Monday, June 25, 2012


Writers often corner me in the local doughnut shop, fast food restaurant, or ice cream parlor (what? I like to eat!) to ask for advice.

Most of the time I get writing craft or business questions. They're often seeking information on how to market a book, find new submission markets, or even solicit a fat man's opinion on the best ice cream flavor.

Sometimes I get serious questions--questions like, "Should I get a writing major?"

I hate that question because I end up giving advice that could inadvertently destroy lives. And my stock answer usually goes something like this: "Get your degree in something solid...something you can always fall back to if the writing thing doesn't work out."

Now, I give this reason because I feel that if I can say anything that will sway the inquirer from his or her dream, it was never really their dream to begin with.

However, after spending an extended weekend at Seton Hill University's Alumni writing workshop, I now realize that my advice could be considered mentally Neanderthal to someone with deeply-set dreams of writing a genre novel.

Seton Hill University offers an MFA program called "Writing Popular Fiction," which is ideal for the genre writer searching for truth. And, students are assigned a mentor who has tremendous experience--even published experience--in the particular genre the student is interested in.

Many writing programs teach students a bunch of crap, taught by teachers who've never been published. Students in those programs begin the writing path at the same point an uneducated writer does with similar desires.

But, Seton Hill University's MFA program is a common sense education, filled with knowledge and mentorship needed to put you on the path to success.

I can't say enough about how wonderful this program is, and how great it is to see a university focusing on writing in the literal sense.

So, go ahead and ask the question now and see what answer you get.

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  1. I completely agree and thanks for coming Michael. We so enjoyed having you! Your knowledge and experience was a welcome addition to our weekend! We all hope we can come back again.

    Donna Munro
    IYWM Workshop Scheduling Chair

  2. Part of the magic of the Seton Hill program is having wonderful guests and speakers. Thanks so much for bringing your knowledge and willingness to share.

  3. It was grand meeting you, Michael! Thanks so much for bringing your experience, knowledge, and humor to the program!


  4. This was my first semester at Seton Hill's MFA program! Amazing!! I had so much fun and learned a wealth of information.

    I had already publsihed a book but I believe my craft will grow and improve!

  5. "Students in those programs begin the writing path at the same point an uneducated writer does with similar desires."

    Isn't this the truth. I think of some Columbia MFA students who graduate with no idea of how to submit their novel or who they're even writing for. The one thing they didn't learn in a program that's all about them is that it's really all about the reader.

  6. You speak truth, sir. It's a fantastic program, and going from a creative writing undergrad program to the (at the time I went) MA program at Seton Hill was like going from a smoky windy tunnel to a sunlit hallway. After this program I knew exactly what to do, and the people there are amazing: supportive, they push you to do your best, and provide a much-needed shoulder. If you're serious about being a writer, this is the program for you. But I do agree to minor (at least) in something for a solid day job.

  7. It was great to see you at Seton Hill, Michael! so much fun packed into just a few days. Come back soon! :)

  8. Hi Michael: Thanks for the great post. You're right. The strength of the program is largely from the fact that all of the professors and mentors are published authors who give real-world lessons and advice about writing. But also that there is a great deal of heart and support in the program. Others genuinely want to see you succeed and will help you. It was great having you at the workshop. I hope you'll be a permenant fixture. Sally B.