NOTE: Jane Fox is not an RSE client (although I wish she was), I just wanted to interview her because I love reading her books.
During the pandemic last year, I was introduced to insta-love short stories. Since then, I've pretty much become obsessed with them to the point that, when I find a book I want to read, I check out how many pages it is before downloading it from KU. I've discovered a wonderful handful of insta-love short story writers due to this recent obsession.
Jane Fox was one of those authors.
To put this into perspective: I have many favorite authors that I love to read. While I'll read their books, I won't read every single book they publish.
Jane Fox is my first ever auto-buy author.
I love that she's able to pack a full story into just 4-7 chapters and wanted to find out how she did it. So, without further ado....here's Jane Fox.
et’s get to know Jane Fox. Tell me about yourself, Miz Jane. Just curious, is Jane Fox a pen name?
Jane is a pen name, because in my real life I work for a school and I don’t think they’d appreciate how steamy my books can get! [Side note from Celise: They can get pretty steamy. But for a quick moment can I address the fact that it sucks she has to use a pseudo name due to her job?!]
Why short story romance? Did you take any courses on how to write short stories?
I took a short story course in college as an elective, but I don’t remember a thing from it! I am continually learning as an author, though, both from reading and from taking craft courses that other authors offer. My absolute favorite has been Becca Syme’s Write Better-Faster course. It’s personalized to you, and I think any writer could really benefit from it.
What does a typical day look like for you? Are you writing fulltime? If not, do you want to/plan to?
I would love to write full-time, but I’m just not there yet. I work afternoons at the day job. I try to make myself get up early in the morning to write, but my brain’s usually not awake, so I do a lot of my writing late at night.
What’s your writing process? Do you have any writing rituals (ex: background noise vs silence)? Are you a plotter or pantser? Do you edit or let it ride?
Airpods in, something I love playing. Sometimes I listen to the same song on repeat for an entire writing session. I work best by doing “sprints”—50 minutes of writing, then a break. I have a Discord group I sprint with to give me some accountability. I usually write my Zaftig books from a skeleton outline. I know who my characters are and how they’re going to meet, but then I sort of discover their personalities as I write. I self-edit, run my work through ProWritingAid, and usually have an author friend read it over for me. [Side Note from Celise: Be sure to check out Aphrodite's Library for other author resources]
You’re my first—and only—auto-buy author. I really love your Zaftig Dating Agency series. How did writing this series come about? How did the spin-off, Zaftig Matchmakers, come about? Was it in your plan all along to write what I call a “standalone series”? How many books to you plan for each series?
Honestly, I went into Zaftig thinking I’d write six books and then move on. I wanted a way to connect the books, but not so much that they had to be read in order. I had no idea how the notion of a dating agency was going to go over, but it seemed fun and gave me a jumping-off point. But readers really seem to identify with the series, and they love Mona. The spin-off series came from me falling in love with Zara when I wrote Learning the Ropes. Mona always seems to get her matches right, and I was curious as to what it would look like if things went a little crazy behind the scenes.
What made you decide to go the independent publishing route?
Two things: I’m a complete introvert, and I have absolutely no patience. Indie publishing appeals to me because I can do it sitting on my couch, and I can have a story from concept to published within a couple weeks. The idea really appealed to me.
If a newbie indie romance author wanted to write short stories, what advice would you give them? Do you think there are any pros/cons to writing short stories?
If someone wanted to write short stories, the first thing I’d tell them is do it! It’s fun and rewarding (and completely crazy sometimes, but you take the good with the bad). Figure out a way to brand yourself. People familiar with Zaftig could probably pick out a cover even without the series name on it. And have fun! If you’re having fun, your readers will have fun, and that’s what will keep them coming back. I like writing short stories because of my lack of attention span. If you have the same issue, this genre could work really well. I’ve written novels in the past, but they take so long and the gratification is so delayed. I do better when I’m getting regular feedback from my readers about what’s working and what isn’t.
One downside to writing shorts is that they just don’t make as much money. With Kindle Unlimited, we’re paid by page reads, so a 38-page book doesn’t get you anywhere near what a full novel will. Also, the 99-cent pricing means we only get 30% of the cost of the books. If they were priced at $2.99, we’d get 70%. So, if you’d like to support your favorite authors by buying books, remember that they’ll get more from purchasing a $2.99 collection than if you bought all their works separately.
What projects are you currently working on? Will there be more in the Zaftig Matchmakers series?
My goal has always been to publish a Zaftig story each week. Sometimes real life gets in the way of that, but that’s always my primary publishing goal. I play around with other genres under other pen names, as well, but Jane’s books are my main focus. I’d like for there to be more in the Matchmakers series, but I really saw my sales drop when I put those out. I need to figure out a way to draw readers from the main Zaftig series in. Like everything else in indie publishing, it’s all trial and error.
What book title (or author) kicked off your romance writing journey?
I read one of Hope Ford’s books and I was hooked. I’ve always liked the idea of writing short stories, and Hope found a way to make them profitable. I reached out to her, and, despite her success, she was such a sweet, open, and sharing person. She really had an impact on me seeing writing (and the Short Reads genre, in particular) as being a community, rather than a competition. [Side Note from Celise: Hope Ford was amongst those authors I discovered, too!]
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Definitely a crow or a magpie. I see shiny things, and I want (to write) them. It always surprises me when people say they don’t have any ideas because I have so many (and so little time).
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
More than I like to think about. If I think a genre might work well for me, I’ll dive in and plot and start writing. I figure it’s good brain exercise, if nothing else. Sometimes my writer BFF will say to me, “Why don’t you finish that thing you’re working on before you start something new?” It’s not my fault. Magpie brain.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’d still be working for a school, but I’d be doing it full time.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Honestly, it’s writing the first sentence. I know that sounds ridiculous, but if I can get the first words down on paper, it seems a lot easier to keep going. Sometimes I have to tell myself that I only have to write twenty words. Once I’m settled in with the document open, my brain says, “This isn’t so bad. I guess we can do this for a while longer.”
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes and no. For me, there are two different kinds of writer’s block. One is where you just don’t feel like writing, and the other is when you’re stuck on a problem in a story. The nice thing about my tight timetable for publishing is it doesn’t matter if I don’t feel like it, I promised my readers a story and it’s got to happen. I think a lot of writers don’t have firm deadlines like that, so they wait for inspiration. You’ve just got to push on through that if you want to write consistently. No author wakes up every day full of energy and ambition to write.
The other kind of writer’s block—the one where you have a problem you just can’t solve—that I’m a little more patient with. My mind will stick to that problem until I have it worked out. I’ll think about it in the shower, when I’m going to bed at night, in the car. Sometimes when I’m watching a movie or a TV show I challenge myself to figure out how I’d get characters out of the situations they’re in. That sort of helps exercise my problem-solving abilities.
Where is your favorite place to write and why?
I did a writing retreat a couple years ago, and it was amazing—I had a room overlooking a field on this beautiful farm, and no one talked to me. If I could do that once a month, I’d be so productive (and relaxed).
If you could live in any period of history when would it be and why?
The realist in me knows that there’s no better time to live in than right now. I definitely wouldn’t be able to give up the internet. Or sanitation. But I’d love to have the chance to see the Tudor era in England. I’ve been obsessed with it since middle school.
Give me three words that describe you.
I’m sensitive, sarcastic, and (hopefully) kind.
What's a movie you can practically quote from start to finish?
"Clue" or "The Princess Bride." It’s impossible to watch either of them with me. [Side note from Celise: YASSSSSS! I love The Princess Bride, too!]
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
People would never guess this based on my covers, but I’m charcoal gray.
What’s your favorite ’90s jam?
I have an embarrassing love for "MMMBop." I generally listen to a lot of classic rock, early punk, and contemporary indie bands, but put Hanson on and I’m singing along with absolutely no shame. [Side note from Celise: No judgment here, Jane. I love me some Hanson, too]
How can readers stalk you/friend you/follow you?
If you’re interested in talking with me, the best spot is probably my Facebook group. If you’re looking for updates, you can join my mailing list or follow me on Instagram or Facebook.
Thanks for hanging out with me in Aphrodite's Room, Jane. It's been fun! I hope you guys check out Jane's books.
Keepin' it romantic,
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