Christine DeSmet is a faculty member with the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies and is an integral staff member for the annual “Writer’s Institute” and “Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop and Retreat.” She also conducts several online courses and professional critique services.
She began her career in journalism and public relations with the University of Wisconsin. Part of her responsibilities included working with staff promoting various continuing education writing classes and meeting fiction writers that attended the classes. That was enough to pique her interests in fiction writing: “But I also needed a creative outlet. While PR was great fun, I was getting a little bored with writing ‘just the facts.’ The leap into fiction was very freeing for my creative spirit.”
That leap has been extensive. Christine writes in several genres including: fiction, screenplays, mystery and romance. Each genre allows her to express her creativeness in different ways, however, the inner drive to tell a good yarn is her primary motivation. Her experiences writing about writers in each genre created her own spark. “For example, I was writing a feature article about the screenwriters who took our classes, and as I talked with them I found their enthusiasm infectious. I joined the Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum, a national group based from Wisconsin, and started writing scripts. The same happened in romance writing and mystery writing. I met writers who were having a ton of fun telling stories; their fire sparked my creativity and I realized I had stories aching to get out on the page, too.”
Fun and storytelling are themes throughout Christine’s writing career. Her enthusiasm and devotion to the craft are exhibited at the writer’s conferences classes she teaches. Her sessions are always full and students are comfortable asking questions. Christine is always accessible and you can find her in the hallway between classes continuing to engage, challenge and inspire writers attending the conference and workshops.
Her enthusiasm is a direct result of her approach to writing which is to have fun. For Christine the purpose of writing is clear and simple: “To have fun. All my life I’ve said that to myself and other writers. If you’re not having fun at some level, find something else to do with your time.”
No matter what genre she is writing in Christine is drawn to the challenge of writing which she describes as: “Writing a story that both entertains and has enlightenment or something to say that matters. Whether I’m writing a humorous mystery, short story for the Whiskey Creek Press collection or a full novel like Spirit Lake or serious screenplay, the challenge is making sure the story matters to readers. And various things matter. Just helping people laugh matters in this life, for example.”
Christine is a member of Jewels of the Quill (www.JewelsoftheQuill.com) where she is known as Dame Moonstone. When asked if Dame Moonstone was a pen name or an alter ego she replied succinctly: “Alter ego.” She explains: “I liked moonstones because of their ties to emotions like love, which is good for somebody like me who writes romance mysteries and other romantic stories. So Dame Moonstone – me, as a writer- is all about the magic I can create emotionally in my stories.”
Christine is not a writer who slaves over her laptop by herself for hours in a basement office of her home. She has a writing partner, Peggy Williams, and together they write scripts. Having a writing partner helps the creative process: “She and I push each other, and we also have a ton of fun brainstorming. As a result, we write material twice as fast together as we would left alone. We also feed off each other’s ideas. And we get twice as much done together as we might get done alone. Writing is less lonely when you have a critique partner you can call or email. Having a writing partner can be a true joy; I feel lucky.”
As you might imagine, Christine, doesn’t experience writer’s block. Again, her response to the question on writer’s block was to the point: “Sorry, no time for writer’s block.” She likes to have deadlines and has developed her own method for imposing deadlines on her projects. Certainly, for other writers there is a lesson to be learned.
During her career Christine says the major change in the publishing industry has been the evolution of the E-book. “I was one of the pioneers. My novel Spirit Lake was first published as an e-book in the year 2000, which is eleven years ago now!” She has also witnessed major changes in screenwriting, especially with development of internet websites such as IMDV-Pro which allows producers, actors and others to interact.
Among other faculty and students attending the Continuing Education conferences and workshops Christine has the reputation for having many irons in the fire at one time. Her current projects include a mystery novel, two romantic comedy screenplays and several new ideas for a Hollywood producer connected with the Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum.
Even with her own writing projects Christine devotes substantial time to her role as a teacher and receives a great deal of satisfaction in helping mentor students wanting to improve their writing craft. She finds two experiences memorable: “Two things are most memorable for me. Anytime a person discovers for the first time that they really can write, and anytime a writer publishes or gents an agent.
A teacher like me lives to see that sort of accomplishment in others.”
Christine can best be described as an activist writer and teacher through her involvement in several writing groups including: Writer’s Guild of America, Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum, Electronic Publishing Internet Connection (EPIC), Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and Jewels of the Quill.
For more information on the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Education writing programs go to their homepage at: www.dcs.wisc/lsa/writing/.
You can learn more about screenwriting through the, Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum at: www.wiscreenwritersforum.org.
Explore the Jewels of the Quill at: www.JewelsoftheQuill.com