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I write suspense and light fantasy/paranormal set in the beautiful country of New Zealand. A land of myths and magic, Aotearoa (Maori for Long White Cloud) has always been a storytelling nation and it is my pleasure to share mine with you.

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Heartpounding suspense and fantasy Downunder

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Flawless Jewel of a Story

I had the utmost pleasure to be a preliminary reader for Flawless - just before I was offered a contract for Guardian of the Jewel. I loved it and knew if all the stories were of this high calibre for the Jewel of the Night series, we were all in for a treat! I'll sit back now and let Jana tell you more about her wonderful story, secure in the knowledge you'll love it just as much as I did.

How long did you give yourself to write “Flawless”?
I wanted to give myself a good six months to write the story. But when I first saw the call go out for submissions to the series back in October 2009, I couldn’t think of a thing to write about. I did a little research on blue diamonds, but no inspiration lightning bolts hit me. By Christmas I had pretty much resigned myself to the thought that I would not be submitting a story to “Jewels of the Night”.

Then over the Christmas holidays my husband and I were watching a TV show about World War II. I’ve always found WWII a fascinating period in history. We started throwing around ideas and finally inspiration struck! The germ of the idea was born.

After consulting with some friends on the plot at the beginning of January, I took time off work to participate in my writing group’s “Book in a Week” and I wrote the majority of the first draft. After some critiques and revisions, I submitted the story to TWRP, just before the March 31, 2010 deadline. This was probably the fastest story I’ve ever written, from idea to first draft!

What was it like writing for a series?
It was great. The parameters for this series were wide open, so as long as the story featured a blue diamond and it was a romantic suspense, I was good to go! Any time period could be used, and there were no continuing characters, landmarks, or other conventions that needed to be used from book to book. So I was pretty much able to write the story I wanted to write, no holds barred.

How smooth was the publishing journey and was it different to others because of the tighter deadline?
I don’t want to give the impression that this journey was without its bumps. The initial writing went quickly, but I had to complete two major rewrites before “Flawless” was accepted for publication. And then after that there was still plenty of revision to do. My wonderful editor Nan Swanson from the Vintage Rose line of TWRP certainly made me work for it! But I think her suggestions were exactly what the book needed.

As far as the tighter deadline, I think it helped me. When I have a deadline it really motivates me to work hard to be finished in time.

Favourite part of the book/favourite character? Why?
I love my heroine Madeleine. Her bravery awes me. If I had lived in her time, in France under Nazi occupation, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to join the Resistance and essentially act as a spy, right under German noses. It’s hard to believe how many women were just like Madeleine during WWII.

My favorite part of the book? That’s like asking me which of my children I love more! But I have to admit that one of my favorite parts is when Hunter arrives at the Chateau to begin work as gardener. He arrives just in time to rescue Madeleine from being raped by the Nazi General Klaus Dietrich. He tells Dietrich that he and Madeleine are married. Furthermore, he drops the little bombshell that Madeleine is pregnant! This comes as rather a surprise to Madeleine, but she gamely plays her part. But now that Hunter has made this announcement, they are forced to live together as husband and wife. And that’s how their love story begins.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Just that I’m very pleased to be part of this series, and happy to be a Wild Rose Press author. They are a great group to work for. And thank you very much, LaVerne, for having me guest on your blog today.

France, 1942. The world is at war. The Nazis have stolen the infamous blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, intending to barter it for weapons that will destroy the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter Smith is given a choice; help the French Resistance steal back the diamond and avenge the death of his best friend, or stay locked up in an English prison. He chooses revenge.
Resistance fighter Madeleine Bertrand’s husband died when he was betrayed by Hunter Smith. How can she now pretend to be married to the arrogant American? How can she betray Jean Philippe’s memory by her passionate response to Hunter’s kisses? Neither is prepared for the maelstrom of attraction that erupts between them. To survive they must uncover the mysteries of the past and conquer the dangers of the present. But first Madeleine must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband and the Resistance or with the greatest love of her life.

“From now on you will be known as Jacques Lemay, Monsieur Smith.”
Monsieur Gagnon filled his pipe, dropping bits of tobacco onto his wife’s immaculate floor. Madeleine sat off to one side of Monsieur Gagnon’s kitchen, watching as Madame Gagnon prepared breakfast for her husband and their “guest.” Madeleine silently seethed as Smith—non, Lemay—helped himself to another piece of bread. Did he have to eat so much? Didn’t he know that food was scarce here in Lille, just as it was all over France?
She listened as Smith handed over the new two-way radio to Monsieur Gagnon and explained its use.
“It’s supposed to have a clearer and stronger signal than the radio you’re using now,” Smith said. He flipped a few dials to illustrate. “They also told me it is easier to scramble the signal to avoid detection.”
“Bon.” Monsieur Gagnon beamed in pleasure. “Good communications are essential to our work. Thank you for bringing it.”
“No problem. What else can you tell me about my cover here?”
“You are to work as a junior gardener at the chateau. I wrote to the head gardener, as if I was you, inquiring about work. He’s desperate for help. The Germans have rounded up many young Frenchmen and shipped them east to work in factories in Germany, so there are few able-bodied men available. You start tomorrow.”
He paused as his wife set a bowl of porridge in front of him. Monsieur Gagnon could not be connected with Jacques Lemay in any way; their comings and goings to this house had to be done with the utmost discretion. Madeleine knew the importance of keeping Monsieur Gagnon and his wife safe. He was the heart of their operation, their connection to the outside world through the radio he operated. If something went wrong and Hunter Smith was captured, it was crucial that no trails led back to Monsieur Gagnon. The safety of their réseaux, their Resistance network, depended on it. She hoped Smith understood the danger.
“I said in the letter that you had not worked as a gardener before, so he is not expecting you to know the difference between a delphinium and a dianthus.” Monsieur Gagnon poured milk onto his porridge. “But he is expecting you to work hard. If you don’t, you could be fired, or your cover could be blown.”
“I can manage.”
“The job might require a little more than sticking a shovel in the ground occasionally and spreading a bit of manure,” Madeleine said. The others turned to stare at her.
She immediately regretted her sarcastic remark, regretted throwing his words in his face. She shouldn’t let this man get to her, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. They needed to work together for the sake of the mission. But she hated him. After what he’d done to Jean Philippe…
Hunter’s gaze locked with hers, and the heat of his anger scorched her clear across the room. She refused to back down from the challenge in his stare. She’d be damned if she’d let him intimidate her.
“Madeleine, enough.” Monsieur Gagnon spoke sharply. “Regardless of your feelings, we need him. He is our only hope for getting the diamond out of the hands of the Nazis.”
He was right. If they couldn’t steal Le Coeur Bleu, Jean Philippe would have died for nothing. She couldn’t let that happen.
She inhaled deeply and looked away. “All right. We’ll work together.”


Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side. She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, along with two university aged daughters and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou


  1. Jana- Flawless sounds fantastic, I'll have to check it out!

  2. I like the way you say your editor made you work for it, but it was worth it. Flawless sounds fantastic. I've already added it to my TBR list. Good luck with sales, Jana!

  3. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for your support! I hope you like the book!


  4. Hi Kat,
    Thanks for stopping by and for the good wishes. I've been very lucky to have had talented editors to work with. It's really great to have someone who can look at your work objectively and tell you where you can improve. Being open to an editor's suggestions can make the book so much better.


  5. Your story sounds wonderful. You've gotta love an editor who will take a risk on something with a few flaws and help turn it into a jewel!

  6. Hello Jana and LaVerne,

    It's interesting how one story, be it fiction or non-fiction, can lead onto firing our imaginations as writers. I've been fascinated by the Resistance movements, during World War Two, since my teenage years and this inspired me to write my Vintage Rose novel FRENCH KISS. I'm keen to read Flawless now, and wish you all the best with sales, Jana. Maybe we'll encourage a fan club of WW2 story collectors! Perhaps we should form one?

  7. Thanks Jannine. Having a few flaws in my manuscript seems to be the story of my life! I've learned to expect rewrites before being offered a contract. I'm definitely grateful to my editors for having the patience to stick with me and pointing me in the right direction.


  8. Hi Cherie,
    A fan club for WW2 stories? Sign me up!

    I honestly hadn't considered writing a story about the Resistance until "Flawless" hit me, although I've been interested in WW2 forever. I was more interested in the events of D-Day. I'm working on another manuscript called "Twice in a Lifetime" in which an old man, a veteran of D-Day, is given the chance to go back in time to 1944, when he first fell in love. That's a fascinating time period as well.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Enjoyed learning about the writing of the book almost as much as I enjoyed reading it! Nan was my editor for my first two books--she's great! Hope you have another "jewel" in the works!

  10. Judy, thank you so much for the wonderful review of "Flawless" you wrote. I appreciated more than you can know. And yes, Nan Swanson is great. She is very meticulous; she really made me dig deep to find the story inside me.

    I hope I have another "jewel" in the works. I just learned that my story "The Girl Most Likely" has been contracted for the Class of '85 series. This series is about a group of graduates from the fictional town of Summerville, NY who head home for their high school reunion. I'm really excited to be part of this terrific series!

  11. To read Judy Nickles lovely review of "Flawless", please go to her blog at Thanks again, Judy!


  12. Better late than never - Hey, Jana, followed you over from your blog. Great background to FLAWLESS, although I knew much of it already. Like others, I'm impressed with an editor who is willing to take a chance on a story that is, at heart, wonderful. Congrats!

    And congrats on getting the news for your reunion story. Glad to hear the rewrites were successful :)

  13. Hi Janet!
    Thanks so much for stopping by. And thanks again for all your help with "Flawless". Couldn't have done it without you, kid.

    And I'm really pleased about the reunion story. I pretty much ripped it apart and rewrote chunks of it. I'm just glad the editor liked it. Whew!

    BTW, I commented on your Friday blog about "The Gargoyle".