Archive for April, 2015

Just Say Yes To Creativity

Monday, April 27th, 2015

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It’s entirely possible that I said ALL of this in another blog not that long ago. My brain is a bit pickled from traveling. Got back from being out of town last week. 🙂

In my other hat as a creativity coach, I see the many slings and arrows (stealing from Shakespeare here) that creative people endure on a daily basis. Steven Pressfield, in his great book The War of Art, calls it resistance. A resistance formed by the mind that says, “Hey I can do the dishes and bow down to other outside influences before I write.” But there’s another way authors can make themselves nuts. Okay there are A LOT of other ways authors can make themselves nuts. One in particular is refusing to create what you want most to create.

Creativity. It asks you to perform, to write, to paint, to dance. It asks you to do something so few will ever do, because most people are afraid. Most people are slotted into a box early on, even if they once ventured, as a child, toward creativity.

I don’t know about you, but I think it is counterproductive to creativity to tell your muse to shut up. Yet writers do it every day. I so often see writers, who burn to create, sitting inside a box. The box that says, “This is the thing to write, because everyone else is writing it.” I also hear writers say, “I can’t wait to finish writing this book so I can start the book I really want to write.” Does this seem counter to creativity to you? To write something you don’t want to write? Perhaps there are writers who are happiest in a box. And this cool. They should stay and do what they want if most of the time they are happy. But there are far more writers who long to create that weird story. The one that nags at them in the middle of the night. If they’ve always been a romance author and this idea they have is for a mainstream book or a horror novel or some genre they’ve never tried before, they’ll shut themselves down. Or they’ll allow someone else to shut them down. It’s not practical to write that crazy idea. What will people think? It doesn’t matter what they think. Or what I think. It’s your creativity asking you to have the adventure. So have it and be joyful.

Many writers I know (including myself), will get wild ideas for a novel. Do I say, “Damn that sounds like a super complex story and it will be a lot of work and it’s way outside of what I’ve done before.” Yes, I say all of that. Then I notice how I feel about the book ideas. I get, really excited. I also get scared. Yet I know the complex ideas, the exciting and scary are usually amazingly fulfilling, the most gratifying stories I’ll ever write. So I write down the ideas and keep them in a future book file. Because my current work in progress is one of those wild ideas I had a long time ago. You know what? That’s exciting. That’s creativity working in me.

Keep your mind open to the possibilities and allow your creativity to say yes to things instead of no. It’s amazing how much happiness and joy there is to be found in just saying yes.

Creativity & Creative Truths

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

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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

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

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)

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

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.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

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.

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