Why Would a Fiction Writer Write Non-Fiction?

I live, eat, and breathe historical fiction. No, really. Sometimes I won’t answer to people unless they call me Jane Eyre, which annoys the bejeebers out of my husband. It’s a hoot to mess with cashiers and sign my checks Jane Austen. Kind of rotten about that lawsuit, though. And I admit, it’s just a tic creepy when I fake a British accent and dress like Charles Dickens. I think it’s the moustache that really throws people.

With that background in mind, what in the world am I doing dipping my toes into the pool of non-fiction with my latest release Writer Off the Leash? It all started with a blog. Grab your milk and cookies, kids, because here comes a story.

Way back when dinosaurs roamed the face of the earth, I staked out my little corner of the internet and named it Writer Off the Leash. I didn’t want to be pinned down to a particular topic, though writing is what I most often post about. I wanted to roam into other neighborhoods like religion, philosophy, and where the best chocolate chip cookie recipe can be found.

Lo and behold—quit blinking, an angel will not appear—that little plot of cyberspace grew, attracting readers from all over the place. Yes, even Hoboken, New Jersey. I know, right? Anyway, these readers started leaving comments about how I should compile all my writerly advice into a book format.

I froze. Me? Put out a non-fiction book? What do I know about truth telling? I’m a historical fiction writer for Pete’s sake. But the voices would not shut up . . . not the ones in my head, the commenters on the blog.

So, I did what any self-respecting, strong, not-so-young woman would do. I caved into peer pressure. I found a buddy who had an interest in the inner workings of publishing and was willing to take my material and figure out how to morph it into paperback and ebook formats. And voila! Harpy type music and a glittery sprinkle of fairy dust later, Writer Off the Leash: Growing in the Writing Craft was born.

I’ve learned a lot from going the self-publishing route. Who’d have thought a cover involved so many many decisions? Editing requires a gazillion read-throughs. Then there’s ISBN’s and Library of Congress and on and on and on. Why did I suffer through it all?

I wanted to blow the lid off stodgy old-school rulebooks and make it clear that writing can—and should—be fun. Here’s a blurb:

Are you a writer at heart? How can you tell? And if you are, how do you go about composing and selling the next Great American Novel? WRITER OFF THE LEASH answers these questions and more–all in an easy to understand, tongue-in-cheek style. This is more than a how-to book. It’s a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Will there be more non-fiction in my future? Maybe. This has been a fun detour, but if I listen really hard, I hear voices from the past calling me. For now I’m returning to historical fiction.


Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.