Joanne Phillips

A Writers Journey


Can’t Live Without

Why Every Story Needs A Touch Of Romance


Thrilled to be part of the indieBRAG bloghop this week – there’s a list of the other blog stops at the end – and if you haven’t heard of indieBRAG before, now is the time to get better acquainted. The team over at bragmedallion work super-hard for indie authors, and they’ve just unveiled a gorgeous new website, as well as a new rating system for books. But now, on with my special post …

Brag BlogHop

Why Every Story Needs A Touch Of Romance

It’s funny how the romance genre is one of the biggest selling genres in the world, and yet romantic novels are often looked down upon. They’re rarely taken seriously as literature – despite the fact that many of the classics were romances – and romance readers are frequently derided, often in quite subtle ways. But if you take another look, romance is actually EVERYWHERE in fiction. There is no such thing as a genre that does not have a romantic element.

No Such Thing As No Romance

You don’t believe me? It’s true. Take any popular genre and you’ll find romance running through it. Crime fiction? Absolutely. The sub-plot of most crime novels focuses on the love life (or lack of) of the crime-solving hero. Thrillers? Often the romance takes centre stage, with the thriller action revolving around saving the love interest of the hero, or connected in some way to, or affected by, an emotional entanglement. Science fiction … would be meaningless without a good romance to act as a counterpoint to the action. Mysteries, westerns, young adult, fantasy, military, etc – each and every type of novel is improved by having some kind of romantic element.

Does It Have To Be Love?

Of course, the type of romance – and the development of the romance itself – will change depending upon the type of story. It doesn’t have to be love. It can be desire, or unrequited love, or passion, or friendship, or deep mutual regard. It can be fireworks, sizzling hot, or it can be relegated to the sidelines of sub-plot, something to tick over in the background, keeping us interested, wondering what if …? It can be lost love, a maybe-love, forbidden love, marital disharmony, wishing-for-love, never-to-be-found-love. Quiet love over a cup of tea, or the kind of pairing that makes planets collide and saves worlds from destruction. It doesn’t matter what kind of love it is – it just has to be there.

Pure Romance

So do ‘pure romance novelists’ have it easy? I’ve read that the definition of a romance novel is that it is a novel where the plot is driven purely by the romance – by the hero and heroine pursuing their love-relationship – and not by any other plot line. This, of course, is debatable, but most pure romances do follow this fairly loosely. In other genres, even most women’s fiction, the romance is secondary – albeit a close second – to the main plot action. The Romantic Novelists’ Association (of which I am now a proud Independent Member) says: “The trouble with trying to define a romantic novel is that there are so many sub-genres. The words romantic novel cover an amazing variety.” I agree 100%.

So if love makes the world go round, do romance novelists have it easy? Well, it’s not easy – but we sure do have a lot of fun!


February 13  VL Thurman– Delilah Dunnfield the Valentine’s Vamp

February 14  C.L. Talmadge   A Touch of Romance

February 15  Janet Leigh   -Where art thou?

February 16 Lucinda Brant – Autumn Duchess

February 17   Anna Belfrage –The Consequences of eloping with your cousin

February 18      Joanne Phillips-Why Every Story Needs A Touch Of Romance

February 19      K.J. Farnham – Be Still My Heart

Prize & Giveaway

To win a copy of Can’t Live Without simply leave a comment below and I’ll pick a winner on February 29th and email you to arrange posting out your prize.

Can't Live Without cover final

Click on the indieBRAG Website to enter your chance to win a $20.00 Amazon Gift Card!

Each author is providing a print copy or e-book in the book giveaways, so be sure to visit their websites and comment on their post to enter a chance to win a copy of their book.


  • The chance to enter for the Prize and Giveaways ends February 26. The winner will be given a gift card from Amazon. The prize will be announced on the indieBRAG Website on February 29th. And each author will announce the winner for their giveaways on their sites on February 29.
  • You must be 18 years or Older to participate in the prize & Giveaway.
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize and giveaway or a new winner is chosen.





Couldn’t Live Without … those legs!

The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that the cover for Can’t Live Without has undergone yet another make-over: the infamous legs are back, although this time they’re brighter and the lettering is in keeping with the new look of the rest of the covers.

Last year I made the decision to rebrand, and ‘the legs’ were amongst the casualties, along with that gorgeous wedding dress on the cover of The Family Trap, and the cute bunting on the cover of Cupid’s Way. I blogged about the decision here, and it wasn’t an easy one. I was happy with the new look, and I do think the new covers are bold and bright and resonate with the readers I’m reaching out to.

But … there was something about the new cover for Can’t Live Without that didn’t quite work. Although lovely, and wistful and full of yearning, it didn’t scream ‘fun’ the way the blurb for the novel does – and therefore didn’t actually reflect accurately enough the content of the novel. In fact, the more I thought about it, nothing did justice to the content of the novel in quite the same way as those iconic legs from the original cover. So, in a very cheerful U-turn, I revamped the cover again, this time using the original image but giving it a cleaner, brighter feel. And I love the results …

Here is the old cover:

CLW cover small snipped

And here is the new, revamped version:

Can't Live Without cover final

You can see in the header above how well it fits in next to The Family Trap and the other novels, and although I loved the original – and still do, very much – I still feel it was important to have a brighter feel to all the books.

And it’s already earning its keep! Following a little bit of promotion of both this title and The Family Trap, Can’t Live Without jumped up into the top 100 bestseller categories this weekend, hitting number 56 in top-level category Romantic Comedy, and #33 in Humour:


CLW bestseller humour #33

It also did really well in the smaller category of Parenting & Family Humour, hitting the #3 spot:

CLW bestseller parenting & families #3

It doesn’t matter that this book has sold tens of thousands of copies – there are still plenty of readers who have yet to meet Stella, and I can’t wait to introduce her to them. It’s all systems go with the third book in the series – Growing Pains – this spring, and the great thing is, I already have the cover for that! So that’s one box ticked and one less job to do.

Just a reminder for anyone who hasn’t yet signed up to my newsletter – I’m currently giving away a free copy of Cupid’s Way to all my subscribers. Check out the box below for more information.

Newsletter sign up and free book

New look website and cover makeovers for all my books!

Today’s the day when I can reveal the new look for all my women’s fiction books, and also a new look for the website and blog. I’ve been working hard to bring a cohesive design to the covers of my novels, as well as making sure I’m pitching this design to speak to my target readers.

Publishing is an organic process, and since I first uploaded Can’t Live Without in May 2012 there have been many changes, both in the world of ebooks and also in my own writing and self-publishing journey. Each new book has taken me on a different path, and opened up exciting different options and opportunities. Inevitably you end up with a bit of a mish-mash of styles and designs. (I love the word mish-mash!) For a while now I’ve been desperate to bring it all together with a very particular look, and the release of Keeping Sam was the ideal opportunity to rebrand, relaunch and refresh.

Changing Can’t Live Without was hard, of course. That cover will always have a special place in my heart. It was my first and has been described as iconic by more than one person. But legs on covers are very dated now – it deserved a new look; it deserves to be introduced to a new readership. Stella Hill’s experience of losing everything she owns in a house fire is not, after all, light-hearted chick-lit, and this book does tackle some serious topics. The new cover suggests a sense of longing, and demonstrates what I’m moving towards in all my covers from now on – a sense of the emotions in the book, and a clear message to the target reader, not a literal representation of what the book contains.

Can't Live Without final cover

The old cover for The Family Trap was one of my favourites, and the new design is also a favourite – I just love the girl with the jaunty pose and the red umbrella! You’ll notice in the banner at the top of the website a new cover for the third in the Stella Hill Series, Growing Pains – this is the last book in the Can’t Live Without trilogy and will be coming to you by early summer next year. Very excited about that one!

The Family Trap final cover

The final redesigned cover is Cupid’s Way, and this is the third cover this book has been graced with! I love this new look, and I feel it really highlights the romance in the story, as way as the playfulness. Now I have the new covers I’ll be gradually updating them on Amazon and elsewhere, and possibly updating the paperback files, although I’m not sure about that yet. The gorgeous Flora Lively covers are perfect as they are and need no makeovers, thank goodness!

Cupid's Way final cover

As for the website, a quick update to the Baskerville theme and a rejig of some widgets sorted me out beautifully. WordPress is a wonderful tool, and so very easy to use. Do let me know what you think of the rebrand, and what you think of redoing covers in general. Bye for now x

Win a Copy of Can’t Live Without in Audio

It’s nearly three years since I published Can’t Live Without – three years! – and this year will see me planning the long-awaited three-quel to Stella’s story. Okay, so three-quel isn’t actually a word, but The Family Trap was the sequel so … you get where I’m coming from. To refresh my memory of Stella Hill’s crazy world of romantic pain I’m going to listen to the audio book and re-read the novel.  I wanted to celebrate everything that Can’t Live Without has done for me in the past three years (15,000 copies sold and stacks of fantastic reviews) by offering 10 lucky readers a copy of the new audio book, narrated by the brilliant Stevie Zimmerman.

CLW audiobook

Here is a clip to whet your appetite:

How do I win? I hear you ask. Well, it’s easy – just leave a comment below or email me at and I’ll send you instructions of how to download your very own copy. I love, love, love audio books, and as a big fan I can honestly say that Stevie Zimmerman’s narration is top notch. Okay, I’m biased about the book itself, but Stevie really brings it to life. Whether you’ve read the book already or not, you’ll love this prize I promise 🙂 The competition closes at midnight on Friday, and if more than 10 people leave comments or email I’ll pick the winners randomly from all the entries. Best of luck, guys!

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