Romance writer Samantha Jane has been on Book Country right from the site’s launch in 2011, workshopping books and eventually going on to publish her first novel, PHYSICAL THERAPY, via the Book Country publish tools. PHYSICAL THERAPY, a contemporary romance, was released two weeks ago. I wanted to chat with Samantha to find out what life’s been like since she published her debut, and what’s next for her writing.
LS: You’ve got a lot of different genre interests as a writer: Contemporary Romance, Regency Romance, Romantic Suspense . . . very impressive! What draws you to these 3 categories, and are there other categories you are planning to try next?
SJ: I have always been big on variety, especially as a reader. While I love to see the struggle of couples of today and how everything plays out, I’m a person who tends to live in the past—and the historical novels with pirates and gypsies and lords and ladies definitely fit that bill.
While I like the Contemporary stories to be fairly realistic, the Regency and other Historical novels are a true escape. The writer has to paint a good enough picture with words that your brain can translate so that your imagination can take flight.
As for the Suspense, well, speaking as a reader and a writer, I’m fairly new to the world of Suspense. As a matter of fact, I’m a little lacking in my Romantic Suspense education—which is part of the reason I decided to add a little mystery to one of my works: I love a challenge. I admire the writers who are able to throw down a great plot twist while keeping the romance alive.
There’s an idea that’s been brewing in the back of my mind that would fit into the Romantic Fantasy realm. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, but I’m pretty excited to start down that path.
SJ: Thanks so much!
How does it feel? Like a huge weight has been lifted off me. I got past the very first hurdle in a world that is a very big deal to me. Being a published author has been a dream of mine since I started writing at the age of six, so it’s amazing to me that one of my dreams has actually come true. Instead of continually walking into a brick wall, I have actually opened the door of opportunity and am letting myself walk through it.
I have so many people supporting this dream and I am so grateful to my friends and family who have sent encouraging words and good vibes my way. They are just as excited, if not more so, than I am about this book being published. I’ve gotten a lot of “thumbs up” from those who’ve started reading and those folks are passing on the word to their friends.
And I’m hanging out in some e-readers pretty close to Neil Gaiman and that is crazy.
LS: Tell us more about how you workshopped your book on Book Country. Were there specific pieces of feedback that helped you to revise PHYSICAL THERAPY? How did you use that feedback?
SJ: The feedback on Book Country has been invaluable. When I started using Book Country, the four stories I posted were in their first drafts, the roughest of rough drafts. I have never allowed anyone to read any of my early drafts, but Book Country gave me a safe place to gather criticism and ideas, new ways of thinking about certain aspects of the stories, and that helped widen my vision.
For PHYSICAL THERAPY, I remember there were four reviews that gave me exactly what I needed. They were exceptionally specific, and I am exceedingly grateful for that. It took a fresh pair of eyes to let me know I was being an ellipses abuser, and that my continuity was a little off in places.
I took all of the advice and criticisms and looked at the story with this new information and said to myself, “Oh, absolutely, that is trite and needs to GO” or “Ok, this makes so much sense when I do it this way.” It gave me an idea on what other readers want to see, or not see. I cut out so much extraneous nonsense, and that made it so much easier to get to the heart of the story.
LS: Your Book Country Regency Romance WIP, THE LONG WAY HOME, must be requiring a fair amount of historical research to make it ring true. How do you go about this research?
SJ: Lucky for me, I love research. I’ve always been the Go-To Girl for research projects.
Now, that being said, I like to start with some visuals, and by that, I like to watch a lot of TV and movies. I think it would be fair to say that there are some historical inaccuracies in films and television shows, but seeing things play out in front of your eyes gives you a good place to start.
I have a background in theater. I was involved in the theater in some capacity for about twenty years, since I was just a little kid. As a community, we love the past, love to put on those Restoration comedies, love to dig deep with the commedia dell’arte, love to wade through Shakespeare. All of this requires an amazing amount of research.
When talking period clothing, for example, one of the best resources a friend introduced me to is The Costumer’s Manifesto, which is an amazing website where you can find collections of photos and historical research to get you going in the right area.
It’s one thing to write a scene involving birthday candles on a cake, but if they haven’t been invented yet, if the tradition of making a wish and blowing out the candles hasn’t become a thing yet, then your story is going to be wrong from the get-go. You have to find out when the tradition started, and if it doesn’t work for your story, research the time and find a new tradition.
LS: What is your advice to new Book Country members who are trying to get involved in the community, so that they can make their book enticing and get the feedback they need to do a productive revision?
SJ: Make friends. Expand your circle. Get a mentor, one that comes from Book Country or outside it. My mentor has been so supremely helpful in this process. I do not know what I would do without her. Actually, I might still be screaming at my computer trying to put together a decent cover.
And research. READ a lot of stories in your genre. Reviewing someone else’s work on Book Country is just as important as getting yours reviewed. When you’re able to see problems or areas of improvement in the work of others, you have a little bit more clarity when it comes to your own work.
Something very important that some writers refuse to do is LISTEN and take in the criticism. You don’t necessarily have to use the ideas people give you, but just be open and receptive. Even if you don’t use an idea, maybe the thought process gets going and you think of something more amazing than what you had already written down.
Samantha Jane can be found on Twitter: @Samantha12Jane. In addition to Samantha’s books PHYSICAL THERAPY and THE LONG WAY HOME, check out the Contemporary Romance MAYBE THIS TIME and the Romantic Suspense JUST DANCE.