Within a few months of signing up, I was approached by a small group of writers who took this exchange of work and feedback to a whole new level. I was flattered to be asked to join them, as well as slightly alarmed and apprehensive about what I might be letting myself in for. At first, it was a bruising experience. I learned there were bits of my stories that didn't work, or that went on too long, or sections of dialogue that were unconvincing. The key thing about this feedback, though, was that it wasn't delivered with an aim of scoring points; nobody was trying to force anyone else to write the way they did, or bow to their superior knowledge of how fiction works. It was honest and constructive criticism from people who loved stories and understood that paying close attention to how other writers worked could improve their own skills. Once I'd got used to the idea, my writing came on in leaps and bounds.
One of the writers in that group was Karen Jones. I've always been a fan of Karen's writing, and I'm not alone - over the last few years she's notched up a healthy crop of publications and competition results, in places like Mslexia, The New Writer, Menda City Review, Flash500, Leaf Books, Spilling Ink, to name but a few. Now she's compiled the pick of the crop into a collection of short fiction called The Upside-Down Jesus and Other Stories.
I've ordered my copy, and I'm looking forward to reading it. If you like the sound of the book you can find out more here (worth a click just to find out what Tracy Chevalier - yes, the Tracy Chevalier - had to say about the title story). If you fancied getting your hands on a copy too, you can buy direct from Karen herself, or head over to Lulu. It'll be available on Amazon in a couple of weeks or so.
Lulu can be a bit pricy for postage, but as luck would have it, they're running a promotion from today until the end of March so you can save 20% off the purchase price by using the coupon code WAFFLESSAY20:
A review of Karen's The Upside-Down Jesus and Other Stories will follow in due course.