megan J. Parker & Nathan Squiers

Arriving at the entrance, Lachlan bent down to help her inside and, as she stepped deeper inside on a makeshift carpet of animal furs, she found the interior surprisingly warm. A moment later, Lachlan draped another fur over her exposed shoulders and ushered her further, where she spotted Munro, who had just finished tying a dark blue kilt around his waist before handing Lachlan a red one.

“Are ye hungry?” Munro asked as he turned to a dented pot that hung over a small, contained flame in the corner, giving the contents a stir from a metal ladle that hung beside it. “We have plenty of stew.”

“No thank you. I ate before I headed out,” she answered, not wanting to be any more of a burden. The intoxicating aroma, however, spoke for itself, and her empty stomach answered with a loud and demanding grumble.

“Already ate, aye? Munro chuckled and shook his head, “I like a woman with a hearty appetite. Let me feed you, lass.”

“I wouldn’t mind a small bowl,” she looked down shyly.

“‘Fraid a serving comes in only one size ‘round ‘ere,” Munro winked, ladling a portion into a large bowl, “an’ it ain’t ‘small.’”

He laughed, handing her the bowl before starting another for himself.

The sound of clothes rustling reminded her that Lachlan had just finished transforming outside the cave, and she tilted her head, eager to see what sort of man would emerge. She’d already seen a recognizable difference in the two’s personalities, and curiosity was beginning to get the better of her.

Then he stepped inside…

She nearly swooned as she was greeted with his appearance. His hair was pitch-black and disappeared behind his broad, scarred shoulders. Like them, his chest and stomach were littered in evidence of prior injuries; his body a chiseled tapestry of combat. Even his solemn face bared two scars—streaks of pink that cut through his otherwise tan skin—over his right eye and another above his lip. His eyes were the same shade of green as Munro’s, but seemed darkened by a natural fierceness behind them.
Munro, with his soft, gentle demeanor and pale-blond features reminded her of an angel food cake, while Lachlan’s darker complexion and sharp, almost bitter-looking features reminded her of dark chocolate. Catching sight of the red-plaid kilt tied around his waist, she remembered a batch of chocolate cherry bars she’d been offered at one of Erik’s meet-and-greet parties.

She hadn’t been able to keep her hands off of them.

As she hungrily devoured the delicious stew, she glanced back and forth between the two…

Already thinking about dessert.
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You can find Get Lucky: Seven Steamy Romances at:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iBooks