A new adventure

My heart is beating fast, and I think I’m even shaking. Why? you ask. Are you skydiving? About to play the piano at Carnegie Hall? Um, no.

I just hit the “submit” button on my application to a Ph.D. program. This one, in fact, at Lancaster University in the UK.

And like most of the new directions we take in life, it was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. It will be a few months before I learn whether I’m accepted or not, but at least I know I gave it my absolute best shot, since putting together the package took a month all by itself. Along with the usual recital of personal details, here’s what the application entailed:

  • A personal statement about why I want to do this, and at Lancaster in particular (answer: there are only a very few doctoral programs where you actually get to write a book instead of analyzing other people’s for seven years)
  • Qualifications and work experience (35 novels plus a career in corporate ought to cover that)
  • References (the director of the MFA program where I already teach, and my wonderful editor at Hachette)
  • Transcripts for my BA, MA, and MFA, along with the actual diplomas
  • A CV (curriculum vitae)
  • My passport
  • A writing sample (I sent the first three chapters of The Longest Road. I would have sent the whole novel in paperback, but … probably overkill, huh?)
  • And last but definitely not least, my research proposal (six pages single spaced, detailing the 80,000-word novel I would write, plus the 20,000-word dissertation).

While the MFA is the terminal degree on the fine-arts side for creative writing, something inside me has always wanted to go farther. Maybe it’s because I’m the only person on both sides of my family to go to college. Maybe I’m just an overachiever and don’t know when to quit. In any case, this doesn’t mean I’m going to put my series on hold … I’ll be writing Fields of Gold, The Highest Mountain, and a romance novella entitled A Home For His Heart in 2017, before the program starts in October. But this new project, if it gets the green light, would fit into my production schedule pretty nicely in 2018.

I owe thanks to fellow author and professional costumer Monica E. Spence for talking me through the process, and for opening doors at Lancaster. She’s near the end of her program—congratulations, Monica!

Okay. Breathe. And wish me luck!


26 thoughts on “A new adventure”

  1. SparksSparks

    Yep, you’re an overachiever and don’t know when to quit. 🙂

    Nonetheless, much admiration and best of luck!

  2. Michele HugglerMichele Huggler

    Good Luck! You’ll probably be exhausted by the schedule, but will love every minute of it. How exciting! It’s been almost 40 years since I had a short run in a Master’s program, but I still look on in fondly. Please keep us up to date with your progress.

  3. Esther TaylorEsther Taylor


    I think this is wonderful news and I certainly wish you every success!! Plus it sounds like super fun!!

    Best Wishs

  4. Susan GableSusan Gable

    Good luck! I think it sounds terrific. Fingers crossed for you.

  5. Yorick WellmanYorick Wellman

    I love your Magnificent Devices series.You have tricked me: I buy the ebook because I can’t wait to see what happens next; I buy the Audible audio books when they are finally released because I like that format best

  6. Pat AmsdenPat Amsden

    As long as you’re happy and works for you it’s all good.Cheers to being an overachiever.

  7. Liz Vander LeeLiz Vander Lee

    Good for you! Though I may not have typed that if I knew you weren’t going to keep writing and publishing 😉

  8. Sydney AveySydney Avey

    Shelley, This makes perfect sense to me. You are a gifted teacher as well as a talented writer. To exert your influence in a major university is an effort worth pursuing. Sydney

  9. Jacquie BiggarJacquie Biggar

    Wow, go you! I don’t even know what half those initials stand for, lol. I wish you the very best of luck, you’ve got this!

  10. Carol GeaslenCarol Geaslen

    Good for you!!!

  11. Todd MoodyTodd Moody

    You continue to amaze me. I know you will rock this. Is this for an English or Rhetoric PhD?

  12. DennaDenna

    I think it’s wonderful you continue to develop and challenge yourself. Best of luck. I do hope you are accepted into the program. Although I wasn’t one for university, I still take online courses to learn new skills and admire everyone who pursues their goals. Look for to hearing the good news!

  13. Katie VorreiterKatie Vorreiter

    Most excellent! I’m glad you submitted your application. They’ll be lucky to have you. Would you need to reside there, or is it distance learning?

  14. DebDeb

    Best of luck on your new adventure. Being a teacher myself, I am always happy to hear about people continuing their education. I will have my fingers crossed for you.

    November 17, 2016
  15. CarolCarol

    Mazel Tov!

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