I’m Going Back to School to Get “F”ed

Welp (that’s a “well” plus a gulp), I just slapped down the fifty-dollar admission fee, sealing my decision: I’ll be heading back to Seton Hill University to get “F”ed.

Seton Hill University, Greensburg, PAI completed SHU’s Writing Popular Fiction master’s program to earn a Master of Arts in genre fiction writing in 2006. DEATH PERCEPTION was my thesis. They’ve since upgraded the program to an MFA, so I applied again and was accepted. I’m going back for the F in January.

The extra 27 credits will center on the teaching of creative writing and writing about popular fiction—something that I want to do more of in the coming years. I also would like to teach at the university level someday.

The program consists of two week-long residencies, one in January and the other in June. If all goes well, I’ll finish the program around this time next year. Since SHU is only forty minutes away, I’ll commute and save some dough.

Wish me luck!

More information:


Advertisements

Watch My Going LIVE TV Interview

I attended Seton Hill University’s In Your Write Mind writing conference June 28-30, 2013. It was the third time I presented, this year on “Self-editing for Publication,” which was well-attended.

Matt Dowling of FCTV’s Going LIVE, a variety show focusing on arts and entertainment, was there to interview many of the authors. Here, I share the spotlight with the fabulous Sally Bosco, author of The Werecat Chronicles.

After watching this, I’ve decided I need to work on my posture…

Here are some photos from the show:

Sally Bosco and Lee Allen Howard Sally Bosco and Lee Allen Howard

And a couple more from the book signing on Friday evening. I sold all my copies of Death Perception!

Lee Allen Howard schmoozing for books Lee Allen Howard signing books

It was a fun weekend mingling with other writers and meeting my fans. I appreciate all of you!

More information:


Guest Post: Stephanie M. Wytovich, Member of the Dead Poets Society

The number one rule in writing is that if you want to write, and write well, you must write every day. Poetry is no exception. When I decided I wanted to become a poet—something I distinguish greatly from being a fiction writer—I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Poetry doesn’t have a huge market, it certainly doesn’t pay well, and to add to the frustration, when you throw genre on the table, you’re looking at a dead end.

Except you’re not.

I’ve dabbled in literary—as I think every up-and-coming poet should—but anyone who knows me realizes my heart is firmly cemented in the black shadows of horror. So not only am I a poet, but I’m a horror poet, and contrary to the monsters and creatures that we all know and love, we do exist and there is a market for us.

And for you, if you’re willing to take the jump.

My connection with poetry has always been very visceral and intuitive, and I’ve come to realize, that unlike my prose, it’s not something that I can just sit down and work on routinely like a job. I need inspiration, crave it, and much like a succubus, I bleed the art form dry when I’m done. It’s hard for me to describe it, but for anyone who has seen what Bo does to her victims in Lost Girl, you can get an idea of how poetic energy works for me. Before I can act, I need a source. A vein. Something living that I can tap into.

Usually it’s art.

Most of the time it’s music.

Sure, I have times where I experience a swell of emotion spiraling inside of me and it’s easy to find the words to expel it, but other times I need to look at or listen to something so I can get hold of its story. Pinterest has been a great optical vessel because I can sweep through pages and save visuals and sayings that speak to me, and make collages or boards based on a specific piece or particular emotion. This is a great way to do character studies or pinpoint locations, and I find myself coming back to it more and more when I need assistance purging a poem.

Spotfiy, however, is my auditory mistress. I pace my writing based on the song I’m listening to, and I recently became enthralled with artists such as Jill Tracy, Johnny Hollow, and Sopor Aeternus. Their music is dark, seductive and beautifully gothic; it’s a wonderful aid when it comes to soft, psychological horror. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that one of my favorite pastimes as a horror writer is creating and administering the kill scene. In poetry, you don’t have the luxury of going on for pages about a kill. You have to be quick, fast, practiced, and effective. Much like if you were actually going to commit a murder.

So let’s write a horror poem using this process.

Step 1: Find your victim. Put on your favorite, high energy song or look up a piece of artwork. (These don’t have to be scary. They just have to elicit emotion). For example, here’s my current inspiration:

Currently playing: “Click Click Boom” by Saliva
Victim: A stalker

Step 2: Predict their next move. If it’s not scary, how would you make it creepy? If it is, how does it make you feel? This will give you your topic. Here are thoughts I jotted down:

Observations: He doesn’t see me watching him, watching her. He thinks he’s going in for a kill, but doesn’t realize that tonight… he’s the victim.

Step 3: Stalk and take notes. Write down individual words or phrases that come to mind when thinking about the subject matter.

Notes: Oblivious, sloppy, unaware, misogynistic, rape, watching, young, pain, knife, old blue jeans, broken, pervert, swelling sex, doesn’t understand, who does she think she is, I deserve this, curls, masturbation, innocence, gun.

Step 4: Go for the kill. Be creative and don’t limit yourself. Feel free to play.

Here’s what I came up with using this process.

Her Stalker’s Stalker
By Stephanie M. Wytovich

He watched her pull her auburn hair
Back into a loose ponytail, moaning
As flyaway strands caressed her teenage face.
He stroked the barrel of his gun, pretending it was her
Fragile hands around his cock,
Thinking, hoping, that after tonight he
Wouldn’t have to imagine it anymore.
He liked to watch her like this—
Catch her in the throes of passion
As she discovered her womanhood,
Felt what it was like to touch herself
Between the legs—but what he didn’t
See, was me. Me pulling back my soft,
Black curls into a ponytail, and
Fingering my knife as I watched him
Watching her, while I planned my kill.

I’d love to know how this process worked for you. Send your creations and trophy kills to wyt3319(at)gmail(dot)com, and I’ll showcase your poems on my blog at: http://joinmeinthemadhouse.blogspot.com/

Stay Scared,

Stephanie M. Wytovich

About Stephanie M. Wytovich

Stephanie M. WytovichStephanie M. Wytovich is an alum of Seton Hill University where she was a double major in English Literature and Art History. Wytovich is published in over 40 literary magazines and her collection of poems, HYSTERIA, will be released this summer. She is currently attending graduate school to pursue her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, and is working on a novel. She is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, a book reviewer for S.T. Joshi, Jason V. Brock, and William F. Nolan’s Nameless Magazine, and she plans to continue in academia to get her doctorate in Gothic Literature.


The Next Big Thing: Death Perception by Lee Allen Howard

I’m participating in a blog hop called The Next Big Thing, about my latest work in progress. I’ve got other things in the work, but here’s what’s up next…

What is the title of your next book/work?

DEATH PERCEPTION. You can read the summary and the first chapter here.

DEATH PERCEPTION by Lee Allen HowardWhere did the idea come from for the book/work?

Where it came from, I’m not certain and am a bit afraid to know! But the original idea was that a young man can discern the cause of death of those he cremates–by toasting marshmallows over their ashes. When what he discerns differs from what’s listed on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers.

What genre does your work fall under?

DEATH PERCEPTION is a blend of supernatural crime, horror, and the paranormal. With a touch of black humor.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m showing my age here with a few of these answers, but if he were younger, Casey Affleck would be a great fit for protagonist Kennet Singleton. Richard Deacon (if he were still alive) could play antagonist Cecil Grinold. And a younger Joan Collins would do justice to co-antagonist Flavia Costa. Reese Witherspoon could portray Kennet’s love interest, Christy Sprunger.

What is the one-sentence synopsis to explain where your work begins?

Nineteen-year-old Kennet Singleton is cremating his last corpse of the day when he receives a call urging him to visit his invalid mother.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m inquiring about agency representation for DEATH PERCEPTION, but have a plan to self-publish digitally, as I’ve done with my other works such as THE SIXTH SEED, DESPERATE SPIRITS, and “MAMA SAID.”

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

DEATH PERCEPTION was my thesis project at Seton Hill University, where I earned a master’s in Writing Popular Fiction. It took me two years in the program to complete the first draft. By the time I graduated, I was burned out on the project that I put it away for a few years. Off and on, I did a few more revisions and finally completed my ninth at the end of 2012.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Although I wrote most of DEATH PERCEPTION before I read the popular Dean Koontz book, the protagonist and his spiritualistic, paranormal world is similar to ODD THOMAS.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I became obsessed with the idea of someone who could communicate with the spirits of those he had cremated. It wouldn’t leave me, so I honored it and turned it into a story.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

When I first started this project, I didn’t believe in communication with the departed. Since then I’ve completed a course of study with the Morris Pratt Institute and now work part time as a Spiritualist medium. I found that many things in the early manuscript were accurate when compared to actual studies of after-death communication. In later revisions, I used my education and experience as a medium to flesh out Kennet’s psychic abilities and enhance scenes.

SUBSCRIBE to stay abreast of what’s happening with DEATH PERCEPTION and all things fiction and editing.

My Amazon Author page is here: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Allen-Howard/e/B004U7773C/. Thanks for your support!

I was tagged for The Next Big Thing by award-winning author Meg Mims. Visit her and these writers for their next big thing!

Hazard Yet Forward for Donna Munro

Ginormous Multi-author Genre Anthology to Benefit Seton Hill University Alum

Hazard Yet ForwardSeventy-six writers connected to the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction program contributed to a multi-genre anthology, HAZARD YET FORWARD. All proceeds from this project benefit Donna Munro, a 2004 graduate of the program. Munro, a teacher living in St. Louis, Missouri, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. An active member of the SHU WPF alumni committee, Munro helps organize the school’s annual writing conference, In Your Write Mind.

To aid Munro and her family, faculty members, alumni, students and friends of the Writing Popular Fiction program immediately responded to compile this massive anthology. The book features flash fiction, short stories and a full-length novella. There are 75 works total from various genres—literally, something for everyone—ranging from horror to romance to mystery, and everything in between.

Notable writers in the anthology are World Fantasy Award winner Nalo Hopkinson, Bram Stoker winners Michael A. Arnzen and Michael Knost, Bram Stoker nominee Lawrence C. Connolly, ALA/YALSA Best Book for Young Adults winner Jessica Warman, Rita finalist Dana Marton, Spur winner Meg Mims, Asimov’s Readers’ Award winner Timons Esaias and WV Arts and Humanities literary fellowships winner Geoffrey Cameron Fuller.

HAZARD YET FORWARD co-compiler Matt Duvall says, “It’s an unprecedented collection of stories from every genre imaginable.” This large volume is an electronic book for the popular Kindle platform and is available for purchase through Amazon, reasonably priced at $9.99.

When I heard about the project, I quickly responded by contributing my story “Mixed Breed, Loves Kids.” Donna was my sponsor when I entered the program in 2004, and she does so much for the WPF program. She’s an all-around fantastic person; I want to support her while she conquers breast cancer.

You can order HAZARD YET FORWARD here.

You can find more information about the anthology at http://hazardyetforward.wordpress.com. To learn about the unique and exciting Writing Popular Fiction program, visit http://www.setonhill.edu/academics/fiction/.


Psychic Development for Writers

I’ll be presenting at Seton Hill University’s IN YOUR WRITE MIND writer’s workshop on Friday morning, June 22. My topic is “Psychic Development for Writers.”

Psychic development is not just for a gifted few. It’s for everyone human, and especially for you as a storyteller.

This workshop will help you discover the innate skills of clairvoyance, clairaudience, and clairsentience. By exercising your psychic sensing mechanisms, you widen your inspirational channel, empowering you to create stories that resonate more deeply with readers.

Come prepared with a specific project in mind to strengthen your imaginative abilities.

Please join us that weekend for genre writing advice and help.
http://​inyourwritemind.setonhill.edu/

Inspiration from Higher Sources

Channeling My Muse

On June 24 last year I spoke at Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction In Your Write Mind alumni retreat on the topic, “Alternative Methods of Idea and Story Generation.” I talked about being open to receiving story ideas and writing assistance from higher consciousness.

Open ChannelI also work as a Spiritualist medium. My metaphysical musings are posted on my other blog, Building the Bridge, which you might want to subscribe to. I’ve channeled through writing since 1989. (Channeling means to open yourself spiritually to communicate the thoughts and voice of discarnate intelligences.)

Here’s something my guides spoke to me the other night concerning my fiction writing. I was concerned that the idea I was working on was too big to handle, something beyond my abilities. They told me to take it one step at a time. (I know, not really profound, but I found it comforting.)

As we continue to prompt you concerning your writing endeavors, continue and be faithful to respond, and we will lead you to the next step. Do not fear that you cannot construct a masterpiece quickly in one sitting. These things take time. Be faithful to follow the process, and you will see your productivity increase, and you will grow to become more prolific.

Fear not about the future, for we have a design and a plan laid out for you. If you will but follow and yield yourself to the gifts we have placed within you, they will make a way even before kings. Step by step, day by day, follow the way, and we will lead you onward.

If you feel called to write, I hope you also will find this encouraging.

As always, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.