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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Wheeler Series by Sara Butler Zalesky 💕 Series Tour & Gift Card Giveaway 💕 (Sports Romance)







Loren Mackenzie is at the top of her game, leading an elite team of pro cyclists in the Women’s World Tour in Europe. But for her, cycling was a way to escape, using the burn of her muscles to cleanse her mind.

After a change in the management of her team, Loren is brought back together with a man she once loved. His amorous attention resurrects the feelings she once had for him, but also how he tried to force her to sleep with him, and the sting of his hand on her cheek at her refusal.

When mishap puts her in the sights of an A-list actor, the flirtation quickly develops into something more for Loren, but the relationship exposes her to the tabloid media, dredging up the past she wanted to bury. It also reveals a dangerous rival who puts her chances in the World Championship in jeopardy.

Love and obsession collide in the first book of the Wheeler series, can Loren stand at the center of the storm, or will she lose the success she has worked so hard to achieve?


Writing (Un)Awkward Sex Scenes: A How-To Guide

I’ve been hesitant to give Wheeler to friends and family or even tell my coworkers I wrote a novel. Why? Like my protagonist, Loren Mackenzie, I only let people see what I want them to see; I like to keep my cards close to the vest. I’m a Scorpio, it’s who I am.
But, in very unScorpio fashion, I can’t write or talk about sex without blushing and I stumble over my words. I’m a visual thinker, meaning I can see what I want to describe in my mind clearly, like a photograph. While I don’t have an eidetic memory (I wish!), I can envision what something looks like or how a person moves and fairly accurately describe it. That includes sex.
Jennie Nash wrote a great article for the HuffPost blog called, 7 Rules for Writing Sex Scenes. She says, ‘Sex scenes are very difficult to write because everything else is stripped away and all you’ve got to work with are the characters and the emotions. There’s nowhere to hide. But that’s also what makes them so powerful.’
I couldn’t agree more, Jennie.
Set the Stage for Doing Good Work. There is nowhere to hide, in your head or in the place that you write. I write in my dining room/playroom/office, between 9pm and 2am most nights. It’s often the only time I am completely alone, other than my cats. My spouse and child are asleep and I can sit quietly and focus, listening to my Pandora stations. Music can inspire, especially sappy love songs. I even have a Spotify playlist aptly named: Graham’s Mixtape.
Focus on Dialogue. Do other people talk during sex? Uh, well, I don’t, really. (Is it hot in here?) With Loren and Graham’s first time, I wrote in a little more nervous excitement for her. For Graham, he has a sensuality to him already, and perhaps I wrote him a little over-the-top romantic. But that’s okay; it works for the character’s type. He’s not your typical leading man. While he’s tall, he doesn’t have the big muscles of Chris Evans or Chris Pratt. Think Colin Firth+David Tennant+Tom Hiddleston+Patrick Stewart = Graham Atherton.
Which leads to Characters Stay in Character and Watch the Tone. Graham is an actor and actors emote. He has a love of Shakespeare and uses the bard’s words to woo the lovely Loren. Nobody would have guessed – least of all those closest to her (and possibly herself) – that she was such a romantic. Same with speaking French. Somehow it works for them and sets the tone for the characters throughout the story.
Consider the difference between the internal and external action. I’ll be honest, I thought about scenes I’ve seen in films or read in books (with some of my own experiences) and envisioned every single action and reaction. I thought I had created some viable scenes until one of my Alpha readers, Debbie, said: “The build-up was great, loved that, but then you only come at me with a sentence and expect to finish it off? I’d be disappointed.”
After I got up off the floor from laughing, I began anew with more blushing and ear burning as I rewrote every single sex scene in my novel. There aren’t many, mind you, but heaven forbid they do it the same way twice. I had to come up with different situations and positions. Should they have oral? OMG Do I really have to write that? HOW do I write that? (Shudder)
Which leads to Remember, they’re just words. I’m new to this writing thing, and I find it very hard to separate myself from the feels and step out of the scene. I get snappy when interrupted because I am left feeling raw and exposed. It sucks even more because I know I’m reacting that way but I can’t stop it.
My intention has always been to write complex characters and true-to-life situations as best I could. Real people laugh and cry, flirt and kiss, yell and argue, dance and sing. They put themselves through enormous amounts of stress. They love and they have sex. There’s no way to get around it.
Which brings me to Jennie’s last comment: Prepare for the inevitable confrontation. At some point, someone will ask about what I wrote. Can I talk about sex without wanting to run and hide? My cheeks will be bright pink and I might not be able to look the person in the eye ever again.


Named an Official Selection 
2017 New Apple Awards
Cross-Genre Fiction


Loren was in the back garden at her house cleaning her training bike when her mobile rang in her back pocket. She looked at the caller ID and frowned. IDC is calling me? then pressed the answer icon.
“Hello?”
“Loren? It’s Pippa.” Her brows knotted and remained silent. “Pippa Davies, from media relations,” the woman continued.
She smacked her forehead. “Pippa! I’m so sorry! How are you? Are you still meeting up with us tomorrow night?”
“Oh, yes! Thank you ever so much for inviting me.” She paused. “Are you sitting down? I have some brilliant news!”
She raised a brow. “What’s up?”
“I received a terribly odd telephone call just a bit ago and I’m afraid it might be someone having a laugh with me, but I reckoned I’d inquire with you because I would be quite–.”
“Pippa…”
“I’m sorry. I’m just a bit excited.” She took a deep breath. “Loren, what happened this morning?”
She blinked. “Well, Ingrid and I had a bit of a slip on our training ride, and then I had a…” Her eyes narrowed. “What is this about?”
Pippa squeaked. “I received a telephone call from a rep from the RH Group.”
“The who?”
“Are you having a laugh? They represent some of the biggest names in Hollywood!”
“But what does that have to do with me?”
“Someone stopped to help you change your tire this morning, yes?”
Loren’s mouth popped open. “Uh, y-yes.”
“OH MY GOD!” Pippa screeched. “Is it true? Did you meet Graham Atherton this morning?”
She put her hand to her forehead. “Oh, my god.”
“They rang me to get your telephone number so Graham Atherton could ring you!”
“Oh, come on,” she scoffed. “It has to be a…” But I didn’t tell anyone. Her eyes grew wide and she lowered her voice. “Are you serious?”
“Yes!”
Loren sat down heavily on the damp earth. “What do I do?”
“I told him I would ring you and ask if I could relay your mobile number. May I?”
She covered her mouth with her hand for a second, glancing around the patio. “Uh, okay. He can call me if he wants.”
Pippa shrieked again. “I am so happy for you!”


  


"Atherton Leaves Her! Has the Actor’s Whirlwind Romance with the Women’s Pro Cyclist Run its Course?"
Loren Mackenzie knew the headline in The Sun was misleading, but the Elite Women’s World Champion cyclist still felt the sting. With her team’s season winding down, reuniting with boyfriend, Graham Atherton is tops on her holiday to-do list. But as rumors and innuendo swirl around the couple, secrets they have kept from each other shake their relationship to its foundation.
Her fragile confidence is tested when Loren discovers details of her relationship with Felix Lalonde were provided to the media. Still reeling from the headlines, a bittersweet reunion with someone she thought lost becomes the catalyst for reliving the fractured memories of her childhood. Resentment and betrayal only add fuel to the fire already burning in her heart.
All the while obsession and greed churn into a storm on the horizon, threatening Loren and those closest to her. When the tempest hits, what is uncovered tilts the axis of her world.
In the second novel of the Wheeler series, can Loren believe that even in darkness, there is still light, there is still hope; there is still love.

In Darkness,
There Is Still Light

Sara Butler Zalesky

Atherton Leaves Her! Has the Actor’s Whirlwind Romance with the Pro Cyclist run its Course?

“Yes, Charlotte, he left me. In the airport, to fly back to California.”
Loren Mackenzie knew the headline in The Sun was an exaggeration, but the World Champion time trialist still felt the sting. As her pro cycling season draws to a close, Loren looks forward to taking a break from training and a reuniting with her boyfriend, Graham Atherton. When rumors and innuendo begin to swirl around them, secrets they have kept from each other shake their relationship to its foundation.
Echoes from the past ripple into the present, giving Loren a bittersweet reunion with a love she thought was lost. But, reliving the fractured memories of her childhood has left her afraid to dig deeper; lest the monsters that dwell in the dark corners of her mind drag her down again.
Meanwhile, obsession and greed churn into a storm on the horizon, threatening Loren and those closest to her. When the tempest hits and the dust finally settles, what is uncovered tilts the axis of her world.
Loren must find the strength to believe that even in darkness, there is still light. There is still hope. There is still love.

The following is the first chapter of In Darkness, There is Light.

***
3 October
New York

It’s not over. It’s not.
Loren Mackenzie let out a sigh, her eyes following the blinking lights of a jetliner as it disappeared into the distance over Kennedy International Airport. He’s just going back to work in California and I’m going home, to England. She let out an even longer sigh. Just two more races and I get to take a real break. How perfect would it be to just go lie on a beach somewhere with him.
Her gaze refocused on the reflection of a man approaching her in the window; his long, confident stride and athletic form quickened her pulse. She turned to face him, but her smile dissolved into a hard frown when he was stopped by a group of fawning teenagers, begging for autographs and selfies with him.
Yep, I had to fall in love with an A-list actor. As Graham Atherton separated himself from the group to continue toward her, Loren forced a smile, but it didn’t stick as he stopped again to become engrossed in his mobile. He looked up from the screen to continue on his way.
“Sorry about that, love,” he said to her. “Just a text from Ron. He said he’ll ring you when he gets into London to discuss setting up a meeting. Is that alright with you?”
She squinted an eye. “So I have people now?”
“I do come as somewhat of a package deal. All that, you know.” He thumbed at the disbursing crowd behind him. “And Ron’s a bit more than just my agent,” he said. “He’s my best mate and I trust him.”
“That’s nice of him to offer.” She turned back to the window as Graham came up behind and wrapped his arms around her.
“Talk to me, love.”
“It’s just, this is the longest we’ve been physically together, and I don’t want it to end.” Her shoulders drooped. “I’m sorry I’m whining. I’m just tired.”
“No, darling, you’re not just tired,” he murmured. “You’ve been completely shat on.” He kissed her neck then tightened his arms around her. “You won the time trial Championship in Richmond, but you had to put up with all the nonsense from the press. And then losing the road race, which even that BBC reporter, Theo Arnold agrees was not your fault.” Graham came around to face her with pinched brows.
“But if that weren’t enough, you had to deal with me throwing your past in your face.” He cupped her cheek. “I still feel awful for that, and I want to help you, but I have no idea how.” Loren kissed him, then put her arms around his waist and held him close.
“I just want this, and more of it when I see you again.” He gave her a squeeze then drew away to glance around them. “Graham?”
“Grab your bag and come with me.” He bent to pick up their carry-ons, then led her to a private seating area, far away from prying ears and eyes. He took a seat on the small sofa across from her and held her hand with both of his.
“Darling, I know how hard it was for you and your aunt to talk about what happened to your mother and sister, and I’m awfully proud of you for doing that,” Graham said and glanced down at their clasped hands. “I also know Maggie gave you all of the photos and documents she found in the attic, and you have the file my father’s man put together.” He grimaced. “I want to ask that you don’t look through all that again by yourself.”
“Is that all?” she chuckled softly. “Here I thought you wanted to have a quickie or something.” His stare was somewhere between being shocked and wanting to laugh; his laugh won.
“I love you.” But his mirth it died out as his bright blue eyes studied her. “I have a present for you, and I wanted to save this for your birthday, but it’s burning a hole in my pocket.” He removed a small red velvet box from his jacket and her jaw dropped.
“What are you doing?” she whispered.
He leaned in closer, smirking. “I’m not asking; I’m giving. That’s all.” Her hands shook as she took the box and opened it. Nestled inside was a platinum ring of two clasped hands holding a red stone shaped like a heart, capped with a crown.
“It’s a Claddagh. I’ve always wanted one,” she said, smiling at him. “What’s the stone?”
“It’s a garnet,” he replied. Taking it out of the box, he slipped it on her left ring finger, the hands facing outward. Graham held her gaze as tightly as her hand. “With this crown, I pledge to you my loyalty. With these hands, I offer you my service, and with this heart, I give you mine.”
Loren couldn’t speak as her brain reset. “I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t have to say anything, love. The stunned look on your face says it all,” he chuckled, but her eyes welled up.
“I didn’t want to cry in public, dammit,” she hiccupped, covering her mouth. He pulled her to sit on his lap, brushing her tears from her cheeks, but Loren frowned at him. “You had this with you the whole time we were together, and you’re just giving it to me now?”
“Well, yes and no,” he countered. “It belonged to my great-grandmother, so I’ve had it for a while, but it needed to be resized. It’s a complicated process, you know.” She kissed him then moved off his lap to the sofa but kept her legs draped over one of his.
“It’s beautiful. Thank you.” She settled her head on his shoulder, breathing in his scent and grazing her lips against the scruff on his jaw. “I don’t want you to go,” she whispered.
“I don’t want to either, but we both have jobs to do.” Graham held her tighter. “I’ll be home before you can miss me.”
She squeezed her eyes closed to hold back the tears. I miss you already.
He cleared his throat. “Loren, about the file﹘.”
“Who am I going to talk to, other than you or Maggie?”
“You can’t talk to Cece about it?”
She shook her head. “How can I talk to her about something I’ve never told her?”
“Perhaps you should.”
Loren sighed. “I need to talk about all of this with my brother, my real brother,” she replied. “I need to find him.” Graham moved back to see her, his mouth curled down.
“I know I have no right to ask this of you, but will you wait until I come home to do that?”
“Yah, I can wait. Hell, I don’t even know where to start looking,” she grumbled, and he kissed her forehead.
“I do love nothing in the world so well as you,” he murmured.
“Je connais,” Loren whispered, sliding her arms around his neck and kissed him.
***


  



It’s the start of a new year for World Champion cyclist Loren Mackenzie and already, her luck has taken a nosedive. Tensions rise at training camp in Mallorca, Spain, with the arrival of team sponsor, Ryzak Sports. There’s something familiar about Maksim Ryzak’s charm, and while Loren can see through it, she can’t shake the attraction.
Fingers are pointed at Loren when a reporter hints at her involvement in a doping scheme allegedly begun by Felix Lalonde. She denies it, but her fears that no one will believe her drag her down. When pictures of Graham with another woman are published by the tabloids, a match ignites that could burn their relationship to the ground.
The Spring Classics begin with races in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy, where rivals become allies and friends become adversaries. Loren is tested in both mind and body, but she is determined to prove herself worthy of being a World Champion.
But, as one fire is put out, another takes its place. Loren is still haunted by Felix, and it’s his voice in her ear in competition, whispering she’s not good enough. Even with her friends and family rallying behind her, can Loren free herself once and for all?


Sara has never lacked for imagination, but it wasn’t until the Fates decided to give the string of her life a tug, bringing her romantic leanings together with her passion for the sport of cycling and Poof! A story was written down and completed, much to her surprise and chagrin.

She is a (self)published author of women's fiction/sports romance novels, Wheeler and Wheeler: In Darkness, There is Still Light. A third novel to complete the series is in development.

The author resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, with her husband and their son. Sara is a paralegal for a law firm in Chester County, Pa, an avid road cyclist, and indoor cycling instructor at a national chain.


   


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16 comments :

  1. This is a new to me series. Sounds great!

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  2. I enjoyed the excerpts and look forward to reading.

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  3. I enjoyed the guest post and excerpt and the series sounds thrilling.

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  4. The covers are interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I especially like the cover for One Fire Burns Out, Another's Burning.

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  6. I love the covers. The red on black is very striking.

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  7. The covers are fantastic. I love the use of the heart.

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  8. I like the covers-thanks

    tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

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  9. Liked the covers. Looking forward to reading.

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  10. I love the steam punk of it, but I'd like to see it grittier, not so overtly black and red romance cliche

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  11. Interesting looking cover I think.

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  12. What do you think of the books or the covers?
    they all look great ,but i love the first in particular,its an amazing art style whit the gears and the heart.
    THX

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  13. I like that the covers are so different then what you always see.

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