You've found the home on the net for romance writer, LaVerne Clark. Thanks for visiting! :)

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.

Make yourself your drink of choice, stay a while and feel free to leave comments. I love to meet new friends.

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On the Trail of Another Hot Read

The winner of Kat Duncan's Fifty-Eight Faces was Sarah Grimm. Congrats Sarah and happy reading! Thanks for commenting : )

Yummy! What a great cover don't you think??

Today on Novel Natterings, we have Gwen Roman here talking about her debut romance, "Trail of the Tudor Blue"
Sounds like another great read from the Jewel of the Night series!

Everyone deserves a happily ever after...
For straight-and-narrow art restorer Ardis Bellamy, a trip to the South of France to reclaim a historic blue diamond necklace should have been only mildly nervewracking. Understatement. In order to succeed, she's going to have to learn whom she can and can't trust, give the thugs who are chasing her the slip, and decide whether her growing relationship with sexy "recovery agent" James Tate is worth risking everything for -- or whether he's been double-crossing her all along.

He half-grinned, cocky and endearing.

And between the charm of his grin, the shift of his muscle, and the blue of his eyes, all manner of improper things rolled through my imagination. I needed to get away before the temptation overwhelmed me.

I shifted my hand to his chest and pushed. “Let go of me,” I said. But he stood fast against me, and he didn’t miss a beat in the music.

“Quit it,” he said. “Try a little common sense for a minute, huh? If I had any ill feelings I would have left you to Ahnshen’s wicked ways. And if I wanted to hurt you, you never would have left the Babette. Relax. Dance with me.”

I couldn’t have relaxed if I tried. There were too many unknowns, too many questions knocking around my brain. “What do you want?”

He huffed. “Christ, you’re redundant.”

“Why are you following me?”

“I would have thought that was obvious.”

I became again aware of the heat of his body, of the enticing scent of him. The beat of the music coursed through my veins and set my body in motion in time with his. A thrill I hadn’t experienced in far too long filled me, but I was in the wrong time and place to lose myself in its rush.

Gathering my wits, I leaned back to look Tate in the eye. “Tell me,” I said.

He smiled, slow and soft, and his eyes, though warm, lacked mirth. “I’m looking for Marco.”

I raised one eyebrow at him—not on purpose. The one eyebrow action was a twitch, a failure to raise two rather than a skill. “Join the club.”

longer excerpt available at:

Buy links:

Phew! Great excerpt and I love the sound of Tate - mmm, mmm!
What was it like writing for a series? Where did you come up with the idea for the plot?
My experience I’m sure was a little different than most of the other Jewel of the Night authors’. At the time I saw the submission call, I was fortunate to already have a romance manuscript featuring a blue diamond! The story had seeded in my mind during a visit to my local library. I can’t even remember what I was researching at the time, but I looked up from my table and a book on gems and jewels caught my eye and seemed like the perfect break from what I was doing. Flipping through the book, I came upon the photo of an historic necklace that stopped me cold. The piece is called The Spanish Inquisition:

That was the inspiration for the necklace Ardis and Tate are after TRAIL OF THE TUDOR BLUE – only with blue diamonds as opposed to emeralds. The necklace took firm hold of my imagination, and didn’t let go until I’d written “the end.”

How long did you give yourself to write it?
Since the manuscript was already written, the writing wasn’t the problem. Editing it down to work count – and getting rid of a lot of pointless or repetitious scenes – became the challenge. I gave myself three weeks to edit, and then begged some friends to read the revised version as quickly as possible. While they were reading, I queried Wild Rose Press with the project and had made adjustments per reader feedback before Wild Rose requested the full.

How smooth was the publishing journey and was it different to others because of the tighter deadline?
With TUDOR BLUE being my debut romance, the only publishing journey comparison I can make relates more to my day job (scientific and technical journals publishing). We often have 24-hours to turn around an article and get it published online. So for me, I had zero sense of a tight deadline. The biggest adjustment, though, was dealing with a production schedule that had some flexibility built in – huge culture shock for me!

Favourite part of the book? Why?
Oooh. That’s a tough one! There are so many moments in the book that I adore (am I allowed to adore my own story? Hmmm…) Absolutely! : ) I adore the moment Ardis goes through Tate’s traveling bag. I adore the bit where they’re walking along the streets of Marseilles. I adore their first kiss. Probably, though, my favorite scene is with Ardis and Tate sitting side-by-side on the back of the Babette, his hand on her thigh, and the necklace on the table in front of them. It’s the point where they come together for a united purpose and the glimmer that maybe, just maybe, these two very different people could find a future together. Ahhh, I guess I’m a romantic at heart, huh?

But that brings up an interesting question for the blog readers here. What are some of your favorite moments in romance novels or movies? At what point do you know the hero and heroine are destined for one another despite the odds?