Guest Post by Rachel McClellan

As part of the Unleashed blog tour, here’s a guest post by Rachel Mclellan! She has a bit of advice for you lot…

Why You Should Go Skydiving

If you are having a hard time in your life, maybe worried about work, stressed about kids, a feeling that you don’t know who you are anymore, or simply just tired of the same routine, then I highly recommend you go sky diving.

Wait!

Don’t freak out and immediately say “You’re insane!” Hear me out. My nonsense makes sense.

Here are some totally sane reasons why you should go:

It resets you. Jumping from a plane makes your heart pound, your pulse race, your breathing quicken until you think you can’t take it anymore. And then you land safely on the ground, feeling like you’ve been re-born.

It’s the ultimate confidence booster. Once you’ve accomplished this you’ll feel ready to take on any challenge.

Gets your mind off the stresses in your life. Leading up to the jump all you’ll be thinking about is jumping from a moving plane. You won’t be worrying about your raggedy, naggy boss, the bills you have to pay, your mouthy teen, the mounds of laundry and dishes, and on and on.

People will think twice about messing with you. Once others know you’ve gone sky diving, they will think twice about approaching you with anything negative because if you’re crazy enough to go sky diving, what else will you do?

Puts life into perspective. Flying at 18,000 feet in the air makes you see things in a different light. Whether it’s the thinner air or the fact that the earth is only a blur of browns and greens, prioritizing what’s important in your life becomes easy.

Lastly, I just want to say that there’s nothing like the threat of death to make you feel more alive. Go skydiving. I promise you won’t regret it.

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Day 5 – The Sullivans Tour

Day five of The Sullivans tour through Novel Publicity! This is the last day I’ll have anything to combine with an excerpt, so here it is: the third guest post and the excerpt for If You Were Mine. Remember the giveaway and today’s event!

 

Enjoy the following excerpt for IF YOU WERE MINE…

There were half a dozen girls in bikinis waiting in Zach’s garage, but the woman laughing with his dog in her arms, wearing a sweaty, long-sleeved T-shirt and muddy shorts, with a messy braid trailing down her back, put them all to shame.

He couldn’t think of a time he’d ever seen eyes that color, brown with so many flecks of gold that he couldn’t look away. And, Jesus, that mouth of hers, rosy and full, made a man want to do crazy things…like grab the puppy and kiss it all over its drooly, disgusting little face for bringing Heather here today.

He’d been pissed off at Gabe and Summer for dumping the dog on him for two weeks. Now he realized he should thank them, instead.

Unlike most women, however, he could tell Heather wanted nothing to do with him. Fortunately, her dog didn’t seem to have any of the same qualms, especially when he sniffed the glazed sugar on Zach’s fingers from the donut he’d been eating for breakfast.

“Hey, mutt,” Zach said, thinking fast, “I left the rest of my donut on the counter inside. You want it?”

The huge dog’s ears twitched as if he understood, but he didn’t move. Instead, he looked up at Heather for approval.

Clearly, she was gearing up to refuse. But, man, that huge dog could play up the puppy dog eyes when he wanted to. Zach was impressed. He’d have to remember how to do that in the future.

Her dog let out a low whine and Heather finally sighed and said, “Okay, fine. Go.” As she let go of his leash and the enormous dog loped off toward the garage, she followed him, still carrying Cuddles.

“I get that you weren’t prepared for a puppy, but I can’t leave her with you if you’re going to put her in a crate all day. She needs to understand how to stay with you so she doesn’t get hurt by something in the garage. You’re going to need to work on training her to understand your commands. And you’re going to have to do it without yelling at her.” She shot him a hard look. “Ever again.”

He would agree with whatever Heather said just as long as she stayed long enough for him to convince her to give him a chance. He couldn’t remember ever wanting a woman this bad, this fast.

“Hey Chase,” he told his brother, “I’ve got to call off the shoot.”

The models looked at his brother in confusion and Chase told them to take five before saying, “Chloe is going to have the baby any day now, and then I’m out of commission for a while. You sure you want to reschedule?”

Despite her ongoing protests that she was fine, Zach was already kneeling in front of Heather and gently wiping at the open skin on her knee with an antiseptic wipe from a nearby First Aid kit.

“I’ve got to clear my schedule for puppy training.”

“Seriously?” Heather blinked at him like he was driving on three wheels. “That’s why you’re sending everyone home? Isn’t your boss going to be mad?”

“Agnes didn’t mention my last name, did she?”

Her eyes widened with disbelief as she looked from him to the sign on the wall, then back again. “You’re the Sullivan in Sullivan Autos? This is your garage?”

“Don’t worry, I know cars a lot better than I know dogs.”

But he knew women best of all. And, he thought as he slid a Band-Aid strip over her left knee, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on more than Heather’s knees. Because even as he cleaned and bandaged her cuts, her skin was so warm, so soft, so responsive to his touch.

After he slid another Band-Aid strip over her silky smooth skin, he held out his arms. “Now that the shoot’s off, I’m all yours to train.”

Most women would have been pleased by the sensual undertones in his words, or would at least have blushed, but she simply glared at him with icy cool eyes.

Cuddles yawned and curled closer into her chest. What Zach wouldn’t do to be where the puppy was.

She shifted her legs out of his reach. “You can’t cancel your photo shoot. You’ll lose too much money.” She stood up and grabbed her dog’s leash again. “Atlas, it’s time to go.”

Damn it, she was going to leave. Panic gripped him, even though he’d only just met her, even though he could easily find another woman to have sex with. “Heather

She frowned as she looked down at where he was still kneeling on the cement floor. “Since you can’t keep Cuddles here while you’re” She paused to look at the models chain smoking and talking on their cell phones in the parking lot. “—working, I’ll take her to my office. When she wakes up, she can play with Atlas until you get there for our first session.”

She told him the address, then made a clicking sound that had her huge dog following her out of the garage with an adoring look on his furry face.

Zach understood exactly how the dog felt. One sign from her and he’d happily do the same thing.

His brother moved beside him and, together, they watched Heather leave, her long braid swinging behind her, her legs strong and tanned in her shorts.

“Who’s that?”

Zach grinned. “My new dog trainer.”

And, hopefully, a hell of a lot more than that real soon.

 

…Excerpt from IF YOU WERE MINE by Bella Andre ©2012.

Please enjoy this guest post by Bella Andre, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the contemporary romance series, The Sullivans. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards!

Why I Love Family-Based Romance Series

A guest post by Bella Andre

I love reading romance (I read one book a day when I can!), and one of my favorite tropes is the family-based series. I absolutely love Julia Quinn’s historical romance Bridgerton series and have loved taking that idea of the big family into present day with my Sullivan contemporary romance series.

What I love when I read – and what I want my readers to get from The Sullivans – is to feel like they’re a part of the family, and to know each of the characters so well that they can begin to know anticipate what the will start saying and doing at family gatherings. I love it when I’m reading a big family scene and I know, “Oh, this character is going to react like this” or “This character will hate this!” I love it even more when the characters surprise me and I learn new things about them.

One of the advantages of writing a series about a large family is that even as the hero and heroine are having conflict with each other, we can see them being loving towards their families, so we know the depth of love they’re capable of.

There are plenty of big family scenes in my Sullivan books for you to get to know each character, what they’re like, and how they feel one another. Just like a real family, every Sullivan has a special relationship with each of the others. Smith and Sophie are extra close, as are Marcus and Lori. Ryan and Zach are so close in age that they spent a lot of time together as kids and have a special bond as adults.


fall in love

The Sullivans are on tour with Novel Publicity. Follow along for your chance to win amazing prizes. We’ve got special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards. WOW!

You’ll also get introduced to this amazing contemporary romance series via excerpts as well as interviews with and guest posts from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Bella Andre. You’ll definitely want to learn more about the family that has captured the world’s heart.

All the info you need to join the fun and enter to win amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To Win the Prizes:

  1. Purchase any of the Sullivan ebooks by Bella Andre for just $4.99 (optional)
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity (go here)
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event (that’s where the HUGE prizes are)

About The Sullivans: In this sexy, emotional and funny contemporary romance series, each member of the Sullivan family will eventually find true love…usually where he or she least expects it.

Get the eBooks via Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, the iBookStore, or the Kobo Store.

Audiobooks are also available for the first five in the series (with more coming soon). Plus, keep an eye out for paperback editions coming from Harlequin Romance starting Summer 2013.

All Sullivan Covers

Bella Andre_1About the Author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Bella Andre has always been a writer. Songs came first, and then non-fiction books, but as soon as she started writing her first romance novel, she knew she’d found her perfect career. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly) about sizzling alpha heroes and the strong women they’ll love forever, nearly all of her novels have appeared on Top 10 lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo.

Her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. She has given the keynote speech at Book Expo America on her self-publishing success and has sold more than one million books.

If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100 year old log cabin in the Adirondacks.

Sullivans Tour – Day Two!

Good morning, folks! It’s the second day of the tour, as I’m sure you well know. Today I bring you an excerpt from From This Moment On and another guest post from Bella Andre! Enjoy, everyone, and have a wonderful day! Oh, and don’t forget about the giveaway; good luck!

Enjoy the following excerpt for FROM THIS MOMENT ON…

Marcus Sullivan was known for his patience. After helping to raise his seven siblings, he’d learned to wait out tantrums, fistfights, even tears.

But tonight, he was all out of patience.

He’d come to the club tonight to find a woman, to proposition her, to claim her for one no-holds-barred night, but he’d been watching the dancers for long enough to know that he wasn’t going to take a single one of them to bed. None of the women who’d walked in through the thick red curtain in the past thirty minutes had been contenders, either.

Until, suddenly, the curtain parted…and she walked in.

Marcus felt like a fist had slammed straight into his gut.

The woman was young, mid-twenties probably, and so beautiful it almost hurt to look at her. Her black leather dress left nothing to his imagination, fitting her like a second skin with wide cut-outs that ran down the side of her insane curves.

She was the one.

As she stood in the doorway and slowly scanned the crowd, every eye in the room was on her. She was magnetic, had that special something that made it impossible to pull your eyes away from her.

And then her eyes met his, illuminated by a beam of light in the dark room, and although Marcus hadn’t drunk nearly enough at Chase’s engagement party to be unsteady on his feet, one look at those clear blue eyes had him fighting for balance.

What was wrong with him?

He needed to remember, at all times, what tonight was about. Pleasure. Not emotion. Not a relationship. It was okay for certain parts of his body below the waist to react like a match had been lit from nothing more than looking at the woman. Everything else was off-limits. He wasn’t looking for a woman to respect.

And he definitely wasn’t going to fall in love.

The dangerous curves began to shift beneath the thin layer of leather as she moved straight toward him, never once breaking stride, even in impossibly high heels. Marcus couldn’t miss the challenge in her gaze, a look that asked if he was man enough to handle her.

He’d always liked his women tall and slim, not barely coming up to his chest like this one. A voice in his head told him she was way too young for him, young enough that if this were any other night, he’d walk away from her now.

But he wasn’t planning on walking away from whatever this woman offered. Not until first light.

And definitely not until he’d had his fill of those curves.

 

…Excerpt from FROM THIS MOMENT ON by Bella Andre ©2012.

Please enjoy this guest post by Bella Andre, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the contemporary romance series, The Sullivans. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards!

Alpha Heroes & Happily Ever Afters: The Perfect Combo

A guest post by Bella Andre

Alpha heroes are my favorite kind of hero: sexy, rugged, independent and take-charge. Yum!

Take Chase Sullivan, the hero of THE LOOK OF LOVE, the first book in my best-selling Sullivan series. He’s a jet-setting photographer, a mind-blowing lover, and is surrounded by gorgeous models all day long. But it isn’t until he meets Chloe Peterson on the side of a road during a rainstorm in the Napa Valley wine country that he falls in love.

One of my favorite things about an alpha hero falling in love is that all those alpha traits – his single-minded determination, his focus – are then devoted entirely to the woman of his dreams. Chloe’s been burned by men before, but Chase is determined to show her that he’s worth trusting. What follows is his relentlessly sexy pursuit of Chloe, because now that Chase has found love, he won’t accept anything less.

Each of the Sullivan heroes is an alpha in his own way. Marcus (FROM THIS MOMENT ON) is the de-facto family patriarch. He looks after the rest of his family and takes care of them. Gabe (CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE) is a take-charge firefighter. He rushes into danger to save lives – what’s not to love? Zach (IF YOU WERE MINE) is a handy, self-sufficient mechanic and businessman. In addition to being wealthy and successful, he’s useful with a wrench.

What’s hot is when those alpha traits are turned towards pursuing – and catching – the women of their dreams.

fall in love

The Sullivans are on tour with Novel Publicity. Follow along for your chance to win amazing prizes. We’ve got special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards. WOW!

You’ll also get introduced to this amazing contemporary romance series via excerpts as well as interviews with and guest posts from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Bella Andre. You’ll definitely want to learn more about the family that has captured the world’s heart.

All the info you need to join the fun and enter to win amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To Win the Prizes:

  1. Purchase any of the Sullivan ebooks by Bella Andre for just $4.99 (optional)
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity (go here)
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event (that’s where the HUGE prizes are)

About The Sullivans: In this sexy, emotional and funny contemporary romance series, each member of the Sullivan family will eventually find true love…usually where he or she least expects it.

Get the eBooks via Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, the iBookStore, or the Kobo Store.

Audiobooks are also available for the first five in the series (with more coming soon). Plus, keep an eye out for paperback editions coming from Harlequin Romance starting Summer 2013.

All Sullivan Covers

Bella Andre_1About the Author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Bella Andre has always been a writer. Songs came first, and then non-fiction books, but as soon as she started writing her first romance novel, she knew she’d found her perfect career. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly) about sizzling alpha heroes and the strong women they’ll love forever, nearly all of her novels have appeared on Top 10 lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo.

Her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. She has given the keynote speech at Book Expo America on her self-publishing success and has sold more than one million books.

If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100 year old log cabin in the Adirondacks.

Melissa McPhail Guest Post!

My final post for the Cephrael’s Hand tour! ❤ I’m so glad I still get to participate. And, of course, thanks to Melissa McPhail for allowing us this opportunity! Now, please enjoy this guest post my Melissa, and don’t forget about the giveaway!

My Take on Magic Systems

A guest post by Melissa McPhail

One of the most enticing aspects of writing fantasy is developing a magic system. The author’s magic system is inextricably woven into their world and contributes greatly to the reader’s vision of the world overall. The way a system is created either makes the world seem real or unreal, depending on how well the author has grounded the system with laws and limitations.

For example, scientists in our own world have defined laws—inertia, gravity, the periodic table—that describe the physical limitations and properties of energy. We don’t expect a stone to rise upwards when we throw it, but we might believe it could float if it were somehow made of helium. Likewise in a fantasy world, it’s important to codify the system with laws and rules (and to stick to those rules once established), to set boundaries for what the magician can and cannot do with magic, and to establish consequences for and ramifications of magical misuse.

This all shows that magic systems require significant thought and research on the author’s part to develop realistically. Yet for all of this, the manner in which one might design and describe the magical process is potentially limitless—there are as many magical systems as there are fantasy novels, and equally as many readers eager to pontificate on their pros and cons and/or to organize the systems into categories and types.

The one thing most magic systems have in common, however, is that they all handle energy. Whether that energy is spiritual, omnipotent, corporeal, or derives from physical objects or living things, the working of arcane arts surrounds the manipulation of energy.

I designed the magic in Cephrael’s Hand based on scientists’ existing understanding of electrical fields. The process of thought has been scientifically proven to produce energy, and human bodies are known to generate electrical fields. For the magic in Alorin, I proposed that all living things produce a metaphysical energy which is formless but which flows across the world in natural currents. This energy is called elae. This is the energy a magician of Alorin uses to produce arcane workings. How he does this is the creative part.

In Cephrael’s Hand, all things are formed of patterns. A single leaf derives its pattern from the larger pattern of its motherly oak. The snowflake harbors the pattern of a storm. Rivers form patterns that mimic the pattern of the world, and a living man harbors within him the pattern of his immortality. These inherent patterns collect and compel energy (elae) toward a certain purpose—growth, action, states of change.

To compel energy, a magician of Alorin (called a wielder) must learn to first identify and then usurp control over the pattern of a thing in order to command it. This is a laborious process requiring a lifetime of study.

Unlike wielders, the Adepts in Cephrael’s Hand are born with the ability to manipulate certain patterns. Adept Healers can see creation patterns (life patterns) and mend them where they’ve become frayed. Truthreaders can hear certain thoughts and read minds to see what a man saw versus what he says he saw. Nodefinders have the ability to move long distances with a single step by traveling on the pattern of the world. And Wildlings tap into a variant aspect of the lifeforce called elae to shapeshift or even skip through time, among other intriguing talents. The last type of Adept can sense the patterns of nonliving things—stone, air, water, fire, etc.—and use those patterns to compel the elements themselves.

Adepts are limited by nature of their birth—they can only inherently work one category of patterns. They are limited by their training, their inherent intelligence, talent and ability. And of course, like us in real life, they are limited by their own vision of their capabilities.

Above all of these limitations, we find Adepts limited by “Balance.” The concept of Balance draws from my studies of Eastern philosophies. It is the high governing force, the yen and yang, karma, cause and effect, fate. It’s as esoteric and arcane as these concepts imply. How far can the Balance be pushed in one direction without lashing back at the wielder? Which actions stretch it and which ones defy it? Balance is a complex and complicated subject—as difficult to define as our own world’s myriad competing religions. The only real agreement on the subject of Balance is that all magical workings stretch the Balance to some degree. Understanding how far they can be stretched without snapping is central to survival in the arcane arts.

The concept of Balance provides, well, the “balancing” force to all magical workings in Cephrael’s Hand and is central to its plot. You see, the entire realm of Alorin is out of Balance and magic is dying—and the Adept race dies along with it.

Cephrael Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Cephrael’s Hand eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Cephrael’s Hand for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About Cephrael’s Hand: Two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of a great battle, neither knowing the other is alive… A traitor works in exile while preparing for the disaster only he knows is coming… A race of beings from beyond the fringe of the universe begin unmaking the world from within… And all across the land, magic is dying.Cephrael’s Hand is the first novel in the award-winning series A Pattern of Shadow and Light.Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Visit Melissa on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.