Posted in Writing

Tuesday Talk catches up with reviewer Kaisha Holloway as she talks about her love of books, favourite authors and some interesting dinner guests…

PicGood morning Kaisha and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hi Jo, thank you so much for having me on your blog today! Of course! As you know already, I’m Kaisha, which just happens to be the sort of name which you DO NOT find on souvenirs in a shop. Sob. I’m 27 years old and I have a three year old daughter called, Eva. I have been a single mum since I found out that I was pregnant so my ‘job’ is to look after her, and hopefully find a freelance/remote job in this industry! Oh, and I waffle on, sorry!

When did you decide to start your blog The Writing Garnet and what prompted that decision?

I have had my nose in books from the moment that I could read. Books have always been my ‘escape’ and when I became more ill the need to ‘escape’ became more persistent. One day I googled blogs as I wanted to find out if I could actually do it before I attached myself to the idea. It seemed straight forward enough and so on the 15th March 2016, The Writing Garnet was born!

What genre do you enjoy best?

Super tough question! I may waffle even though it’s a simple question ha-ha. I used to be a chic-lit buff in my teens, always stuck to the same sort of genre. But, as I grew up, genres such as psychological thrillers, contemporary fiction, and historical fiction decided to join chic-lit. So, in answer to your question, all four genres I have mentioned above are ones I enjoy on the same level.

You read an enormous number of books and I gather you’re able to do this because you speed read. Where did you learn to do this?

Fabulous question! Yes, that is the case. Erm, I don’t actually think I learnt how to do it anywhere as such. I have never known myself NOT to speed read, if that makes sense. Nobody believed me when I was a teen and I used to say that I was able to speed read, so I had my mum test me to show people that I actually retained the information in the book!

Have you ever been tempted to write a novel?

I have, yes. When I was 14 I sent Random House a story on note paper that I had hand written, completely oblivious to the process! I did get a reply from them saying that I was to keep on writing, which was so lovely of them. 13 years later and I still have zilch confidence to finally take the plunge. Although, I am wanting to write a non-fiction book about several issues I have been through and are going through, purely to raise awareness for other people. I just need to….do it.

Who are your favourite authors?

Tough one! I have LOADS! Let’s see, Sue Watson, Darcie Boleyn, Sam Carrington, KL Slater, Miranda Dickinson, Trisha Ashley, Cathy Bramley, Carole Matthews, Lisa Dickenson, Sue Fortin, Liane Moriarty, Kitty French, Kerry Fisher, Cathy Glass, Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Cassidy, Carol Wyer, Heidi Swain & Diane Jeffrey to name a few. I do have a lot more but the list would go on, and on, and on lol.

And lastly, you are organising a dinner party and can invite four guests. They can be real or fictitious. Who would you choose and why?

Oh good question! Yet another toughie. I would choose Alice Rose from Trisha Ashley’s ‘The Little Teashop of Lost and Found‘, because she is such an incredible character to read about. She’s tough, sassy, absolutely hilarious and very memorable. I adored her.

Maggie O’Hara from Emma Heatherington’s ‘The Legacy of Lucy Harte‘, because she was such a mesmerising and humble character throughout the entire novel. I would love to be able to truly get to know the real her, although I probably would get very, very emotional!

My next guest, I hope this is allowed, would be Nelson Mandela. For some unknown reason, he has always found a way into my soul with his story, his words and energy. Like a lot of people, I was devastated when he passed away. For as long as I can remember, I have always looked up to him and his story hit home in more ways than one. Incredible man.

Lastly, I hope this one is allowed too, Emmeline Pankhurst. I probably sound like THE geekiest person ever now but never mind! Many moons ago, I had to do a home-school project on the Suffragette’s and I was absolutely blown away by the amount of courage that she, and the rest of the ladies, had. I would love to be able to sit down with her and find out why? How? just everything. Incredible woman.



Twitter: @kaishajayneh
Instagram: @Thewritinggarnet


Posted in Publicists, Reviewing, TUESDAY TALK, Writing

Tuesday Talk welcomes Maxine Groves to chat about her busy life as a publicist and desert island ‘must haves’…

Maxine Groves Photo Oct 2016Good morning Maxine and welcome. 

Hello Jo and thanks so much for having me on your blog, lovely to be here.
You began as a reviewer, how did you develop your business and what services do you offer potential clients?

As I became more popular as a reviewer I found myself in touch with a lot of fantastic indie and published authors who would request me to review their book. From this I was doing a lot of promotion and publicity for their books for free. A brilliant author contacted me and asked me if I would do some book publicity work for him which I did and it went really well, as word got out a few more known authors asked me to help them. I then decided to birth Booklover Catlady Publicity, seeing a gap in the market for cost-effective, trackable and flexible services.

I can offer bespoke publicity services to authors, that’s the wonderful thing about it being my own business, essentially if I am capable of doing it – I will!

My popular services include review generation where my VIP team of reviewers and bloggers will read and post reviews for authors looking for more visibility on Goodreads, Amazon, book blogs and across social media.

I love doing the online cover reveal, pre-purchase and book launch parties on Facebook that have become really popular with both authors and book lovers. They are fast-paced, fun and focused on outcomes for both the author and event attendees.

I also do professional beta reading which comes with an in-depth report, vote generation campaigns for books in the Kindle Scout Program or for Thunderclap.  Offered also is referrals to service providers such as Editors and Cover Designers where authors then get discounted prices. I also recommend and match authors to publishing houses should they be looking to submit a manuscript.

When a book needs a sales push I offer a social media blitz campaign – fully tracked so I can provide exact data to clients. I often consult with a new client on what services best suit their goals and design an individual publicity campaign just for them.

If a new author needs consultation on how to use social media or how best to reach out to reviewers I can do email and phone consultations. I cover all genres of books and currently also provide services to a number of publishing firms.

This year I have launched my book blog tour services which are already proving really popular.

Business growth has been phenomenal since launch in June 2015 and 99% of clients come to me via referral so I am really proud of my reputation. My clientele are worldwide.

You’re currently in the process of writing your first novel. Can you tell us something about that?

I am so exited to be finally writing, it’s thanks to the fantastic authors that I have helped with their books and the friendships I have with many of them that has given me the courage to finally take the plunge.

My first book will be a collection of short stories that are a mix of horror and dark psychological fiction. I am also working on a dark psychological thriller with a crime slant and twisty bits which I am really excited about.

As I get quite eclectic ideas I am also writing a series of children’s picture books, aimed at children 3-5 years of age with a brilliant children’s illustrator. The books will feature my two cheeky, naughty Burmese cats – Toddy and Riley and their crazy adventures. Talking cats, what more could you want really?

City or Beach? Name two of your favourite chill out destinations.

Ooh, that’s a great question. I have lived in the UK, Australia and Ireland in cities and near beaches. I lived at the famous Bondi Beach in Australia for many years. I recently went on holiday to Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands and absolutely loved it – so as a beach location that would be a top pick.

I also love the buzz of the city and one of my favourite cities in the world is Melbourne in Australia. I’d encourage anybody who is going to Oz for a holiday to make sure Melbourne is included. Incredibly cosmopolitan! India is on my bucket list of countries to see before I die.

Is there any author you would particularly like to meet?

It would mean a lot to me to meet horror and thriller writer J.D. Barker as he is not only an amazing author but has been so instrumental and supportive in helping my career to date. Other authors on that list would be British author Belinda Bauer, horror author Adam Nevill and crime author Sarah Hilary.

You’re taking yourself off to a desert island for a year. Which four ‘must haves’ would you take with you and why?

  1. My Kindle or a stack of paperbacks – simply because books are my entire world.
  2. Some good sunblock lotion as I am very pale and burn easily! (Vampire pale)
  3. A really big tent because I don’t fancy sleeping in the open for a whole year. Ideally with a blow up bed and colour coordinated linen. You have to have good linen!
  4. A boat, a large one in case I wanted to get off the island early.


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I would like to offer a 10% discount to any author off any of my services for those that contact me after reading this blog interview and mentioning the code BLOG10.

Posted in General

And now for something completely different…

I have to confess my inner magpie never allows me to pass a jewellers without stopping to look in the window, if only for a brief moment.  I love and appreciate beautiful pieces, whether they are rings, bracelets, pendants or necklaces.  When I arrived in Bath in the mid-1980’s, Christopher Milton Stevens’ jewellers had one of those windows where I often lingered.  And sometimes I’d make a purchase.  Now he runs a bespoke jewellery design service from his home. Some time ago I visited his studio with a commission for him: to transform three existing unloved and unworn rings into two completely new designs. I was absolutely delighted with the result but more than that, fascinated by the whole process.  I asked Chris if he would allow me to interview him and was delighted when he agreed. As  I felt I’d be a little out of my depth setting the right questions, his daughter Emilie agreed to help.  My thanks to her for all her hard work in organising the questions and photos for this  blog interview…



Tell us about yourself, judging by that photograph you haven’t always been in the jewellery trade.

I grew up in Wiltshire. The photo shows me ready for my role as a Naval Marine Engineering Mechanic which I began at the age of 15. I trained in Plymouth and was then drafted to HMS Intrepid in Singapore. A year or so into my training, my CPO suggested I left the Navy to finish my education and re-join as an officer. I took his advice and did so, except along the way discovered an alternative use for metal – Jewellery.

My mother volunteered me as an apprentice with Graham Watling a Silversmith in Lacock.

Hand raising coffee pots and making silver jewellery seemed surprisingly straightforward and I was hooked from then on. My early commissions were varied and challenging, but the most unusual was a chastity belt in silver! Lacock was a time for design experimentation and I spent years perfecting techniques to develop a unique style.

CMS Shop

As the 70’s came to a close I knew it was time to branch out of Lacock’s rural idylls and in 1979, aged 23, I prepared to open my first shop in Bath. It took 8 months: I took the roof off the building, replaced the plumbing & electrics, made the cabinets and then I made the jewellery to sell. Silver jewellery featured, as did belt buckles, walking stick handles and trophies. My luxury belt buckles were sold in Harrods – far from their humble origination in Lacock. During the mid 1980’s I opened my second shop on New Bond Street and so began the 80’s high life.


CMS CabinSince 2007 I have been conducting business from my ‘Studio’ or (Chalet when it snows). My commissions continue to vary, from engagement rings to dress rings. My customers from the shop days are now accustomed to the comfort of the Studio (and its coffee).

From Shop to Studio that seems quite a dramatic change, what were the reasons behind the move?

Historically the jewellery industry has been a stock heavy business model, with customers choosing a ring off the shelf. Commissioning a piece of jewellery was seen as unattainable to most. However, the jewellery industry has entered a new era and as with many other consumer sectors, technology and personalisation have been significant driving factors.
The rise in demand for bespoke jewellery, designed to client specifications, requires a flexible and innovative set up. Technology advances in the design process, such as CAD (Computer Aided Design), enables me to create designs based on each client’s ideas. I am able to show my customers rendered designs that are photographic. The shop shelf is now digital – you can see exactly what you are getting at an early stage in the process and we can make amendments with ease. My studio gives me this flexibility, as soon as a client walks through the door we can begin designing whether it be for surprise engagement rings or heirloom remodelling.

I have been lucky enough to take part in the CMS Jewellers experience but for our readers please could you share some of the details?

CMS_CADThe first step is the design brief where I discuss with the customer their ideas, occasion, timeframe and budget. Sometimes we start from scratch or adapt existing designs customers have seen in magazines or online. I then create a range of designs using CAD to start to bring to life our discussion and design options.

Once the design has been agreed I create a wax model – allowing the customer to try on the design and make any final alterations. In some cases the wax model has actually been the ring used in a proposal, giving the bride-to-be involvement with the final design.

A new wax model is created and then sent to my casting company who use 3D printing technology to create the real piece. It is then hallmarked and returned to me ready for finishing. This involves taking off the casting sprues, fettling, polishing and finally setting. Setting is an incredibly specialist skill, I send each piece to my setter, who is one of the very few that can deliver the high standard required. I conduct a final polish and valuation before, my favourite part, presenting to the customer.

Final Polish


Wow, that’s quite a process and do you think unique in the fact the customer is so involved in the design process?


Customer design involvement has always been central to my bespoke design process. Not only does it make the whole experience more memorable and fun, my customers enjoy learning about Diamonds and gemstones and how to choose the right metals to compliment. I explain diamonds and gemstones in a way that enables you to make your own decision. We will look at real gems under magnification so you can see for yourself how grading works. Being part of the design process adds thought and sentiment. Designed together, sounds good doesn’t it.

What have been some of your landmark pieces to date?

We have been discussing this and in my opinion all pieces are landmarks. A landmark, in my eyes, is about the journey and the provenance of the materials. Whether an engagement ring or anniversary gift, the joint design process we undertake is unique, customer’s ideas are central and the result is a piece of jewellery exclusive and personal to them. I love the fact that I deliver joy and lasting mementoes of a special moment in people’s lives. Here is a necklet I made last summer, for the Mother of the Groom on the big day. The magnificent 11ct pink tourmaline is surrounded with 28 brilliant cut diamonds, with a cabochon pink tourmaline finial and in my Liberty style setting. Quite a show stopper!


Finally, must ask, what is your favourite gemstone?

Gemstones are the stones of 2017 in my eyes. Unique in terms of colour, shape and grandeur I believe they are the unsung heroes of Jewellery. In 2016 I launched my Liberty collection which is centred on coloured gemstones. Why Liberty? For me, Liberty means wearing jewellery which is bold, unafraid to make a statement and independent of the status quo. Each design in the collection is unique and based upon the gemstone in question. Upon discovered a dazzling gemstone, I then start to think what design could best show it off. This short video shows some of my recent work using coloured gemstones. (Hyperlink)

Contact details: / / 01225 840976

Posted in Writing

Today Tuesday Talk is with blogger Sharon Wilden talking about her love of books and favourite authors…

MeGood morning Sharon and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me Jo. I’m Sharon, 46 and have lived in Salisbury for the last 20+ years. My dad was in the army so we lived in Northern Ireland and Germany before moving to Wiltshire.

Sadly I’ve never married or had kids which is one of my biggest regrets but fortunately I live vicariously through my friends and their kids so get the best of both worlds, enjoy spending time together but then can go home for peace and quiet 🙂

I’ve been in the same job since I left school at 18 which is working in a technical department in the Life & Pensions Insurance industry. My job was under the threat of redundancy for quite some time, almost 4 years, but we’ve recently moved into a smaller office so seems a bit more stable… for now! Although it’s no longer the job I once loved, it pays the mortgage/bills and we have flexible working I can finish work early and travel to book events.

When did you decide to start a blog and what prompted that decision?

Every time I get asked this question it makes me realise how long I have been blogging as it feels like only yesterday I set it up but was actually back in October 2011.. so almost 5.5 years!
I was going through some issues at the time so a friend recommend I set up the blog as something for me to distract myself as she knew how much I loved reading, and also a way to keep a record of the books I read. I started out just reviewing books I’d bought or won in Goodreads or Twitter giveaways but over time I’ve been fortunate to have been contacted by publishers and authors alike offering me a variety of fantastic books to review.

What type of read do you enjoy best?

If you’d asked me this question 12-18 months ago I would have said that I mainly read romcom, contemporary or historical sagas, but my reading tastes are definitely veering more to the dark side nowadays as most of my current reading TBR is psychological thrillers or crime fiction.

Have you ever been tempted to write a novel?

No, I know my limitations. I struggle enough writing 500 words reviews that I think readers might be interested in reading let alone the thought (or discipline) of writing a 100,000 novel.
Believe or not I actually failed my English Language ‘O’ Level the first time, although I did pass English Literature, which everyone always thinks strange because I’ve always been a reader and bookworm. But as much as I enjoy reading other people’s words I’ve always had a problem articulating into words what I felt about books.

Who are your favourite authors?

Aaargh… that’s like asking a parent who their favourite child is I wouldn’t want to offendMe with Jilll Mansell anyone.
I have many go-to authors whose books I add to my reading piles no matter how books I already have and have no idea when I’ll get to read them… JoJo Moyes, Jill Mansell, Milly Johnson, Paige Toon, Diane Chamberlain, Jodi Picoult, Linda Castillo, Sheila O’Flanagan, Zoe Miller, and Emma Hannigan to name just a few. But as I’ve been bitten by the crime bug recently I have just added the back catalogues of Jane Casey, Kate Rhodes and Mari Hannah to my TBR…. so just need to magic up another 24 hours in a day to read them all!

And lastly, you have been selected to take part in ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here. Who would be your ideal fellow contestants and why?

Well top of the list would have to be Idris Elba, well you have to have someone nice to look at 🙂
I think we’d also need to have a comedian or two to make us laugh so how about Eddie Izzard and Sarah Millican.
And finally we’d need a chef to teach us how to cook with the basics so how about Gino D’Acampo.




Posted in Writing

Tuesday Talk welcomes multi-talented Sue Featherstone to chat about her career, writing and a very different collection of dinner party guests…

sue-1Good morning Sue and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

I never really know how to answer that question – who am I?

The short answer is lots of different people. The long answer depends on who’s doing the asking.

My eldest daughter once described me as a swan, paddling serenely along the river of life. I replied that I was more like a duck, frantically paddling to stay afloat, but doing my best to try and make it look easy.

Professionally, I’m a journalist and writer – I worked in local newspapers, before moving into PR and then doing a degree as a mature student at Bretton Hall, University of Leeds. When I started my degree (after taking voluntary redundancy from my PR job), my youngest daughter had just started primary school. She used to tell people that we were both in reception class.

I’m very proud to say that I graduated with a First in English Literature. It was hard work but I loved every minute of it.

More recently, I’ve taught journalism at Sheffield Hallam University – which was probably the best job in the world until I went down with a severe dose of the writing bug, which, at the beginning of this year, forced me to swap academia for a new life as an author.

And that’s where I am right now: first novel, written with my marvellous writing partner Susan Pape, published and second almost finished.

I’m a very lucky woman. And I thank God for my good fortune every single day.

How did your writing journey begin?

I started scribbling stories as a little girl and only stopped when I left school and got my first job as a trainee reporter on a small local newspaper. I guess writing factual news stories and features scratched my writing itch.
I feel lucky to have been able to spend my working life doing the thing I love best – and, as a journalist, and later a PR practitioner, I’ve met lots of really lovely people and been privileged to have been allowed a peep into their lives.

What promoted you to collaborate with Susan Pape to write ‘A Fallen Friend’?

Susan and I have been collaborating for more than a quarter of a century: we were job share partners in the PR department of a former public utility company and worked together for about six years before taking voluntary redundancy.

We kept in touch and both eventually ended up doing degrees in English Literature and then going on to teach journalism – me at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity. Over lunch one day we were both bemoaning the absence of a practical, how-to-write-like-a-journalist text book – and decided to write one ourselves. Both that book, Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction, and its sequel, Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction, are still on the reading lists for university journalism courses throughout the UK.
After the second text book, we thought it would be fun to write a novel. It was fun but it took us eight years of juggling work, home and family responsibilities to finish A Falling Friend, which was published by Lakewater Press in April 2016.

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

We’re putting the finishing touches to a sequel to A Falling Friend – we’d planned to do something completely different but so many people asked: ‘What happens next?’ that we decided we needed to find out. We’re hoping it will be published some time during the summer. Perfect reading for the beach.

Beach or City? Where is your favourite chill out destination?

I like to be beside the seaside – there’s something about the wind on your face that makes me really happy. But I couldn’t spend a whole holiday sitting on the beach – I like to walk and swim and cycle too and then come back to our holiday accommodation for a cold glass of dry white wine. Cheers!

And lastly, you’re organising a dinner party. Which four famous people (alive or dead) would you invite as guests and why?

I don’t think I’d want anybody famous as a guest at my house – and certainly not four of them at once. Can you imagine the clash of egos?
Instead, since you’ve kindly said, I can invite people who are now dead, I’m going to plump for four women writers who I hope would be so impressed with modern technology they’d overlook my less than perfect housekeeping.
They are: Mary Wollstencroft, one of the first feminists; Jane Austen, because she’s one of the best writers this country has ever produced; Mrs Beeton – perhaps she’d help with the cooking? And, last, but by no means least, Mrs Gaskell, a working mother, who showed readers that it wasn’t entirely ‘grim up north’.


sfSue Featherstone is a former journalist and public relations practitioner turned academic.
Her career started in local newspapers before switching to PR to become internal communications manager with a large utility company.
She completed a degree in English Literature as a mature student and subsequently moved into higher education, teaching journalism to undergraduate students at Sheffield Hallam University.
At the beginning of 2017, Sue left Sheffield Hallam to focus on her writing.


Together with her friend and writing partner Susan Pape, she has written two successful journalism text books – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction; and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction.

Their first novel, A Falling Friend, was published by Lakewater Press in 2016 and a sequel will follow in spring 2017.
They now write about books at bookloversbooklist.
Sue is on twitter @SueF_Writer


Whatever Teri says, whatever she does, it’s all leading her toward disaster. But she’s not a-falling-friend-coverone to heed a warning. What more can best mate Lee do? Besides, Lee’s got her own life to sort out.

A Falling Friend is the tale of two friends – one who always seems to make the wrong choices, and the other who’s always there to catch her.

After spending her twenties sailing the globe, making love on fine white sand, and thinking only of today, Teri Meyer returns to Yorkshire—and to studying. That’s when she discovers John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, and poet of all things depraved. What she doesn’t realise is even beyond his grave, his influence over her is extraordinary. To hell with the consequences.

Having gone out on a limb to get old friend Teri a job at the university at which she teaches, it doesn’t take long for Lee Harper to recognise a pattern. Wherever Teri goes, whatever she does, every selfish choice she makes, it’s all setting her up for a nasty fall. But Teri’s not the sort to heed a warning, so Lee has no choice but to stand by and watch. And besides, she has her own life to straighten out.

A clever, raw and hilarious character-driven masterpiece that follows the lives of two friends with the same ambitions, but who have vastly different ways of achieving them.
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