Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Hello, Helena. Welcome to my Flowers and Thorns blog. What a pleasure to have you here for a few days. I so enjoy meeting new authors.

Let me pour you a cup of tea and put out the brownies. Are you comfy in that chair? Good. Now, relax and tell us how The Silk Romance came to be your first novel.

My first novel, The Silk Romance, is published!

Hi Lorrie, and thanks so much for having me on your blog.  It’s lovely to be here with so many established authors.

I still find it hard to believe I can now call myself a published author.  It’s a great feeling! J

Since my first novel, The Silk Romance, was published, many people have been asking me where I had the idea from for the story.  There were a couple of things that prompted me to write this book.  First of all, the setting.  My story is set in the beautiful city of Lyon, France.  As a student, I spent some time in Lyon working as an au pair, in order to improve my French.  (And believe me, there’s nothing like looking after small children to improve your language skills!)

The two children I looked after – a girl and a boy, aged three and twelve months – were delightful.  Every day we’d go out for a walk together in the gorgeous French sunshine, and I’d buy them some fruit from the market or an ice cream.  I really got to know the city well on our walks.  Lyon has a long history as a centre for silk-weaving, and when I sat down to write my first novel I decided to make a silk mill in this beautiful city the setting.

My novel is a sweet romance, and I wanted to give the story a fairy tale quality.  One of the fairy tales I love most is Cinderella.  I love the idea of a neglected heroine being given the chance to have the evening of her life; of a young girl falling head over heels in love with Prince Charming, and then having to run away and leave everything behind.  It’s such a romantic story.  This was the premise for The Silk Romance.  I updated the story, and put it in a modern setting, with a gorgeous French hero.
I love fairy tales, too. And who doesn't love a sweet romance? Show us your gorgeous cover.
Here’s the blurb:
Jean-Luc Olivier is a devastatingly handsome racing-driver with the world before him.  Sophie Challoner is a penniless student, whose face is unknown beyond her own rundown estate in London.  The night they spend together in Paris seems to Sophie like a fairytale—a Cinderella story without the happy ending. She knows she has no part in Jean-Luc’s future.  She made her dying mother a promise to take care of her father and brother in London.   One night of happiness is all Sophie allows herself. She runs away from Jean-Luc and returns to England to keep her promise.
Safely back home with her father and brother, and immersed in her college work, Sophie tries her best to forget their encounter, but she reckons without Jean-Luc.  He is determined to find out why she left him, and intrigued to discover the real Sophie.  He engineers a student placement Sophie can’t refuse, and so, unwillingly, she finds herself back in France, working for Jean-Luc in the silk mill he now owns.
Thrown together for a few short weeks in Lyon, the romantic city of silk, their mutual love begins to grow.  But it seems the fates are conspiring against Sophie’s happiness.  Jean-Luc has secrets of his own.  Then, when disaster strikes at home in London, Sophie is faced with a choicestay in this glamorous world with the man she loves, or return to her family to keep the sacred promise she made her mother.
And I absolutely love the cover to my novel, which was designed by artist Charlotte Volnek.  I think it has just the right feel, and the heroine has a lovely fairy tale quality to her.
I hope you enjoyed reading the blurb to my first novel.  If you’d like to read on, The Silk Romance is available here in the Muse bookstore, and from Amazon, Kobo and all major retailers.
And if you’ve enjoyed my post, please call in on my blog:, or on my Facebook page.  You can also email me at Helena(dot)Fairfax(at)gmail(dot)com.  I love meeting people J
Thanks again for having me on your blog, Lorrie.  It’s been lovely to meet you and your readers here.
It's been fabulous having you here today, Helena. Your novel certainly has quite an appeal. When I think of romantic Paris, I see sidewalk cafes, the Eiffel Tower looming in the background, and lovers walking hand in hand. Oooh, dream on, Lorrie. Ahem, I digress. 
Did I tell you readers that we love comments. Let's welcome Helena to the novel publishing world. Give her your thoughts.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


 Hi Kim, so nice to have you back on my blog for three days. I always like your interesting posts. What do you have for us today?

The Difference Between Mystery and Suspense

Hi everyone!  A huge thanks to Lorrie for having me back today!

Although mystery is an element found in almost every genre…what if there weren’t any secrets to uncover, bad guys to catch, why would you want to turn the pages and continue reading? Romance, romantic suspense, thrillers or other genres all have some sort of element of mystery.

Mystery novels involve a puzzle–a game of whodunit. A crime usually happens offstage and it’s up to the protagonist to uncover the truth.
In a suspense novel–a threat and imminent danger must be resolved not a puzzle being resolved.

Something is coming. Footsteps. Bad guys. Run! Run! Run!

It’s the ticking bomb concept. The stakes are much higher as the threat reaches an impossible level.

A suspense novel builds then ebbs creating an emotional rollercoaster. The author ensures the ride crashes at the right moment with a big bang.

I love writing and reading romantic suspense, not only does the suspense provide instant tension in a story, I love the push-pull-tug-of-war of romance.

Will the hero and heroine get together? Will they overcome the conflict and live happily ever after?

In my book REFLECTION, my heroine, reporter, Whitney Steel is investigating an alleged human cloning project when she meets up with the hero, FBI Agent, Blake Neely, who is searching for his own answers. Everything from this point on focuses on Blake and Whitney discovering whether or not the villain has produced the world's first cloned human with the villain one step ahead of them. Whitney and Blake don't set out to fall in love. The relationship between the hero and heroine evolves because of the suspense.

So what is the perfect blend of romance and suspense? In my opinion--a kick-ass heroine and a sexy FBI agent, sizzling romance, murder, and lots and lots of mayhem!


Florida investigative reporter, Whitney Steel, has lived in the shadow of her legendary father long enough. To prove herself she needs to find the “Big” story.

She found it.

Now it may kill her.

After Whitney receives a lead pointing to the world's first cloned human, now a small child, she vows to unravel the truth. However, sifting through the facts proves to have dangerous results, including death threats and murder.

When Whitney is nearly killed, but is saved by undercover FBI Special Agent, Blake Neely, he refuses to let her get in the way of his own objective—at least not right away.

Caught in a lethal game between a billionaire obsessed with genetic perfection, his hit man’s thirst for retribution, and a Colombian drug lord fresh out of prison determined to make Blake pay for his twin brother’s death over a decade ago...

Can they save an innocent child before its too late?

Faced with tough choices, with deadly consequences for many—Whitney soon realizes that sometimes a story becomes more than just a story.


Whitney rummaged through her leather bag, placed her digital voice recorder on thetable and gave the record button a firm push. “For the record, Senator Bailey, did you kill Carmen Lacey?”

 “No.” He leaned back in the chair and loosened his pinstriped tie. “It’s true. I was the last person to see her alive. But there’s more to this than you think.”

 Brown eyes that once set her heart hammering now conveyed a chilling, hollow look. Was it guilt? Desperation?

 No. Fear.

 Uneasiness slid down her spine. She stopped the recorder. “Mason, you’re scaring me. What the hell is going on? It’s been over three years since we last spoke. Then, out of the blue, you beg me to meet with you today. I know the police don’t believe you killed that woman.”

“But do you, Whitney? Do you believe I killed her? I need to know. It’s important.”

 Stunned by the urgency in his voice, she answered carefully. “Of course not. You’re many things, but you’re not a killer.”

 “Thank you. That means a lot to me.” He reached for his empty glass and tapped his chunky gold ring against the side.

 Whitney turned the recorder on again.

“Carmen was a scientist working for a biotech company in Nevada. ShawBioGen. Heard of it?”

 “Who hasn’t? They were one of the first to clone animals in the eighties. Caused quite a stir. But I don't understand. What does that have to do with Carmen’s death?”

 He opened his mouth to answer.

 The large window behind them dividing the patio from the main restaurant

A real thriller, Kim. What a tease of a blurb and excerpt. This is my kind of novel and definitely on my TBB list. 


Where to Buy


Available in paperback at Amazon & Createaspace

We love comments. Please leave yours below



Thursday, May 23, 2013


Hello, Janie,

You have some good news for us today and I think I'm as excited as you are. Please, shout out the announcement to all of us.

As I’m about to engage in content edits for Coda, the last book in The Lost Song Trilogy, I am so very pleased to announce that the entire Bowdancer Saga will now be housed under one publishing roof. I just received contracts from MuseItUp Publishing for the first three books in the series. Originally published under another company, these books will flesh out the early years of the Saga’s heroine, Jan-nell, who has had more than her share of struggles as an intelligent woman tied to roles that culture has placed her.

 Coda becomes book 6 in the Bowdancer Saga and finishes up the task laid upon Jan-nell by a dying woman to find the origins of the famed Warrior Women, the women who live apart high on a lonely mountain, hidden from the rest of the world.

 Verses and Refain begin Jan-nell’s search for answers to who the Warrior Women are and how they came to find refuge for two hundred years high on a mountain. She and her companions follow whispers of clues found in the verses of a song.

 The entire Bowdancer Saga has much song and dance, herb lore, and much foraging and feasting of wild edibles. There is a cast of characters, each rich in his or her own cultural practices (yes…more songs, dances, spiritual beliefs, food, and art).

 Having a degree in anthropology, I’ve tried to create Jan-nell’s world as completely as possible. Lifeways---customs, beliefs, taboos, music and art, and food—flesh out any created world. I’ve tried to introduce herbs and foods that readers can recognize, though by other names. I’ve choreographed dances and written words to chants and tavern ditties. I’ve explored a wide range of belief in those that Jan-nell encounters that is quite different from her own. Yet, Jan-nell seems to find meaning in those differences as well as common ground for understanding.

 The people Jan-nell meets are vastly different from the simpler folk on the horse plains where we first see her in The Bowdancer (Book 1 out early next year). I have loved and gritted my teeth at these characters. Sometimes I just want to knock one upside of the head because he or she just didn’t understand Jan-nell, and sometimes I wanted to sit Jan-nell down and give her a good talking to.

 The whole Bowdancer Saga deals with difference, isolation and not being understood, a constant struggle for belonging, and the transformative power of faith and companionship—all seen through the eyes of a woman coming to understand herself and her purpose.

 Step into Jan-nell’s world in Verses, book 1 of The Lost Song Trilogy. Her journey continues through Refrain, and Coda (which will be out in November).

 See where it all began in The Bowdancer, The Wayfarer’s Road, and Warrior Women---all due in early 2014.

Eleven summers after Jan-nell the bowdancer left her daughter Mira-nell with the sisterhood of hunters on the mountain and came to live with Khrin to raise their son, Bearin, she is called by the sisterhood to find their origins.

The first clue is a bit of song Jan-nell learns at the deathbed of the oldest woman in the sisterhood’s village. Jan-nell and her companions seek the origins of the mysterious women on the mountain through the verses of a song.

Master hunter Bekar and master trackfinder Chandro accompany Jan-nell and Bearin on a quest for the lost song that takes them from their local inn out across the landscape of their world as they meet bee spinners and kings and risk their lives to achieve their goal.

As Jan-nell, her son Bearin, the sensuous hunter Bekar, and trackfinder Chandro continue their quest for the lost song, they make alliances with the virile dark-skinned sword dancers, who serve as bodyguards to a king, and the exotic, handsome beast trainers of the desert. Jan-nell is beset with jealousies, new sexual stirrings, deepening spiritual practices, and a growing bond with one of her companions.
I'm looking forward to reading this saga, Janie. So intriguing. The historical facts  you must have woven in have to be an education considering your bio below. let me say, I'm very impressed.

Janie Franz comes from a long line of liars and storytellers with roots deep in east Tennessee. Honed by the frigid Northern Plains and the high desert of New Mexico as well as a degree in anthropology, her writing skill and curiosity have generated thousands of feature and cover articles over a vast range of topics for a hundred regional, national, and international publications since 2000.

She has co-written two books with Texas wedding DJ, Bill Cox (The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book and The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book), and has self-published a writing manual, Freelance Writing: It’s a Business, Stupid!  

She is a book and music reviewer. She ran her own online music publication, was a booking agent/publicist for a groove/funk band, a radio announcer, and a yoga/relaxation instructor.
Let me add my congratualations for writing this soon to be released saga. I'm sure it will be a winner for you.
We love to hear from readers. Please leave a comment for Janie below.


Monday, May 20, 2013



Hi, M., so glad you could make it for a few days. Tell us, what kind of stories do you really write?
“What sort of stories do you write?” is a question authors are commonly asked. For quite some time it was a question I had a hard time answering. “Bits of this and that,” I would answer. Hardly, I think you would agree, a great answer. Luckily for me, the answer was supplied by a reviewer on Amazon…

Suddenly I was an author of supernatural and natural horror and I was quite comfortable with the definition. Certainly a lot of my earlier published work fell squarely into that category and, when I collected my published stories into ‘Olverston Grange …and Other Stories’ , I certainly had no qualms about describing it as horror.

As I was learning my trade I had produced a body of work that included the expected horror icons of ghosts, vampires and zombies which covers the supernatural… but what the natural? I had tales of a hen-pecked husband, a child who is scared of the dark and a host of deeply personal poetry and I swear there’s penguins too!

There is something deeply satisfying about supplying the reader with a scare. One review even statedThis is an anthology that will touch on fears you may not even know you have.’ And that gave me a sense of intense satisfaction. Being an author is as much about touching a reader as it is about giving freedom to the stories that rampage around your head.

\Countless times a day, I see or hear something that just has to appear in a story. I also have ‘What if?’ moments that lead to a story and, I must admit, when I am having a bad day then a character is a story is going to have a very bad day. Sometimes I even feel bad for them, a fictional being that sprang from my own mind. One such put-upon character is Tim Hewitson.

Tim is the hero of the first of my Blue Jackets series, ‘Induction’. During a rough phase in my life, Tim was born. I was particularly cruel to this young man. He is bullied at school, unhappy at home, and lives with what he has been told is a disability. He is granted his greatest wish when he finds out his condition is a superpower. Then life gets really hard!
I find myself wondering if giving my characters such a hard time is cathartic, that I’m somehow exorcising my own demons or whether I’m just being mean! I also wonder if other authors feel the same thing or whether I’m reading too much into things (excuse the pun).


 In part two of Blue Jackets, ‘Growth Spurt’, I was initially just as mean to our heroine, Lydia. However, by the end of the second part, I made sure she got her greatest wish and all her dreams came true. This marked a change in direction for me, instead of just tormenting a hapless character, I gave them a reward, a pay-off for the pain they put up with.
This was taken to further lengths in third part of the series, ‘Thursday’s Child’ in which we see Tuesday, who has had her powers from birth and is well adjusted with them, happy if fact. Her life is one of adventure and travel, one which fulfils her wanderlust and gives her a sense of purpose before throwing her into a huge problem whilst in Paris.

Underneath the tales of horror and heroism, there is another story. One of an author dealing with his own fears. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2009 and, almost overnight, became a wheelchair user. The fear of what had happened is most prevalent in ‘Scared’ which features in ‘Olverston Grange …and Other Stories’ and my acceptance of what has happened to me has, inevitably, coloured the stories I have written. I hope this is evident and mostly I hope you enjoy anything you read by me.


M. Leon Smith was born just outside of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and grew up in the rural North-East. Ever since reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ at the age of eight he wanted to be a writer. It took until 2009 (some twenty-odd years later!) for him to actually chase the dream.

The second manuscript he submitted was published and he hasn’t looked back since. He is currently published by Books To Go Now and Skinned Knuckle Books.

Outside of his passion for literature, he is consumed by his love of music.

Links to find out more:
Twitter: @GeordieWriter
His own website:
Great post, M. I like the covers.
Folks, leave a comment for M, we'd love to hear from you,


Friday, May 17, 2013


Hello, Jane,
Welcome to my blog. It's so nice to have you here. This is a book that intrigues me. As I posted, I read. It's definitely on my TBB list.

But first, tell us,

Who Do You Think You Are?

 Have you ever thought about just how many different people you really are?

We’re all quite capable of having multiple personalities.  We do it every day.  When you think about it, we all behave in different ways, not just in the different situations we find ourselves in, but depending on the people we’re with.  We pull different aspects of our personalities to the fore, depending on who we’re spending time with.  In essence, we become different people. 

How do you behave with your friends?  What about the one who’s quiet, thoughtful, considers a situation carefully before she forms and opinion or makes a decision.  Do you find yourself more likely to behave the same way when you’re with her?  The quieter, more considered ‘you’ takes over.

What about that zany, life’s-a-party friend?  Nothing seems to bother her, and she turns every possible negative into a positive, with flags on!  How much of that rubs off on you, and do you behave the same way with her?  Your own party spirit comes to the fore. 

Then there’s the friend who’s a great deal older and far more experienced than you.  You’re always asking for advice, learning from her stories.  You’re the pupil to her teacher.

Think about how are you with the other people you meet every day.  Children, perhaps your own kids and those of other people.  Colleagues and co-workers, strangers on the bus to work.  What about the assistant in the shop where you have a complaint, or the bank official who’ll decide whether or not you’ll get that loan?  We’d never behave exactly the same way with all of them.  So we bring forward different parts of our characters, put them on like a set of clothes, and become the person we need to be in any given situation. 

BUT, at the heart of it all, deep inside – you’re still you.  That spark of who you are, that little flame that burns deep inside that lets you know you’re still the same Jane at heart, or the same Lorrie, or the Mary, Polly or Susan.  That little spark of You-Ness, your individuality, is always there - thank goodness!

Now let’s go one step further, and then another.

First of all, imagine you’re in a situation where you have to be one of those other people all of the time.  Only when you’re completely alone can you let go of Party Girl, or Miss Quiet, or The Expert.  Hard work, huh?  You bet!

Now let’s add something else to the mix.  Now, while you’re being that other person, let’s suppose something really big, really momentous, happens to you.  Something like - falling in love.

For a moment, all you want to do is throw off that other personality and follow your true heart, that little spark of You-Ness.  But you can’t.

You can’t, because if you did – you’d be dead.

So what do you do?  Here’s what you do.  You do nothing.  You have to let it go.  And though it hurts to the quick, you’ve no choice.  Let it go.

This idea of having to be someone else so completely and utterly someone that’d you’d have to give of something as important as your shot at real love is one that fascinated me so much, I incorporated it into the story that became A Different Kind of Honesty.  When FBI Agent Tony Valentino is working deep undercover, one slip that reveals who he truly is means he’ll won’t survive.  One mistake, and he’s a dead man.  Then he meets Maggie Lawless, and he knows – he just knows- that she’s the one.  But he can’t tell her.  Like we said earlier, he has no choice but to let her go.  Pretend she never happened.

Is that the end of the story?  Of course not.  I’ll leave you with a short excerpt from A Different Kind of Honesty.  I hope it’ll make you want to read more.

Keep that little spark burning!
“I don’t know how you did it,” Maggie said. “I mean, the name and everything, for all that time. Being someone else.” She glanced away and a look he couldn’t identify crossed her face. Confusion, perhaps? Anxiety. “Were you someone else?”
Tony thought hard, shook his head. “I don’t think so…not entirely.” He rubbed a finger across his brow. “It was like being both, me and him, all at the same time. Him on the outside, me on the inside.” He looked out across the room to the lights of New York, wondering. He’d never thought of it before, the way she’d asked, at least not coherently. “And you know what?” he said, still staring out of the window. “That was fine. Until one day something happened and I started to hate that name.
Her voice was no more than a whisper. “What happened?”
“I met you,” he said simply. “I met you and I wanted to tell you everything. What I was doing, who I was. All of it.”
Maggie lowered her head and made a little stifled sound, a release of something. “But you couldn’t.”
Tony closed his eyes, remembering that chilly fall morning. The cream and gold corridor outside her hotel room, her kiss still hot on his mouth as he started to walk away from her door. Something stopping him; a fine, invisible chain unravelling behind him and snapping him back, strained and taut. He’d slumped against the wall, his eyes running over the stupid over-elaborate plaster cornice that roped along the edge of the ceiling like frosting on a wedding cake. His fists bunched hard to his sides, pressing down as if he could push himself down through the floor, down into the earth till he had nowhere else to go but up, screaming the truth. The physical effort he’d made to stop himself from banging on the door and telling her everything, just to hear her say his real name over and over as they made love. When he pushed himself off the wall, the heel of his shoe had left a dirty half-moon on the flock paper.
He opened his eyes. He was still here in her room and she was there, quiet and unmoving. Just waiting; giving him his time, his space.
“No one knew everything,” he said. “Not my supervisor or the men I was with. Not my wife, my family. Only I knew it all and it filled me up, but it was okay. I was sorta big enough to hold it all, you know?” He lifted his beer to his lips, but changed his mind and put it down. “And You happened and that was somehow too big for me. I needed you to know it all too. I wanted you to have the truth.”
Behind him, Dinah began a new song. “EmbraceableYou.” Maggie moved toward him and set her glass on the counter beside his beer. She touched her fingertips to his face.
“I can have it now.”
Taking the half step that brought him close enough to lean his forehead on hers, Tony laid his hand over her fingers on his cheek; her mouth so close her light, hesitant breath brushed his lips.
“Maggie,” he said quietly, and felt her breathe in. “Six months…six months of dreaming about you, thinking I’d never see you again.” He slid his hand behind her head, the scent of her hair the same as before of roses, and something rich and heavy he couldn’t name. He buried his face in it, filling himself with her.
“I thought it’d kill me. But now, it’s like I died and came back to life.”
“I didn’t even know your real name.” Her fingers rested lightly on his chest as her voice wrapped itself around his insides. “All that time, thinking of you as someone else.”
Tony touched a finger lightly to her lips, hoping against hope. “That’s just a figure of speech, right? All that time, thinking of me?”
Maggie looked up, and her eyes were full of something he recognized deep inside, something familiar he tried to name, but the word escaped him.
“No,” she whispered. “Not a figure of speech.”
As he kissed her, the word returned. It was something that had eluded him all his life except for one short, perfect night—the one thing he needed above anything else.  And he knew now, just as he’d known then, that she was his only source, she was the beginning and the end.
The word was ‘honesty.’
*Wow, as I said, intriguing. Give us a little more, please, Jane.*
Always the one who ends relationships before they’ve barely begun, it’s way out of character for Maggie Lawless to take a risk with a man she hardly knows…the man she meets in a seedy New York City diner has a truth about him, a sincerity like no one she’s ever met before. Tony Valentino is an FBI agent fresh from a long-term undercover operation that’s left his life in tatters. His marriage over, separated from his children and with nowhere to call home, he’s frustrated and angry. All that keeps him going is the sweet memory of a brief encounter with a beautiful woman, though it wakes him from crazy dreams that leave his mouth dry and his sheets soaked with sweat. When he meets her again, it’s obvious the fire that burned so briefly between them never really went out...but as their affair rekindles, both Tony and Maggie find the very people they thought they could trust are the first to turn against them.
*All I can say is, wow again. Where can we find your book?*
A Different Kind of Honesty is available from Muse It Up Publishing and all major e-book retailers.
Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Jane. I'm looking forward to reading this one.
Leave a comment for Jane Richardson folks.
We'd love to hear from you.