Karen Heslop writes from Kingston, Jamaica. Her stories have been published or are upcoming in a Devolution Z anthology, 101 Words Magazine, Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, The Flash Fiction Press, The Nine Tales Series, Speculative 66, Cemetery Moon, Phantaxis Magazine, Bloodbond Magazine, The Blotter Mag, Black Girl Lit Mag, Worlds Unknown, Yellow Mama, and Bards and Sages Quarterly.
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I have been writing for over 20 years. I have always been an avid reader and I got my hands on a story book at school with a writing prompt at the end. Of course I didn’t know it was a writing prompt, it just sounded like a fun idea. I wrote something and I had so much fun doing it, I kept going!
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
I would tell new writers to read work from successful authors in their genre just as much as they practice honing their own craft. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing wrong until you’ve seen someone do it right.
If you could go back and find yourself five years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself about the large world of publishing. I would have started reading all the available material on improving my writing and getting my stories out there.
How do you measure success when it comes to your writing?
That’s an interesting question. It feels great to have a story published of course but ultimately I judge a story as being successful when the words on paper are the best rendition of what I have in my head.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
It can be tough to get writing done sometimes. The best thing a writer can do is try a number of methods and see what works best. Writing at a scheduled time of day works for some while writing when the mood strikes works for others. Personally I do both. Starting a story is hard for me so I have to schedule time for that. Once the story has begun though I know the rest will come.
Are you an outliner or discovery writer? Or somewhere in between?
I guess I’m a little of both. Sometimes I get story ideas that are so convoluted I have no choice but to put an outline in place so the story can be completed.
How do you deal with rejections?
Rejections still hit me hard! I’m hoping I’ll learn to handle them better as I go along. I mean I know that when an editor rejects a story, they’re not rejecting me but they are rejecting a part of me and that stings a little. That said though, I have found all the personalized rejections I’ve received to be extremely helpful and I always appreciate them. I’m improving as a writer because of those rejections.
Do you ever get criticism from family or friends who don’t understand your passion?
No criticism at the moment. I suppose if I decided to quit my job and pursue writing full-time that would be another matter! Persons tend to be supportive or at least accommodating when finances are secure.
Do you participate in any online or in-person critique or writing groups?
I haven’t done that yet but it’s something I would love to do soon. I know there is much to be gained from those interactions so it’s on my to-do list.
What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
Well it’s not cemented yet but I plan to increase the number of words I put to paper. Whether this will be a whole bunch of short stories or more novella length works, I haven’t decided yet.