Category Archives: Books

A New Collection from Author James Smith

After whetting your appetite with my freebie over the weekend, today I’ve invited author James Smith onto the blog to talk about his new short story collection – The Shoe Box (cool name). I worked with James and a host of other talented authors on a collection called A Festive Feast in 2012. This was to raise money for Cancer Research, and included an exclusive short story by yours truly: Extravagant Promises. I asked James about the market for short fiction, and invited him to tell us a bit more about his own collection. Over to you, James …

A Festive Feast

“Hi Joanne and I can’t thank you enough for hosting me – it’s scary (and exciting) releasing your first book, so it is fantastic to know that there is such amazing support out there.

I think there has been a real upturn in the interest for shorter works (flash fiction, short stories and novellas). A quick search for ‘short stories’ on Amazon returns almost 111,000 thousand ebooks. The titles indicate a massive range of genres being catered for – in my experience short stories were restricted to women’s magazines and comics – now we have romance, crime, thrillers, horror, erotica and action/adventure short stories all being produced. So there really is something for everybody out there. I also think that the biggest indicator that shorter works are becoming popular again is the fact that international best-selling authors are writing them to support/enhance their novels.

Personally, I have always been a fan of short stories. They allow you to experience something new in a relatively short space of time. With our ‘modern’ busy lives, being able to read a complete story whilst travelling to work or grabbing that much needed cup of tea I believe really enriches our lives. Another huge bonus – thanks to self publishing on electronic devices (which is incredibly simple. Just upload your manuscript and tick a few boxes. OK there is a little bit more to it than that, but I could not believe how easy it was) these books are relatively inexpensive, so as a reader you CAN take a chance on that new author or genre.

As a writer, I really enjoy producing short stories for a number of reasons.  Most importantly, for me anyway, is the sense of completion. You can easily go from initial concept to a fully edited piece in a week – writing a novel (which I am also attempting to do) takes a lot longer.  Secondly, you can experiment with different genres and writing styles, which is a great deal of fun and even if the end product is complete nonsense (and I have produced some utter nonsense) you have only invested a relatively short amount of time into it – so sending it to the recycle bin is not as sickening as it could be.

So, after just over 18 months of writing (I’m a full time secondary school science teacher and father of three boys, so time is a limited commodity), I am proud to be able to share with you my first collection of contemporary short stories – The Shoe Box.

shoe box

The title is a bit of a self indulgence – my first short story to be accepted by an editor onto their website (but never sold, so no-one has read it until now) is the first story in this collection – New Shoes.  I thought that it would be an idea to pay homage to this story by giving all the other stories a foot/shoe related title and then boxing them all together. The five stories examine the human ability to deal with adversity, maintain that special spark and our obsession with competition and celebrity.

Someone once described short story collections as ‘a box of chocolates’ (could that have been you, Jo?) and I believe this collection neatly fits that description. There is variety in the stories and I hope that everyone finds something in there that they like (let me know on Twitter @James_Sm1th when you do!)

The Shoe Box: A Collection of Short Stories is available to buy from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Author picJames Smith has been making up stories for as long as he can remember, but only recently decided to write them down. He was born and bred in Derbyshire, before moving to Newcastle Upon Tyne to complete a degree in Genetics. He still lives and works in the North East, having refused to move away from the area. He is currently a Secondary School Science Teacher and spends his days attempting to enlighten 11-18 year olds about the wonders of science. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it…he would write a series about his experiences, but is afraid no one would believe him.
Connect with James on Twitter @James_Sm1th

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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

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!



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Another FREE Book!

Two weeks to go until the launch of Cupid’s Way, and to get any new readers in the mood I’m giving away The Family Trap for FREE this weekend.

The Family Trap cover

I think this is my best-received novel to date – it has fantastic reviews, both here in the UK and in the US, and last weekend it was longlisted for the SpaSpa Awards …

Indie Book Bargains

which was amazing. The Family Trap is, of course, a sequel to my debut novel, Can’t Live Without, but it works perfectly well as a stand-alone. One of my favourite elements of this book is the octogenarian romance in the care home where Stella works – it brings tears to my eyes every time I read it!

“There are moments in life that define you – moments from which entire futures are carved out, where you can practically see the universe split into two.” 

Becoming a grandmother at thirty-eight may not be ideal, but Stella Hill can cope – just about – because in two weeks’ time she’s getting married to the love of her life. She’s waited over twenty years to finally get her man; Paul Smart is her destiny, her soul mate.

But when Stella finds out she’s pregnant – a pregnancy that’s unplanned and unexpected, not to mention inconvenient – she takes it in her stride. Marriage, baby, new adventures on the horizon. It’s not a problem. At least, not for her.

Just how do you break the news of a baby on the eve of your wedding? And what can you do if your plans turn out to be wildly different from the plans of the one you love? As Stella’s dream wedding turns into a nightmare, she learns that sometimes the people we love don’t react the way we thought they would.
And maybe sometimes love means letting go.


As always, please download and share – this will be my last Freebie for a while, as most of my titles are coming out of KDP Select now. The blog will be a bit quieter next week while I dig in and prepare for THE LAUNCH! (I’m very excited about that, as you can probably tell.) ;)


Filed under Books, The Family Trap