Wednesday, October 28, 2015

From Nonfiction to Fiction in One Easy Trip

Wishing Steps Cover front I’m thrilled today to welcome friend, fellow blogger and author Karen Helene Walker to Thoughts in Progress to talk about her latest release, THE WISHING STEPS.

Karen’s story took hold of her sometime back and won’t let go. She joins us today to tell how she went ‘from nonfiction to fiction in one easy trip.’ Please join me in giving Karen a warm TIP welcome. Thanks for stopping by Karen, welcome.

Thank you, Mason, for hosting me today.

The year 2009 changed my life. In February, my memoir, Following the Whispers, which took 10 years to complete, was published. It was the culmination of a dream come true. I’d quit my 35+-year career in marketing and public relations to write full time in 1999. Writing the memoir was just another step in that nonfiction writing life – from writing press releases, brochures, essays and articles with my client’s name on them, to putting my story down on paper. Easy peasy, right?

Wrong. It took my taking every creative writing course the University of New Mexico had to offer, plus multiple sessions with writing coach/editor Mark David Gerson ( for me to whip my manuscript into publishable form. So when it was finally out in the world, I wanted, no, needed, to celebrate in a big way.

My husband and I had a dream trip planned to go to Machu Picchu (high on my bucket list). Then I had to have shoulder surgery and we couldn’t go. We had a limited amount of time in which to use the airline tickets. The only places we could find to travel during the timeframe were Scotland and Ireland.

Terrified to tackle the narrow, winding roads on our own, and fearful we wouldn’t find any of the sites we were interested in seeing, we hired drivers. Our trip began in Edinburgh, Scotland. On the second day, as soon as I stood amidst the ruins of Balnauran of Clava (a 2000-year-old burial site), I heard an unfamiliar inner voice say, “Tell my story.” Having never heard voices before, I was taken aback and wasn’t sure I heard what I thought I heard. So I said, “Sorry, I’m on vacation.”

The voice came again a week later when I was exploring the Wishing Steps at Blarney Castle in Ireland. This time, the energy I felt was stronger and harder to ignore. We finished our trip and when I came home I thought that was the end of the mysterious voice. But it wasn’t. As I said, I’d never heard voices so when this voice/energy continued to plague, er, speak to me, I knew I needed to listen.
Mark David had written a book called “Voice of the Muse.” I decided to do the exercises in the book and work with him once again. In the first session, I said, “I can’t write fiction.” Despite getting straight A’s and graduating Summa Cum Laude, it was clear to me that I was not a fiction writer. In my mind, you must have a great imagination, write great metaphors, use similes and other writing techniques. Be able to write lush, rich descriptions. That doesn’t come naturally to me. I was used to the who, what, where, when, and why of a press release.

Mark David’s gentle coaching style helped me move past my own limiting beliefs and I began to allow this story to emerge. Believe me, I kicked and screamed the entire six years it took to get this story out of me. I’ve lost count of the number of drafts. It was bare bones after the first draft.

Writing a novel was perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I am not an analytical thinker when it comes to writing. I write from the heart. So I didn’t think through a character’s motivation or even character traits. They just came through and I wrote it down. I guess it was kind of like automatic writing.

I’m still much more comfortable writing nonfiction. I’m pretty sure that will be my next project – in fact that same voice is now asking me to write a companion piece to The Wishing Steps – one that imparts all the wisdom that came through during the writing of the book. I’ve learned that it doesn’t pay to ignore those callings. Stay tuned…

Karen, thanks again for joining us today and for sharing how you came to write fiction. How the story came about is such a wonderful story in itself.

Now here’s the scoop on THE WISHING STEPS:

Three Women and a Single Story That Unites Them Across the Millennia

      “Totally engrossing. A must-read for today’s wise woman!” Rev. Kathleen McKern Verigin, minister/priestess

      Brighid, Ashleen and Megan: Bound through time by a curious light, a mysterious voice and a call they dare not ignore. Yet in obeying this strange force, the women must face soul-searing trials that call into question everything they know and believe — about themselves and about the world around them.

      “Guaranteed to inspire you to a deeper level of spirituality and a new appreciation for Goddess.” Rev. Clara Z. Alexander

For those not familiar with Karen, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Karen Helene Walker - Thoughts in Progress
Author Karen Helene Walker
Karen Helene Walker is a widely published essayist and author of the 2009 memoir, Following the Whispers.
When she isn’t writing, you will often find Karen performing in nursing homes and retirement communities as part of the Sugartime or Sophisticated Ladies musical groups, traveling with her husband of 20 years, Gary, or relaxing with a good book at their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

For more on Karen and her writing, visit her website at

THE WISHING STEPS is now available to purchase in both print and eBook versions at: You can also purchase it as an eBook on Kobo, I Tunes, and at Barnes and Noble.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Karen’s visit. If you have any questions for Karen, just leave them in the comments. Have you ever had something pop in your head that just won’t go away until you did something about it?


  1. Welcome Karen. I am glad that you listened to that nagging voice, and put in the hard yards - but it doesn't sound as if you had a great deal of choice.

  2. Hi Mason, thanks so much for hosting me today.
    Yes, you're right, Elephant's Child - I didn't feel as if I had a choice. I was called to write this book. And I gave it my best shot.

    1. Karen, thanks so much for stopping by Thoughts. You are an inspiration to those who aren't sure about listening to that voice. Wishing you much success.

      Hi all, thanks for stopping by. I'm out of town for a few weeks so my responses may be few and far between but thanks for your support.

  3. As soon as I saw the title of the post, I knew it was Karen! Awesome of you to host her, Mason.

    1. Ha! - yeah, it's been kinda hard to come up with different ways to tell the story of this story.

  4. Congrats, Karen! I hope the companion story is easier to write.

    1. Me, too, Diane. From your mouth to God's ears.

  5. Congratulations to Karen, and it's really interesting to hear of your journey to fiction writing. Thanks for hosting, Mason.

  6. I think jumping genres can be very challenging. I'm glad you made the jump! Why not, after all?

  7. When the muse/voice strikes we need to go with it! Stretching ourselves and meeting challenges as a writer helps us grow and I think that is true for fiction and non-fiction. Good luck, Karen.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.