Odyssey Workshop

Interview: Guest lecturer and graduate Elaine Isaak (E.C. Ambrose)

Elaine IsaacE. C. Ambrose will be a guest lecturer at the 2015 Odyssey Writing Workshop. She writes “The Dark Apostle” historical fantasy series about medieval surgery, which began with Elisha Barber (DAW, 2013) and continues with Elisha Magus (July 1, 2014). Other published works include “The Romance of Ruins” in Clarkesworld Magazine, and “Custom of the Sea,” winner of the Tenebris Press Flash Fiction Contest 2012. She is also the author of The Singer’s Crown and its sequels, The Eunuch’s Heir, and The Bastard Queen, published as Elaine Isaak.

An Odyssey 1997 graduate, Elaine quite enjoys her alternate identity, aside from a strong desire to start arguments with herself on social media. She blogs about the intersections between fantasy and history at ecambrose.wordpress.com and can also be found at facebook.com/e.c.ambroseauthor or twitter @ecambrose. Under any name, you still do NOT want to be her hero. Learn more at http://www.TheDarkApostle.com

In addition to writing, the author works as an adventure guide. Past occupations include founding a wholesale business, selecting stamps for a philatelic company, selling equestrian equipment, and portraying the Easter Bunny on weekends.


You graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop in the summer of 1997, and returned as a guest lecturer in 2011 and 2012. You’ve also taught for Odyssey Online, and you provide feedback on author manuscripts through the Odyssey Critique Service. What draws you back to Odyssey and working with developing writers? Read more…

Special News Alert–Odyssey Slam, November 2, Amherst, NH

Odyssey Vineyard SlamODYSSEY STORY SLAM IN THE VINEYARD IN AMHERST, NEW HAMPSHIRE!

Odyssey has teamed up with LaBelle Winery for the biggest fantasy/science fiction/horror event in New England this fall!

This Sunday, 11/2, from 4:00-6:30, Odyssey will be holding a story slam with 22 awesome writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror! The slam will take place in the vineyard at LaBelle Winery in Amherst, NH. You’ll relax beside a roaring bonfire with s’mores and LaBelle crafted beverages as you listen to some of the top writers in New England. Authors include best-sellers, award-winners, and up-and-coming talents.

Each story will be 5 minutes or less in length, and all family-friendly. In case of rain (or snow), the event will move indoors to LaBelle’s amazing wine cellar.

Jeanne Cavelos, Director of Odyssey, will serve as master of ceremonies and read from her own work.

Stories & Authors Include:

“Makers” by Jennifer Noelle Welch
“Passable Strangers” by Brian Staveley
“The Land Beyond” by E. L. Mellor
“Alone” by Brent C. Smith
“The Art of Losing” by Heather Albano
“DamnCat” by Jim Isaak
“The Muse’s Lament” by Patrick LeClerc
“Portal” by Victoria Witt
“Three Easy Payments” by Richard William Bradford
“Skin Colors” by Sarah Smith
“Consider the Services of the Departed” by F. Brett Cox
“Prelude to Neptune Crossing” by Jeffrey A. Carver
“The Most Beautiful Antlers” by Lauren O’Donnell
“Some Kind of Hero” by Jason Allard
“Mirabelle Dances the Tango” by Marlana Patton
Excerpt from “Temporary Hauntings” by Craig Shaw Gardner
“Late Train” by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
“Fifty States” by James L. Cambias
“The Limited Utility of Sand Weasels” by Alexander Jablokov
“Little Monsters” by Jenise Aminoff
“Quintessence” by Jeanne Cavelos

Get more details (including the authors’ websites) and register for the event here: http://www.labellewinerynh.com/event-registration/?ee=551

A portion of the proceeds will go to support Odyssey.

Come and hear some great authors! Don’t miss this unique event!

Special Announcement: Online Classes for Winter 2015

**ODYSSEY WRITING WORKSHOPS ANNOUNCES INTENSIVE, LIVE, ONLINE CLASSES FOR WINTER 2015**

This winter, the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust is offering three live online courses with the same high quality and rigorous approach as its acclaimed, in-person Odyssey workshop: Showing versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction, One Brick at a Time: Crafting Compelling Scenes, and Effective Endings in Speculative Fiction.

Since learning is an active process, all Odyssey Online courses involve live online class meetings, allowing students to ask questions and participate in discussions. Jeanne Online Class captureEach course is designed to provide intensive focus on a particular aspect of fiction writing. Challenging homework assignments allow students to practice new techniques, while feedback from the instructor and from classmates helps students to make strong improvements. Each student also has an individual meeting with the instructor. Courses provide a supportive yet challenging, energizing atmosphere, with class size limited to fourteen students. While courses are designed for adult writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, interested writers of all genres are welcome to apply. Read more…

Special Announcement: Odyssey Podcasts #76 (Alex Jablokov) and #75 (Holly Black)

Jablokov Black podcastEvery month or two, the Odyssey Writing Workshop releases new podcasts created from excerpts from lectures given by guest writers, editors, and agents at the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Each one is ten to fifteen minutes long.

Our two newest podcasts feature authors and guest lecturers Alexander Jablokov (Brain Thief), from the 2014 summer workshop, and Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles), from the 2013 summer workshop.  Alexander discusses how a character functions within a plot, and the many conventions authors use to present believable characters, while Holly explains how to create a magic system.

Other available podcasts include:

  • Carrie Vaughn: Goal-setting for writers (#38)
  • Lori Perkins: Agents, what they do, and what to look for in an agent (#37)
  • Sheila Williams: Qualities of short story openings (#74)
  • Nancy Holder: Short fiction and novel contracts; advances and royalties (#72 & #73)
  • Lane Robins: Outlining techniques (#64)
  • Craig Shaw Gardner: Writing humor in science fiction and fantasy (#18)
  • Melissa Scott: Worldbuilding techniques (#5 & #21)

These podcasts and many more are available for free on the OdboatcleanedupOdyssey Podcast page at http://www.sff.net/odyssey/podcasts.html.  Here you may browse and download podcasts, or subscribe to podcasts so you automatically receive them upon release.

Odyssey Podcasts can also be found in the iTunes store (for free): https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/odyssey-sf-f-writing-workshop/id213992784?mt=2.

Graduate’s Corner: The Six-Week Odyssey, by Arley Sorg

Odblog - Arley Sorg

Arley Sorg is a graduate of the 2014 Odyssey Writing Workshop.  He grew up in England, Hawaii, and Colorado.  He hangs out at SF/ Bay Area cafes.  He often writes about identity and society, using the context of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and all the cool stuff that blurs and blends.  He leans towards darker stories, but retains the right to defy expectations in any way he pleases.

For more:  http://arleysorg.com/


Most likely, you think you know something about writing.

Perhaps you have moments where you glide on the hot winds of elation, followed by crashes into complex canyons of doubt.

Whether you scribble stories into a secret notebook, or have published work that readers and writers praise, or anything in-between or beyond, you probably have more to learn than you think. Read more…

Graduate’s Corner: What is “Interstitial,” and Is It Contagious? by Ellen Denham

EllenHeadshot2014Ellen Denham, a 2006 Odyssey Writing Workshop graduate, is a multidisciplinary performing artist and writer completing a doctorate in music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Her publications include stories in Daily Science Fiction, the Sky Warrior Books anthology Gears and Levers 3, and most recently the Lightspeed special Women Destroy Science Fiction issue.

A member of the board of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, Ellen is at her most interstitial when she is combining her music and writing and collaborating with other artists, for instance, creating a comic soundscape from internet memes or an improvised score for dancing sentient mineral blobs, both of which occurred in projects she has directed at the  Indy Convergence. Read more at http://denham.virtualave.net.


(In our January post, Delia Sherman talked about her work with the Interstitial Arts Foundation. Some readers had questions about the nature of interstitial arts, so we asked Ellen to elucidate on the subject and tell us how it might intersect with writing.)

You may have come across the term “interstitial” used to describe writing or art.  In its most basic dictionary definition, interstitial means “relating to or situated in the interstices”–the small spaces in between things.  In an artistic sense, interstitial art is anything that is hard to define because it straddles or crosses boundaries of genre or artistic discipline, or falls outside of mainstream traditions.

Many books don’t fit neatly into one genre–for example, Susanna Clarke’s multiple award-winning Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  Is it historical fiction?  Alternate history?  Fantasy?  I heard Clarke talk about this book at Worldcon in Glasgow in 2005, and as I recall, somewhere in the publishing or marketing process, a question arose about whether the book was fantasy.  “Of course it’s fantasy!  It has magicians and fairies in it!”  she had replied.  But the consciously old-fashioned writing style and extensive footnotes borrowed from mainstream literary traditions gave this book broad appeal to readers both inside and outside the fantasy genre. Read more…

Graduate’s Corner: World-Beginning Rust and Confidence, by Rhiannon Held

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Author Rhiannon Held graduated from Odyssey in 2006.  She is the author of the urban fantasy Silver (Silver, Tarnished and Reflected) series from Tor.  She lives in Seattle, where she works as an archaeologist for an environmental compliance firm.  Working in both archaeology and writing, she’s “lucky” enough to have two sexy careers that don’t make her much money.  Visit her author website at www.rhiannonheld.com.


I’ve recently started writing a new novel series, after spending nearly five years completely focused on my first series to be published, the Silver series. Now, I know some writers love bouncing among a variety of different worlds when choosing the setting of their next project. I’m not one of them—when I say focused, I mean focused. Having finally stepped out of that series’ world to write in a new one, I learned a couple things: without practice, skills get rusty, but you shouldn’t let that chip away at your confidence in striking out into new territory.

When you think about it, rust makes sense: some writing skills you use only at the very beginning of the process of building a world.  If you continue to write in that same world, your world-beginning skills decay through simple disuse.  For me, my rustiest skill was pinning down character voice. Read more…

Interview: Jerry A. White

Jerry WhiteAuthor Jerry White is a 1996 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. He teaches writing, math and science to middle grade students in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife, three sons, and a hamster named Ophelia that doesn’t like him very much. Jerry also works for a production company that makes short films and book trailers. His first book, the middle-grade fantasy The Thickety: A Path Begins, will be published this month and will kick off The Thickety series.

Learn more about Jerry and The Thickety and peruse Jerry’s teaching blog at http://www.jawhitebooks.com.


Congratulations on your forthcoming book series! We’re so excited for you. You graduated from the very first Odyssey Workshop, held in 1996! Can you share with us what made you decide to attend? What was your Odyssey experience like? What surprised you most about the Workshop? Read more…

Interview: Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem

Award-winning authors Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem will be the writers-in-residence at this year’s Odyssey Writing Workshop.

melanie temMelanie Tem’s work has received the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards and a nomination for the Shirley Jackson Award. She has published numerous short stories, eleven solo novels, two collaborative novels with Nancy Holder, and two with her husband Steve Rasnic Tem. She is also a published poet, an oral storyteller, and a playwright. In Concert, a collaborative short story collection with Steve Rasnic Tem, was published in August 2010, and solo stories have recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Crimewave, and Interzone, and anthologies such as Supernatural Noir, The Devil’s Coattails, and the Black Wings series. Her novels Yellow Wood and Proxy will be published by ChiZine Press in 2014 and 2015. Melanie is a social worker and a non-profit executive director. The Tems live in Denver. They have four children and four granddaughters.

Steve Rasnic TemSteve Rasnic Tem is the author of over 400 published short stories and is a past winner of the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards. His short story collections include City Fishing (Silver Salamander), The Far Side of the Lake (Ash Tree), In Concert (with wife Melanie Tem), Ugly Behavior (noir fiction, New Pulp Press), Onion Songs (Chomu Press), Celestial Inventories (ChiZine), and Twember (science fiction stories, NewCon Press). His novels include Excavation, The Book of Days, Daughters (with Melanie Tem), The Man In The Ceiling (with Melanie Tem), Deadfall Hotel, and Blood Kin, southern gothic horror released in March from Solaris Books.

You may visit the Tem home on the web at www.m-s-tem.com.
*Photo credits courtesy of Debra Lee Fanatia


This summer you will be writers-in-residence at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, something you previously did in 2005. This blog was not in existence then. So tell us, once you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first pieces? What were you doing wrong in your writing in those early days? Read more…

Director’s Corner: Staying Motivated and Productive

jeanneJeanne Cavelos is the director of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust. She was a senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, where she worked for eight years, editing the fantasy/science fiction program, the Abyss horror line, and other fiction and nonfiction. Jeanne is also the bestselling author of seven books and numerous short stories and articles. She has won the World Fantasy Award and twice been nominated for the Stoker Award.


Have you written today?  Written fiction–not emails for work or Facebook status updates or blog posts.  Have you written this week?  Have you written this month? Read more…

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