Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Christine Verstraete - Nonfiction to Fiction

Today, I welcome Christine Verstraete who enjoys writing mysteries, children's fiction and short stories.

Besides writing her children's book, Searching For A Starry Night,(just released for Kindle and coming in a new print version), Christine has had short fiction published in various anthologies including Timeshares and the upcoming Steampunk'd from DAW Books, plus in Dragons Composed and The Bitter End: Nautical Tales of Terror. Her latest spooky stories in ebook include "Motherly Love" and "The Killer Valentine Ball" (coming in October.)

Making the Switch from Nonfiction to Fiction

Being trained in journalism is a good thing for writing nonfiction, but it can be a bad habit to overcome when it comes to writing fiction. Yes, I had an advantage in terms of knowing sentence structure, grammar, etc, but fiction has its own style.

Early writing partners will attest to my complaints that I just didn't get it. I didn't think I could make the transition. I don't know why. As I mostly wrote for newspapers, I was used to "just the facts." Stringent writing. No exaggeration.

Then one day it clicked.

I practiced. I kept writing even when I read other "better" works that made me want to throw in the towel. I started with short stories and kept writing, going on to completing a children's mystery and an adult mystery.

Sure, I still sometimes struggle. (Who doesn't?) Sure, there are still authors far better than I am, whom I read for enjoyment and to look at their writing style.

Look around and you'll always find someone thinner, richer, better looking, more talented, etc. So? The bottom line: You can't let surroundings, outside criticism, self-doubt or anything else stop you from reaching your goal.

That's the real lesson I learned in transitioning from one writing genre to another: just keep writing.

The old adage, practice makes perfect, really holds true. Like with anything, you can't improve, you can't build on what you know, you can't change or grow, unless you keep at it.

Even later when you're sending out a novel or stories and still getting no's (yes, many writers (except maybe ultra-famous ones) still get rejections), the temptation to quit is strong. Discouragement weighs heavy. It's easy to get depressed and doubt your abilities. Especially with a novel, it can be a long, tedious process from first draft to finding a publisher or agent, and acceptance. You go through all the stages of grief and despair.

Making the transition and finding your own writing "voice," does come over time. Yes, some writers have quick successes. Some take longer to peak or like me, are "late bloomers."

That's okay. Writing is not a race. There isn't a timetable. You can start at any age. The only requirement: keep going. Be the Energizer Bunny. Write until you sign The End. Write and submit until someone says yes, then start all over again.

Thanks for letting me meet your blog visitors! Any questions, or anyone want to share the story behind their first publishing success (or rejection?)

* Website
* Blog
* eBooks page
* Searching For A Starry Night on Kindle,

**CONTEST: Anyone commenting on any of the blog stops on the tour can win:

* One person who comments on any of the blog tour stops will win a free Kindle copy of Searching for a Starry Night. (You can download Kindle for PC free here.)

* One person will also win a miniaturized dollhouse collector's edition of the first chapter from the first print edition, made by miniaturist LeeAnn Borgia. See myblog for links and photo.

** To celebrate the revised Searching for a Starry Night, one person will win a copy of the new print version when it is available.

Blog Tour Schedule:
Thurs, 7/22: Acme Authors Link - Real vs. Fictional Friends
Mon, 7/26: Morgan Mandel's Double M blog = Dogs and Such
Tues, 7/27: Killer Hobbies with Camille Minichino - Crafts and Writing, what comes first?
Weds, 7/28: Marian Allen- Talking about Writing
Thurs, 7/29: Helen Ginger, Straight from Hel - Getting Kindleized
Fri, 7/30: J.E. Taylor's blog – Writer's Quiz and Other Stuff
Mon, 8/2: Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers - craft how to with Anastasia Pollack – Writing and Crafts: Make Easy Miniature Cloth Decorations
Tues, 8/3: L. Diane Wolfe, "Spunk on a Stick" – Making the Switch from Nonfiction to Fiction


Natasha said...

What wonderful advice. I am proficient in business writing, but fiction is my dream. And every day that I write even a few hundred words, I am happy, because I can whisper to myself that I am a writer.

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

"That's okay. Writing is not a race. There isn't a timetable. You can start at any age. The only requirement: keep going. Be the Energizer Bunny. Write until you sign The End. Write and submit until someone says yes, then start all over again."
This sums it up perfectly!
Nice to meet you.

Marian Allen said...

Love this post! Finding your narrative voice is the hardest thing to explain or define. I've seen so many formal writers struggle with this, after all the years they spend learning the equally difficult lesson of writing with objectivity.

Congratulations on mastering both!

Marian Allen

JournoMich said...

As a journalist, I find some of the same problems transitioning to fiction writing. For me, it's the struggle to let go of research and support mode, and go suspend my disbelief. Also, I have to work hard to get into a character's head--I'm so used to remaining objective!

Great post. Thanks, Diane and Christine!

Romanticism today at SouthernCityMysteries

Karen Walker said...

This is one of the wisest posts I've read in a long time. I came from a PR background, so I had the same issue when I began writing my memoir, which is nonfiction but uses fiction craft techniques. It's very nice "meeting" you.


Wonderful advice, I am not into fiction at the moment but who knows what the future may hold.
An excellent read.


Mason Canyon said...

Thanks Diane for hosting Christine.

Christine, interesting post. Being a journalist I can see problems making the transition. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Thoughts in Progress

Unknown said...

I've only wrote fiction so I think it would be hard to go the other way but I know that it's difficult to find your voice even if fiction is all you know. Congrats on all your books.

Laura S. said...

This is such encouraging advice! It's awesome Christine made the transition from journalist to publishing fiction. That's a pretty big accomplishment!

Thanks, Diane, for hosting Christine!

Jm Diaz said...

This is a great post! And yeah, im glad that we can take our time on writing. Unlike some of the other arts, this is not age dependant. Can you imagine trying to start a rock band at 40? I man, its not impossible for it to succedd, but unlikely. Highly.

The Old Silly said...

Really enjoyed this inspiring and motivating post. Nice job, and here's to a smashing good success on your tour!

Anonymous said...

Christine is one talented and busy lady. Best wishes for the success of Searchinf for a Starry Night.

Stephen Tremp

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I guess the process can be done in reverse as well.

Belle said...

Great post. I find that I have no problems sitting down to write non-fiction, but I'm always wondering if I can pull it off when I'm writing fiction. Practice is the key word for me these days.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Like you, I’m a late bloomer. When we moved back from overseas, I really expected to write non-fiction pieces about the various places we were lucky enough to live in or to visit, but what I found is that I didn’t want to stick to facts and that I had more fun writing fiction.

Your books sound like you have fun writing as well (and the covers are terrific). As one of the few these days without an eReader, I’m waiting for the paper versions.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I went from fiction to non-fiction and it is quite an adjustment!

Thanks for visiting today, Christine.

Helen Ginger said...

I like your attitude. You can write at any age and you have to keep writing, even on days when you think your writing stinks.

Thanks for the uplifting post.

CA Verstraete said...

Hi all, getting back to everyone a bit late. Good to see some other journalists. I keep thinking of a former journalist from Wisconsin (blank mind at moment for name - Deep something Ocean was first book) and look at her now!

Unfortunately, most times it's the nonfiction that pays more, ha! but I still like to keep writing articles when I can to keep the skills up and well for $$.

NOTE: The Kindle version is temp. down as I updated it (again!) So if you bought one or looking to buy one, check back Weds or Thurs for the latest version (can you re-download?)

CA Verstraete said...

Hey thanks for calling me wise. ha! I'll remember that on the bad days; right Helen, no matter what what, some days you still think what a bunch of (*&&^^ I wrote! (and sometimes it still is!)

It'll be neat to see what some of you write next. Have a go anyway, even if it's not working the first time around!

The funny thing is, most blog posts I just quickly put together and only ocassionally make it personal (yes I should do it more often. ha!) , so it's nice to share something and hear comments back!

Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

"That's the real lesson I learned in transitioning from one writing genre to another: just keep writing."

Christine, this line I found to be so true, as well. After three mystery books, I am now launching my first historical fiction. In the midst of the writing, oftentimes the only thing that got me through was to just keep writing. Thanks for sharing!
Sylvia Dickey Smith

Unknown said...

I got a lot from your comments, Christine, in relation to my editing business. Actually so much of what you said can be applicable to not only to other careers, but to life in general.

Excellent interview/post, Christine and Diane!

chris v said...

Good for you Sylvia. That's fantastic and good luck! Crystal thanks for stopping by too.

Diane,thanks again for hosting me. It was fun!

chris v said...

Good for you Sylvia. That's fantastic and good luck! Crystal thanks for stopping by too.

Diane,thanks again for hosting me. It was fun!

Jai Joshi said...

It's great to read about Christine's experience. Having been a fiction writer all my life and only just getting into writing non-fiction these last few years, it's interesting to see how Christine did the opposite - started writing fiction after being in non-fiction all her life.

Great post, Diane.