I started playing around with the idea of publishing in my early twenties. I began my first original novel and wrote from the heart, but I kept getting stalled about halfway through. I knew there were plot problems, but I didn’t know how to fix them. I started a Master’s program in English and thought I’d have the chance to work on my book and count it as homework too. Bonus! I was wrong, though. While I gained teaching experience through that program, it wasn’t focused on creative writing. After I completed it, I contemplated a PhD but did not want to write a dissertation. I wanted to finish my novel.
I told my MA advisor this, and being a published author himself, he told me about an MFA program at Seton Hill University. The degree was in the Writing of Popular Fiction. Hurray! A place that embraced genre writers. Even better? Instead of a dissertation, you write a full-length novel ready to publish. At the time, I couldn’t fathom how insanely lucky I was to have found SHU.
Every student is assigned a published mentor and a few critique partners. Every month, you turn in a set amount of pages (no fewer than 20). You critique and get critiqued, and then you revise. At the end of three years, you can’t graduate unless your mentors deem your book worthy of publication. It was just the kick in the butt I needed to really dive into my novel, figure it out, and finish it.
The writing guidance is only one perk of this program. One of the best is networking. You can’t believe how many important people you’ll meet. Your fellow students are most likely published or close. One of the professors is Nicole Peeler, a popular urban fantasy writer. Every residency, they have agents, editors, and famous authors as speakers. Beyond this, the family at SHU stays with you long after you graduate. You expect writers to be competitive, but that’s not the case here. Everyone is so supportive and helpful.
I had never heard of Crimson Romance until one of my fellow students mentioned it. On a whim, I submitted, and they bought my thesis novel, book of my heart, On the Fly, before I even graduated. I never would have finished writing it had it not been for Seton Hill. The WPF program got my ball rolling. I’ve since published the second book in my Las Vegas Sinners series, Full Strength, and I’m under contract for the next three.
I’m not saying everyone needs to go to school to become a successful writer, but I can’t recommend SHU enough. It’s so much more than a graduate program, and my years there were magical. I’d do it again a thousand times over if I could.