A Life Unpredicted is FREE This Weekend

To celebrate the brand new gorgeous cover for A Life Unpredicted and other stories, I’ve set the price to free for this weekend only.


This collection of 10 short stories has over 20 4&5 star reviews on Amazon and is described as: “An emotionally satisfying collection of short stories, dealing with love and loss and some darker themes” by bestselling author Celina Grace. I’d love to use this free promotion to reach out to new readers so please download and share as widely as possible. Short stories don’t generally do as well as novels in free promos, but let’s see if we can get a couple of hundred downloads – that would be awesome!

Click here to download your copy for free right now :) x


Filed under Books, Marketing & Promotion

How To Write An Ebook Series by Cathy Bramley

Today I’m handing my blog over to bestselling author Cathy Bramley. Cathy is the hard-working, super-talented author behind the phenomenally successful Ivy Lane series, currently occupying top spots on Amazon. Find out what it takes to write an ebook series, then ask Cathy any questions via the comments box below. Over to you, Cathy …

Cathy Bramley Profile pic lo

My Ebook Series – Ivy Lane

The lovely Jo has invited me to talk about my ebook series Ivy Lane which is being published in four parts throughout this year. It follows the journey of a young woman, Tilly Parker and her first year on her allotment. It’s a light-hearted, feel-good story with plenty of smiles and quite a few tears along the way.

It would never have occurred to me to write a serial, had I not been asked by Transworld Books to do so. Up until that point, I hadn’t even noticed the trend towards releasing books as serials. There are oodles of them this year: some simply novels split into chunks and released every couple of weeks and others designed specifically as a printed version of a soap-opera.

All 4 covers - Ivy Lane

I suggested to my editor that we followed the seasons and released each part in its correct season. Next spring we will be releasing the complete story, with all four parts as a paperback.

When I began plotting the book, I was very conscious of the reader and what their experience would be when reading Ivy Lane. I didn’t want them to get to the end of part one and think, ‘oh, what a nice story.’ I wanted them to be intrigued and wonder what happens next and speculate as to what Tilly’s secret might be.

In short I suppose, I wanted to end each part on a bit of a cliff-hanger so that readers are chomping at the bit until the next part is released. So far it seems to be working and the feedback has been fabulous. In fact, last weekend one particular blogger was threatening to drive over and try and bribe me to find out what happens next!

I realised that in order to do this I would have to write each separate part not only as a stand-alone short story but also as part of a bigger story arc to carry through the whole novel.

So each part has a three act structure which fits into an even bigger overarching three act structure.

I was a bit daunted by this at first, but then remembered a session I had been to at the Writer’s Workshop Festival of Writing last year run by best-selling author Julie Cohen. (Julie runs a lot of workshops and if you ever get chance to attend one – do!)

She demonstrated how to use the three act structure to plan your novel by following the format of Disney Pixar’s film Cars. I plotted out the events of each part of Ivy Lane, making sure that there was enough conflict and build-up of tension throughout the story. I then did the same for the whole novel. The only difference for me was that at the end of parts one, two and three; instead of a resolution, there is a partial resolution and cliff-hanger ending to keep the reader guessing about what happens next.

I enjoyed writing the Ivy Lane series so much that it ended up being the fastest book I’ve ever written and I finished the first draft in ten weeks. It’s also quite addictive – I’m now in the middle of a new series for next year and have got an idea for a third!

Ivy Lane Spring and Ivy Lane Summer are now available and Ivy Lane Autumn will be available on 4 September on Amazon, iBooks and Kobo.

My links:



Twitter @CathyBramley

Thanks Cathy! For anyone who wants to know more about the 3 Act Structure, Julie Cohen runs fantastic courses for writers and you can find out more about them here. Jo x


Filed under Writing

Have You Heard About Future Learn?

Today I start a new online course called Talk The Talk – it’s all about giving presentations and talks and is run by the Open University. The brilliant thing about this six week course is: it’s absolutely free!

future learn

When I was checking out the range of courses on the Future Learn website it occurred to me what a fantastic resource this is for writers. There are courses on topics as diverse as science, medicine, history, geography and business – along with journalism, creative writing and English. For research purposes, some of these courses look fantastic! I’ve already signed up for Web science: how the web is changing the world (fascinating!), Psychology and mental health, and Shakespeare and his world. You get to study in your own time, there’s a certificate of completion at the end, and did I mention the courses are free? :)

Well, you know I’m a learning junkie, so of course I couldn’t resist. For budding writers there is the excellent Start Writing Fiction as well, similar to the 10 credit Open University module I studied a while back – this was a brilliant course. You learn through a combination of videos and text, and interact with other students and tutors via forums. Right, off to get started on Talk The Talk now :) I’m determined to master those nerves one day!


Filed under Public Speaking, Writing

A New Look For A Life Unpredicted

I released my first collection of short stories back in 2012, wanting to offer something else for readers while working on the follow up to Can’t Live Without. The collection has been well received by readers, gaining some great reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, but recently, when I looked at the six titles I now have available on Amazon, I realised that the cover of A Life Unpredicted didn’t ‘fit’ with my contemporary look. It was a little bleak, and didn’t really reflect the mood of the stories contained within.

I made a quick call to my ace cover designer and a few days later a brand new cover arrived …

GIRL_SITTING_V2I love it! Eagle-eyed readers who have been on this journey with me for a long time may recognise this image from a former incarnation of Can’t Live Without – I always loved the picture and I’m so glad I’ve been able to use it for one of my books.

If you haven’t read it yet, A Life Unpredicted and other stories is available on Amazon for only 77p/99c. Here is the blurb:

Love, loss, joy, regret and the perils of parenting – all these themes and more are explored, touchingly and bravely, in this collection of ten short stories, including:

A Life Unpredicted – The key to your future might be hidden in the past … Shortlisted for the Grace Dieu Short Story competition.

Parenting Class – “‘You need help,’ Gina had said, ‘and I know just the place.’ Gina was my social worker, and the place was Parenting Class, Tuesday afternoons, free to those desperate enough to need it.”

One To Keep – A story for everyone who’s ever made – or broken – a new year’s resolution.

“This new volume contains all the hallmarks of her novels: sensitive observation, eloquent phraseology, a kind heart, a quick intelligence and a generous nature.” Debbie Young, author

“Ms Phillips’ writing is spare and direct, with scarcely a word wasted. This is just how short pieces should be written.” John Dolan

My cover designer and I are also in the process of redesigning the cover for my Flora Lively series, ready for the release of the audio book of Murder at the Maples. Watch out for news of that very soon!



Filed under Books