Interview: Graduate Larry Hodges (Part 2 of 2)

Larry Hodges is a science fiction and fantasy writer, as well as a table tennis coach. (Yes, that’s a strange combination.) Larry is a graduate of the 2006 Odyssey Writing Workshop, the 2007 Orson Scott Card Literary Boot Camp, and the 2008 Taos Toolbox Writers Workshop. He’s an active member of SFWA with over 100 short story sales, including ones to Analog, Amazing Stories, and Escape Pod, and 18 to Galaxy’s Edge. He’s also published several novels (When Parallel Lines Meet, co-written with Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn; Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions; Sorcerers in Space; and The Spirit of Pong) and short story collections (Pings and Pongs, More Pings and Pongs, and Still More Pings and Pongs). In the world of non-fiction, Larry’s a full-time writer with 17 books and over 1,900 published articles in over 170 different publications. You can visit him online at www.larryhodges.com.


Part 1 of this interview, posted last Sunday, is available here.


One of your most recent publications is “Ninety-Nine Sextillion Souls in a Ball,” in the November/December 2021 issue of Dark Matter Magazine. What led you to write this story?

I like to take ideas to their logical extremes. I took the passage from the Bible, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” and wondered what would happen if the world were taken over by religious fanatics who took this to its logical conclusion. Assume they have advanced technology that can convert matter into food and other necessities, and other needed technologies. Let’s assume every woman from age 13 on is forced to have a baby every nine months, and nobody dies. Then population would eventually start doubling every six years. (It’s a little more complicated than that—fortunately, I have a degree in math, and I had a math professor check my work.) The numbers go up exponentially—believe it or not, it would take only about 250 years to convert the entire Earth’s mass into humans, and they would number about 99 sextillion! So that was the story I wrote. (99 Sextillion is 99,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.)

Continue reading “Interview: Graduate Larry Hodges (Part 2 of 2)”

Interview: Graduate Larry Hodges (Part 1 of 2)

Larry Hodges is a science fiction and fantasy writer, as well as a table tennis coach. (Yes, that’s a strange combination.) Larry is a graduate of the 2006 Odyssey Writing Workshop, the 2007 Orson Scott Card Literary Boot Camp, and the 2008 Taos Toolbox Writers Workshop. He’s an active member of SFWA with over 100 short story sales, including ones to Analog, Amazing Stories, and Escape Pod, and 18 to Galaxy’s Edge. He’s also published several novels (When Parallel Lines Meet, co-written with Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn; Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions; Sorcerers in Space; and The Spirit of Pong) and short story collections (Pings and Pongs, More Pings and Pongs, and Still More Pings and Pongs). In the world of non-fiction, Larry’s a full-time writer with 17 books and over 1,900 published articles in over 170 different publications. You can visit him online at www.larryhodges.com.


You’re a 2006 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. What made you decide to attend? What insights did you gain into your own work?

I did some research and asked around, and Odyssey seemed the most recommended workshop. (Having Robert J. Sawyer as a “Writer in Residence” that year greatly helped!) Probably the biggest insight I learned about my own work was that I’m an “idea” and “humor/satire” writer who needs to focus on character and other aspects equally. I also went in knowing that I had little feel for description, and so have spent years working to overcome that. One thing that helped: Robert and Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos suggested writing a story that was all about description, and so I wrote and sold “In the Belly of the Beast,” where the whole story takes place in the belly of a dragon that has swallowed a bunch of people, including a wizard who creates a field to protect them in the dragon’s stomach—and much of the story revolved around vivid descriptions of the “venue.” It also became a character story about the wizard.

Continue reading “Interview: Graduate Larry Hodges (Part 1 of 2)”

Graduate Essay: “Odyssey: A Storytelling Jumpstart” by Katherine McMullen Yañez

Katherine McMullen Yañez is a graduate of the 2021 Odyssey Writing Workshop. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University. Her work has been featured in Parhelion Literary Magazine, Aurora Online, and in the short story anthology from KY Press, Scary Story: An Anthology. Her short story, “The People Tree: An American Fable” was nominated for Best of the Net. A proud native Kentuckian, she is currently freezing her @ss off in Northeastern Ohio.


I applied to Odyssey when my writing had come to a stand-still and nothing I tried was able to jumpstart it. Convinced I had writer’s block, I hoped the frantic pace and harsh deadlines would spur me out of my rut. Within the first few days (maybe even hours!) I realized I didn’t have writer’s block—I just sucked at plotting. My writing was stalled because I didn’t have a firm grasp what the events of the story were supposed to be. Having an MFA degree, it was humbling to realize I was lacking in such fundamental aspects of story.

Continue reading “Graduate Essay: “Odyssey: A Storytelling Jumpstart” by Katherine McMullen Yañez”

Odyssey Podcast #142: David Farland

mp3 Odyssey Podcast #142

Bestselling author David Farland was a guest lecturer at the 2021 Odyssey Writing Workshop. In this excerpt from a question and answer session, he answers questions about his plotting, outlining, and drafting processes. 

David is an international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for Best SF novel of the year, the Whitney Award for Book of the Year, and the International Book Award for Best Young Adult Novel of the year, among others. He is best known, however, for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.

He is the lead judge for one of the world’s largest writing competitions and has helped dozens of writers launch their careers, including such well-known names as Brandon Sanderson, James Dashner, Brandon Mull, and Stephenie Meyer. You can learn about his workshops and sign up for his free advice column at www.mystorydoctor.com.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2021 by David Farland. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2021 by Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust.

For more Odyssey podcasts, visit:
https://www.odysseyworkshop.org/resources/podcasts/

OdBlog Flashback: “Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture” by Barbara Ashford

This winter, Odyssey Online is once again offering the course “Getting the Big Picture: The Key to Revising Your Novel,” taught by Odyssey graduate and award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford. The following essay, in which Barbara shares some of her insights on the topic, was originally published here on December 1, 2018.

The application deadline for this winter’s Odyssey Online courses is December 6, 2021.


barbara ashford

Barbara has been praised by reviewers and readers alike for her compelling characters and her “emotional, heartfelt” storytelling. Her background as a professional actress, lyricist, and librettist has helped her delve deeply into character and explore the complexities of human nature on the stage as well as on the page. Her musical adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd has been optioned for Broadway.

Continue reading “OdBlog Flashback: “Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture” by Barbara Ashford”

Odyssey Podcast #141: Barbara Ashford

mp3 Odyssey Podcast #141

Odyssey Podcast #141 is an excerpt from the Odyssey Online course “Getting the Big Picture: The Key to Revising Your Novel,” taught by Odyssey graduate and award-winning author Barbara Ashford in Winter 2019. Barbara will be teaching the course again this winter. You can find more information on all of Odyssey’s 2022 online class offerings here: https://www.odysseyworkshop.org/odyssey-online/upcoming-classes/

Barbara has been praised by reviewers and readers alike for her compelling characters and her “emotional, heartfelt” storytelling. Her background as a professional actress, lyricist, and librettist has helped her delve deeply into character and explore the complexities of human nature on the stage as well as on the page. Her musical adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd has been optioned for Broadway.

Barbara’s first published series was the dark fantasy trilogy Trickster’s Game (written as Barbara Campbell). Published by DAW Books, Trickster’s Game was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Society’s 2010 Fantasy Award for adult literature.

She drew on her musical theatre roots for her second novel series, the award-winning Spellcast and its sequel Spellcrossed, set in a magical summer stock theatre. DAW Books released the two novels in an omnibus edition: Spells at the Crossroads.

A 2000 graduate of the Odyssey workshop, Barbara has taught eight online courses for Odyssey and has served on the staff of the Odyssey Critique Service for more than a decade. You can visit her dual selves at barbara-campbell.com and barbara-ashford.com.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2019 by Barbara Ashford. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2021 by Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust.

For more Odyssey podcasts, visit:
https://www.odysseyworkshop.org/resources/podcasts/

Graduate Essay: “Adventures in Emotional Craft” by Sam Weiss

Sam Weiss is a graduate of the 2007 Odyssey Writing Workshop and the 2021 Odyssey Online class Emotional Truth: Making Character Emotions Real, Powerful, and Immediate to Readers.” She is an applied mathematician who works in Boston with her husband and two cats. Her first professional sale, “There Will Be No Alien Invasion,” was published in Fireside in August 2021.


When I first started writing, I got a lot of “pretty writing but this isn’t really a story” critiques. I didn’t have a clue how to fix those stories or even what underlying problem those critiques pointed to. Once I wrapped my head around active main characters working toward a specific goal, obstacles, causal chains, and the framing of character change, those criticisms abruptly stopped. My stories fared better in my attempts to publish them (and caused less pain to those reading them), but I acquired a new set of criticisms: that my point of view was too distant, that I was telling and not showing, that I was showing but not telling, that the emotions my characters felt seemed inauthentic or inappropriate for their situations, or that the emotions were too on the nose.

Continue reading “Graduate Essay: “Adventures in Emotional Craft” by Sam Weiss”

Odyssey Podcast #140: Scott H. Andrews

mp3 Odyssey Podcast #140

Photo credit: Al Bogdan

Odyssey Podcast #140 is an excerpt from the Odyssey Online course “Emotional Truth: Making Character Emotions Real, Powerful, and Immediate to Readers,” taught by Odyssey graduate and award-winning editor Scott H. Andrews in Winter 2019. Scott will be teaching the course again this winter. You can find more information on all of Odyssey’s 2022 online class offerings here: https://www.odysseyworkshop.org/odyssey-online/upcoming-classes/

Scott lives in Virginia with his wife, two cats, twelve guitars, a dozen overflowing bookcases, and hundreds of beer bottles from all over the world. He writes, teaches college chemistry, and is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the eight-time Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award-winning online fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Scott’s literary short fiction has won a $1000 prize from the Briar Cliff Review, and his genre short fiction has appeared in Space & Time, Crossed Genres, and Ann VanderMeer’s Weird Tales. Scott has taught writing at the Odyssey Workshop, Writefest, and online for Odyssey Online Classes, Clarion West, and Cat Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. He has lectured on short fiction, secondary-world fantasy, editing, magazine publishing, audio podcasting, and beer on dozens of convention panels at multiple Worldcons, World Fantasy conventions, and regional conventions in the Northeast and Midwest. He is a seven-time finalist and 2019 winner of the World Fantasy Award, and he celebrates International Stout Day at least once a year.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2019 by Scott H. Andrews. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2021 by Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust.

For more Odyssey podcasts, visit:
https://www.odysseyworkshop.org/resources/podcasts/

2022 Odyssey Online Classes

ODYSSEY’S LIVE, INTENSIVE ONLINE CLASSES HELP WRITERS OVERCOME MAJOR CHALLENGES

“I am so thrilled I was able to take an Odyssey Online Class, I can already see the improvement in my writing. The lectures and class discussion were wonderful. I learned so much in a short amount of time. The feedback I received from my classmates was invaluable and the critiques from the instructor have already improved my novel beyond expectations. I cannot recommend this class enough!”

—Hayley Wild

For 26 years, Odyssey has been holding its world-renowned workshop for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, with 59% of graduates going on to professional publication. Among Odyssey graduates are award winners, Amazon bestsellers, and New York Times bestsellers.

Continue reading “2022 Odyssey Online Classes”
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