Posted in Writing


Today I’m pleased to welcome Jane Dixon Smith – not only a talented book designer but a novelist as well.

Signing Bio PhotoTell us a bit about you…

I’m first and foremost a book designer, having been in the graphic design industry my whole life. It was a surprise to end up here, but then it shouldn’t have been since I’ve been a writer almost as long as I’ve been a designer. The two eventually merged and I’m very glad they did. I’m also very lucky to live in the Lake District surrounded by such beautiful countryside and tea and cake shops!

How did J D Smith – Design come about and what services does it offer?

I design book covers and also specialise in interior formatting of both fiction and non-fiction books. I also design various accompaniments, such as flyers, bookmarks, posters and so on. I used to manage a design studio for a number of years, but when eventually the structure of the company changed and the office closed, I began working on a freelance basis. Knowing so many writers meant that work came mainly from them, and it wasn’t long before I was working almost exclusively on books.

What is a typical day for you?

Well I live right next door to the school my three children attend, so once they’re fed and dressed it’s a quick drop off and I’m back home putting the kettle on. So, despite them starting school at 8.50, I’m usually sat back at my desk with a cup of tea by 9am. Then it’s replying to emails, working on covers, sourcing images, making amendments and so on until 3.15 when I pick them back up again. Then I work for a couple of hours in the evening when they’re in bed and the house it quiet once more. It Tristan and Iseult Cover MEDIUMworks well because it’s flexible.

Does living in the Lake District give you inspiration for your work?

Not really. I’ve written both about Syria, Rome, Egypt, Cornwall and Ireland. But not about here. I think it inspires my general love of history, though. I’m a real fan of everything historical and the Lake District offers a lot of untapped history and beauty.

What made you decide to add writing to your list of talents?

I love stories and immersing myself in the worlds my characters inhabit. I don’t think it’s a decision so much as a place I’m simply drawn to and enjoy.

The Rise of Zenobia Cover EBOOK2You’ve written historical novels. What are your future plans?

I’m still writing historical novels! I first wrote Tristan and Iseult, which became a finalist in the Historical Novel Society Indie Book of the Year Awards 2015. And then I published the first three books in the Overlord series, based on the Palmyrene Queen Zenobia, who defied Rome. There’s another three to go so that’s going to keep me busy for a while I should think.

Would you ever consider another genre and if so, what and why?

No, never. I love history too much. I suppose I’ve considered moving back and forth in time, and flitting a little between romantic history and the more brutal war themed, but that’s all.

And now, the dreaded dinner party, question. You’re the hostess and can invite four guests. Who would they be?

I was asked this question recently and I said I’d invite my fellow Triskele Books authors: Jill, Gilly, Kat, Batty , Liza and Barbara. That’s six though? They’ll have to share seats.The Love of Julius Cover LARGE EBOOK

JD Smith, is the author of the Historical Novel Society Indie Book of the Year Award Finalist Tristan and IseultThe Rise of Zenobia and The Fate of an Emperor, The Better of Two Men, editor of Words with JAM and Bookmuse, member of the Triskele Books collective, and the mother of three mischievous boys.

You can discover more about her writing at

Posted in Writing


Fluence Tour BannerFLUENCE

Ten thousand minutes and counting

Fluence Cover Reveal_300dpi

By Stephen Oram

Genre: Dystopian

Published by Silverwood Books

Amber is young and ambitious. Martin is burnt out by years of struggling. She cheats to get what she wants while he barely clings on to what he has. It’s the week before the annual Pay Day when strata positions are decided by the controlling corporations. The social media feed is frenetic with people trying to boost their influence rating while those above the strata and those who’ve opted out pursue their own manipulative goals.

Fluence is a story of aspiration and desperation and of power seen and unseen. It’s a story of control and consequence. It’s the story of the extremes to which Amber and Martin are prepared to go in these last ten thousand minutes before Pay Day.





This was a very thought provoking read.  Here we have an imagined world (not so far away from the one we currently live in) where individuals compete on social media for Fluence points.  At the end of the year scores are then added up and colour graded according to the number of points achieved. The colour an individual is awarded is fixed for a year and dictates their social status and class. It controls every aspect of their lives, including where they live and who they socialise with

Amber and Martin work at the same place – the Bureaucracy – as part of a disability assessment team. Their job is to determine whether people are fit to work, or if they need to be supported by the government.  There are Fluence points to be gained for good job performance, keeping those disability figures down – so there’s a conflict of conscience straight away. Gain points by reducing the numbers on government support, or make an honest assessment to assist those less fortunate.

Amber is both knowledgeable of how the system works and very focussed.  She plays to win, her only goal to increase her colour level and social status within society.  Martin, however, is tired of the game, happy to stay in Green but concerned his score is currently in freefall.  He is struggling.

The story, although central to these two characters who are at different ends of their game, also shows the bigger picture. Here we have a world where people are pitched against each other.. One man’s rise means another man’s downfall. At the end of the day if being  a winner is to the detriment of someone else – can your conscience live with this?  Or has the system conditioned you not to care?

I would like to thank the author for providing a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


Stephen Oram 1M

Like each and every one of us, my perspective of the world has been affected by many people and experiences: as a teenager I was heavily influenced by the ethos of punk; in my early twenties I embraced the squatter scene and then joined a religious cult, briefly; I did some computer stuff in what became London’s silicon roundabout; and I’m now a civil servant with a gentle attraction to anarchism. I really enjoy taking a sideways look at our world and thinking, “what if,” and then writing about it through speculative fiction.


Ecopy of the book x 2

Open Internationally


Posted in Writing


Today I have editor Elaine Denning in the spotlight, talking about her likes, dislikes, virtual dinner guests and her passion for editing…


Firstly, tell us a little bit about you…

 Ah! The dreaded question! Well, I’m  on the wrong side of forty and live with two mad cats and a wonderful lodger called Martin, a stone’s throw from the south coast in Devon. My son, Dan, is 26 and the best thing that ever happened to me. I have a passion for everything creative – art, photography, music, theatre, and writing. I love German wine, oozy pasta sauces, and being barefoot. I hate spiders, celery, and people who drain their cutlery the wrong way around. Martin says the worst thing about me is that I drain my cutlery the wrong way around.

What brought you into the editing world?

A few years ago when a good friend of mine was blogging his experiences of an absolutely horrific time he spent on holiday in Spain, I encouraged him to self-publish a book about it, which I edited for him.  I’ve always been an avid reader, writer, and (shamefully) a grammar Nazi, so you could say that the passion to be in this line of work has always been with me. At first I started working as a copywriter and editor part-time, squeezing it in at the end of my day, but then I took the leap, left my job, and set up my own business. I haven’t looked back.

What is a typical day for you…if there is one…

 It usually involves a mug or two of black, decaf coffee, whilst checking emails and getting my Facebook fix before I start work.  I’m usually in full editing flow by eight and finish by four, although sometimes there are interruptions (neighbours visiting, phone calls, cats wanting belly rubs). The hardest thing about working from home is trying to convince people that I do, actually, have a job to do! If my day has too many interruptions I’ll have an early night and will be up and at it by three the following morning. That’s the best time for me – when the whole world is asleep and I can completely immerse myself in my work. In the evenings I like to sit in the garden, read a book, drink some wine, listen to some music, and generally chill out. My life isn’t very exciting these days but it makes me happy.

Who is your favourite author and why?

 I don’t have a favourite author but I certainly have my eye on Tony Parsons again after his decision to venture into crime writing. I loved the emotional power of Man and Boy, love the way he structures sentences, and how he gets away with breaking the rules by doing a whole lot of ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’.  (I do admire authors who aren’t scared of breaking the rules.) Dorothy Koomson is another author who, in my opinion, is an expert at writing page-turners. I’ve enjoyed all of her books.

If you were to contemplate writing a book which genre would you choose and why?

I have several unfinished manuscripts tucked away in the bowels of my laptop but have no desire to revisit them. Editing really does satisfy the need in me to be immersed in words, so the fact they belong to someone else is irrelevant.  However, if I had the urge to embark on a writing career, my first book would be a psychological thriller. I love the tension and suspense, plot twists, and feeling slightly anxious and unsure of things when I’m reading books in that genre. I studied psychology for a year with the Open University and am fascinated by people and why they do the things they do. I’ve watched more documentaries about psychopaths than I care to admit!

If you were holding a dinner party and could invite four guests, who would they be and why?

My family, obviously, but that’s not a very interesting answer! So, leaving them aside, my first guest would be Jesus, just to see if he actually showed up. If he did, I’d have some serious re-thinking to do.  My second guest would be David Blaine because if Jesus actually succeeded in turning my tap water into wine, I’m sure David would say “I can do that, mate” and then we’d have twice as much to drink.  I’d need someone who could entertain us with a song or two, so Freddie Mercury would fit the bill nicely. (Also, I’d like to see if Jesus would actually leave the table if he was sharing it with a gay man.)  My last guest would be Peter Kaye because he makes me laugh and I think he’d help me with the dishes.

Catch up with Elaine on her website:  or on

Posted in Writing


The Last Gatekeeper Tour Banner

Zan knows she’s different. Today she discovers why …

Zanzibar MacKenzie knows she’s a freak. She has EHS – electrical hypersensitivity – which leaves her trying to live a Stone Age life in the twenty-first century: no internet, no phone, no point really. Then Thanriel knocks on her door and the dull summer holiday becomes maybe too exciting. Zan discovers fairies and angels are real beings from other planets, she herself is half alien, and the future of life on Earth rests on her shoulders.

This book is the first of the Chronicles of Fane series.


The story begins on Zan Mackenzie’s  seventeenth birthday when after a row with her mother, her father allows her to slip away to the beach to meet her friend Em and her boyfriend Jamie. On her return she finds her father unconscious and her mother missing and is confronted by the mysterious, otherworldly Thanriel  (an angel) who explains that like her mother, she is a fane, or fairy. She is also a Gatekeeper and he has come to  help her use her powers to save the world from destruction.  Her task is to close the three gates between the Fane’s world and earth.

This amazing book, written from Zan’s viewpoint, deals with so many different issues.  Firstly there is the classic battle between good and evil.  Then there is Zan herself; young, inexperienced and trying to cope with so many fresh challenges in her life –  her newly discovered  fane powers, her developing attraction to Thanriel and, of course, the responsibility for saving the world.  I was hooked from page one and really loved Zan’s character – she’s smart and feisty and of course, the gorgeous Thanriel leaves you  breathless.  By the time I had finished, all I could think about was what was going to happen to Zan and Thanriel in the next book.  A very worthy five star read with great potential as a movie!

I would like to thank the author for donating a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and  unbiased review


Kindle ebook




Katy Haye spends as much time as possible in either her own or someone else’s imaginary worlds. She has a fearsome green tea habit, a partiality for dark chocolate brazils and a fascination with the science of storytelling.

When not lost in a good book, Katy may be found on her allotment growing veg and keeping hens in order to maximise her chances of survival in the event of a zombie apocalypse or similar catastrophe (you never know!).

Connect on Twitter @katyhaye, or make friends on Goodreads at

Website: and Blog on reading/writing



1 signed paperback copy of the book. Open internationally