Monthly Archives: January 2014

Low-Residency MFA Programs

I’ve written a little bit before about my experience in Seton Hill University’s MFA program. A low-residency degree is a good fit for me, due to my job and mortgage and family, but it’s not for everyone. If you like working independently, online learning, and intermittent travel, then a low-residency degree is a great option. However, if you need face-to-face contact and constant encouragement from classmates and faculty, a low-res design may be a poor fit. MFA programs—particularly in fiction—are uniquely well-suited to a low-residency model, but other types of degrees wouldn’t work this way. I’m extremely happy with my choice of SHU’s program. I’ve learned so much and worked with fabulous people, both faculty and students, and my graduating cohort is a tight-knit bunch full of encouragement and creativity. SHU’s degree specifically focuses on Writing Popular Fiction, which is perfect for the types of writing I do. Literary fiction or poetry writers should look elsewhere, but if it’s a sideline (and I do write a fair bit of literary fiction as well) this is still a good program. I can track the improvement of my writing over the course of the first half of the program, and my rate of publication acceptance has increased .5%.

If you’re considering a graduate degree in creative writing, decide whether you want to attend school traditionally or not. Furthermore, a low-residency MFA is not the same as an online degree program but should be seen more as a mixed-mode learning option with face-to-face class time compressed into several shorter blocks of time rather than spread out over an entire term. SHU’s MFA involves attending six week-long residencies, where you may wind up doing coursework or attending events that relate to your studies for up to sixty hours for each of those weeks. Thus to call it just an “online” program is super misleading, in my estimation.

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Publication News for January

My first full-length novel, The Red Eye, will be released soon from Alliteration Ink. Exact dates and details TBD, but I’m really pleased with the process, the book, the cover art, and the entire experience.

Over the past few months, I’ve been posting a lot of reflections on several pieces of horror literature. Those were part of a course I was taking in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. I’m delighted to say that my final project for that course—a horror story featuring an off-the-beaten-path monster—was recently accepted for publication in Mocha Memoir Press’ The Grotesquerie, an anthology of female horror writers. I’m very excited and especially grateful to all those who read drafts and gave me great advice on how to make it the best story it could be.

I have another release coming up this year so far, a vampire story with a twist entitled “Method Writing,” which will appear in Static Movement’s anthology Night Hunters. Fellow writers will perhaps enjoy that one. I’m also working on a prequel to The Red Eye, and again I have to give kudos to my SHU classmates and mentors for helping whip that piece into shape.

I don’t have anything else out at markets at the present time, but I’ve lately been thinking about whether one of my unpublished novels is actually urban fantasy or if it’s secretly paranormal romance. That may change what markets I pursue. I never thought of myself as a romance writer. Then again, I never thought of myself as a horror writer, and yet I’ve published over a dozen horror stories and a novella. In fact, I’ve had more horror accepted than any other genre I write, and the genre I think of as my primary (science fiction) has been my least-published to date. Much of my work straddles the line between horror and fantasy, but I’ve never actively tried to market something as primarily romance. In many ways, genres are getting fuzzier, more specialized, and less meaningful. A good story is a good story, and that’s always what I aim to write, including those elements that I feel make sense for the plot and characters. If those elements are comedic, horrific, fantastical, or romantic, then so be it. Publishers obviously think more in terms of what their readers are drawn to, of course, and therein lies the trouble with more experimental, cross-genre work.

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