Odyssey Workshop

Interview: Mike and Rachel Grinti, Part One

Mike and Rachel GrintiMike Grinti is a 2003 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. He and his wife, Rachel, cowrote two books: Claws (2012) and Jala’s Mask (released last November). They write middle grade fantasy, though they have dipped into YA on occasion. They met at a writing workshop in 2002, though they didn’t start writing together until a few years later. They live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States.

Rachel Grinti grew up in Pittsburgh as the oldest of five siblings. She learned to read when she was only three and has been reading about magic and monsters ever since. Not only is she hopelessly addicted to reading, but she tries to spread the habit by working as a children’s librarian. She loves dogs, and still lives in Pittsburgh with a hyperactive, cowardly Boston Terrier named Miles.

Mike Grinti was born in Russia but moved to the US with his parents at a young age. He picked up the language quickly, and fell in love with reading after he checked out The Hobbit from his school library. He’s been hooked on fantasy and science fiction ever since. Besides some short stories, he wrote one very bad novel on his own before finally working with Rachel on some good novels. When he’s not writing or reading, he’s probably playing video games. He has a day job making video games to support their writing and reading (and eating, and dog-owning, and roof-having) habits.

Catch up with the Grintis at their website: www.grinti.com.

Mike and Rachel, you work as a team to write fantasy novels. Congratulations on the release of your second book, Jala’s Mask, which was released last November! How do you see your work fitting into the contemporary publishing market? Read more…

Graduate’s Corner: Small Presses: Tiny But Mighty, by Eileen Wiedbrauk

Eileen WiedbraukEileen Wiedbrauk is Editor-in-Chief of World Weaver Press and Red Moon Romance, as well as a writer, blogger, book reviewer, coffee addict, cat herder, MFA graduate, fantasist-turned-fabulist-turned-urban-fantasy-junkie, Odyssey Workshop alumna, photographer, designer, tech geek, entrepreneur, avid reader, and a somewhat-decent cook.

She wears many hats, as the saying goes. Which is an odd saying in this case, as she rarely looks good in hats.

Eileen is online at eileenwiedbrauk.com, @eileenwiedbrauk, @WorldWeaver_WWP, and Facebook.com/worldweaverpress.

Small presses play a multi-faceted role in the publishing industry, whether they’re focused on commercial/genre fiction or if they’re boutique/literary arts presses (the latter are often associated, at least marginally, with a university or arts endowment).  I’ve had the pleasure of running World Weaver Press, a speculative fiction small press, for the past three years, and before that I studied so-called “little and literary” publishing in grad school. Read more…

In Memoriam: Melanie Tem, author and writer-in-residence

Melanie Tem was an author and writer-in-residence whose works won the Bram Stoker Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the British Fantasy Award, among others. She often cowrote stories and novels with her husband, Steve Rasnic Tem. They shared a passion for working with developing writers, and served Odyssey as writers-in-residence twice, first in 2005 and again in 2014. They are, in fact, the only writers-in-residence who have served at Odyssey more than once. In their time at the workshop, they held fascinating “dialogues” in which Melanie and Steve explored their differing views on concepts, providing illuminating insights. They also gave generously to students through critiques and private meetings. Melanie was always eager to reach out to other writers, to understand their struggles and share her own.

Melanie passed away this February and the void she left is keenly felt by Odyssey organizers, graduates, readers, and all who knew her. Michael Main, class of 2014, wrote the following about his experiences with Melanie and Steve.

Photos provided courtesy of Lauren O’Donnell, also class of 2014.

Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem participating in an Odyssey tradition--the Friday night barbecue.

Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem participating in an Odyssey tradition–the Friday night barbecue.

Countless readers know Melanie Tem through the stories she told. I was long among those readers myself, but more than that, she was my mentor, my nurturer, and the person who led me to Odyssey in the summer of 2014. I’d like to tell you a little about that journey for me and about how deeply Melanie touched all of the 2014 Odfellows in the year before her death from cancer.

Right from her earliest short stories in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, some of which were written with Steve, Melanie had a broad repertoire that extended from dark fiction to one-act plays. It was her character-driven science fiction that drew me in, enough so that I sought out her byline beyond Asimov’s wherever I could find it, even before I realized she lived just a few miles from me. That realization came when I began to have an inkling that I wanted to write stories, wanted to communicate and move readers the way my favorite authors did, and I discovered that Melanie–yes, Melanie Tem!–hosted small gatherings for budding writers at Denver’s West Side Books. I showed up one night and was warmly welcomed to her writing family.

The gatherings were writing gatherings, so of course we wrote: small exercises during our gatherings and more during the week or two between gatherings. If I threw a group of people at you, I doubt that you could ever tell which would be likely to show up at the writing evenings because the variety was unbounded, and Melanie was the bond that held us together. We read our writing to each other, talked about the emotions that arose, talked about our hopes, listened closely when Melanie offered her insightful and gentle critiques—always infused with insight and encouragement. For me, she had the most amazing mind for character motivation and plot.

Melanie said that I must continue writing and submit what I write. My first acceptance came from a venue that she suggested, Stories for All Seasons, where actors gave dramatic readings of short, short stories. That wouldn’t have happened for me without Melanie. She encouraged me to go to a short writing workshop, and when I struggled during the workshop, she pointed out all the things that were going well, gave me a new prompt for a story, and sent me off to write a story that turned into my first print acceptance. That wouldn’t have happened for me without Melanie.

And later, in 2014, when I applied for the Odyssey Writing Workshop, that wouldn’t have happened for me without Melanie either. Of course, I knew about the annual six-week Odyssey workshops, but it was only when I saw that Melanie and Steve were slated to be the writers-in-residence during Week 5 that I thought about applying. I wrote to Melanie and got immediate encouragement. “I’ve thought about you often over the years and am glad to know that you’re doing well and wanting to write again,” she told me with encouragement.

I applied to Odyssey 2014, and when I was accepted, I couldn’t wait to see and work with Melanie and Steve. As you may know, Odyssey’s visiting writers and writers-in-residence over the years have been a wonderful and varied lot. For me, none could be more dedicated, kind, insightful, generous and loving than Melanie and Steve. I know directly how much my fellow classmates received during the Tems’ stay with us. My roommate Darin had some uncertainty about one of his pieces, but the Tems were able to show him exactly what was working well and to point him to a newly announced anthology where it might fit; most of us went to Readercon in Boston at the end of the Tems’ week with us, and they were both
there to support us; Holly, one of the more experienced writers in our group, had a late-day reading of her story at the Con, and the Tems stayed longer than anyone to cheer her on.

The Tems’ support was endless, as we learned about writing and about kindness from Melanie and Steve. I’m so glad to have this chance to express to the world how much that meant and how much we love Steve and Melanie—and how much we thrive from the love they have given us.

–Michael Main
M & S cropped 4

Director’s Corner: Tracking Your Character’s Emotional Arc

jeanneJeanne Cavelos is the director of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust, which is in its 20th year of operation.  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.

Find out more about Jeanne here and more about the Odyssey Writing Workshops here.

This post was first published in January 2015 at K.M. Weiland’s “Helping Writers Become Authors” blog at: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/characters-emotional-arc/ 

Most authors try to understand what a character is feeling at a particular moment: He’s angry here. He’s happy there. Many authors also consider how the character’s emotional arc changes over the course of the entire story: He begins insecure. He ends confident. But few think about how the character’s emotional arc develops over the course of a single scene.

Read more…

Interview: Guest lecturer Brendan DuBois

Brendan DuBoisGuest lecturer Brendan DuBois is an award-winning mystery, suspense and science-fiction author. Mr. DuBois is a former newspaper reporter and a lifelong resident of New Hampshire, where he lives with his wife Mona, their hell-raising cat Bailey, and one happy English Springer Spaniel named Spencer.

He is at work on his seventeenth novel, and his latest Lewis Cole novel, Fatal Harbor, was published in May 2014. Last year, he published his science fiction trilogy, The Empire of the North, made up of The Noble Warrior, The Noble Prisoner, and The Noble Prince. His recent thriller, Twilight, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. DuBois has been published in ten countries by such publishers as St. Martin’s Press; Little, Brown; Time Warner UK; Houghton Mifflin; Pegasus Books, and many more.

His most widely published suspense-thriller, Resurrection Day, has received world-wide acclaim. It takes place in October 1972, ten years after the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted into a full-scale atomic war, destroying the Soviet Union and decimating the United States. Called “one of the most inventive novels of alternative history since Robert Harris’ Fatherland,” Resurrection Day is a chilling tale of what might have been. At the 58th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, Resurrection Day received the Sidewise Award for Best Alternative History Novel.

His short fiction has been awarded the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America and the Berry Award for Best Mystery Short Story of the Year, has been nominated three times for an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and has been nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Mystery Short Story of the Year.

He is also a one-time Jeopardy! game show champion.

You write mainly mysteries, including your popular Lewis Cole mysteries, and suspense. What drew you to write in those genres? You also write science fiction. Does writing SF appeal to you in the same way as writing mysteries and thrillers? Read more…

Interview: Guest lecturer Alex Hughes

Alex HughesAuthor and Odyssey graduate Alex Hughes will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. Alex was born in Savannah, GA, and moved to the south Atlanta area when she was eight years old. Shortly thereafter, her grandfather handed her a copy of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider series, and a lifelong obsession with scifi was born.

Alex is a 2011 graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, a Semi-Finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, and a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. Her short pieces are published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction and Monster Corral. Clean was a Finalist in the Silver Falchion Award 2013.

Alex’s work is layered, dark, adventurous, and a little funny, with an emphasis on great characters and interesting worlds. She gets her inspiration from history (she majored with a European history focus in college), family members, and headlines, as well as whatever book she has in her hand. Lately she’s been reading neuroscience books; the brain’s a cool, cool place and the mind even more so.

An avid cook and foodie, Alex loves great food of any stripe–even better if she can figure out how to put it together. Great food is like a great book; it has lots of layers that work together beautifully, and the result is delicious and harmonious. She’s working on figuring out Thai curries right now–suggestions welcome!

Alex loves swing dancing, Tetris, music of all kinds, and has been known to get into long conversations with total strangers at restaurants about the Food Network, much to the embarrassment of her sister. She can also balance a spoon on her nose while crossing her eyes, and talk for hours about absolutely nothing.

Congratulations on your recent release of Vacant Alex Hughes Vacant(Mindspace Investigations, #4, released December 2014 from Roc). We’re excited to have you as a guest lecturer this summer, wherein you’ll be lecturing, workshopping, and meeting individually with students. What do you think is the most important advice you can give to developing writers?

Thank you! I’m excited about Vacant, and about the opportunity to teach at Odyssey. The program was a huge push forward for me as a writer, and I hope that I can share some of the lessons I’ve learned in the last few years with the students. Read more…

Interview: Author Kij Johnson, Writer-in-residence

Kij JohnsonWriter-in-residence at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop, Kij Johnson is widely considered one of the top fantasy/science fiction writing teachers in the country. She is the author of three novels—two fantasies set in classical Japan, The Fox Woman and Fudoki, and a Star Trek:The Next Generation novel—and a short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees.

Since 2008, her short fiction has won the Nebula Award (three times), the Hugo, and the World Fantasy Award. In the past she has worked in book publishing, comic books and graphic novels, RPGs and trading card games; managed development and tech-writing groups for Seattle-area tech firms; edited cryptic crosswords; identified Napa cabernets by winery and year while blindfolded; and bouldered an occasional V-5.

She received her Master of Fine Arts from North Carolina State University, and teaches at the University of Kansas, where she is associate director for the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. She splits her time between Seattle and Lawrence.

You are a permanent fixture at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, where you teach novel workshops in addition to classes, and we’re excited to have you as the writer-in-residence at this summer’s Odyssey Workshop.  Share with us the most important advice you can give to developing writers. Read more…

Interview: Guest Lecturer Alma Alexander

Alma AlexanderFantasy author Alma Alexander will be a guest lecturer at 2015’s summer Odyssey Writing Workshop.  Alma Alexander’s life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career.  She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, and touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer who currently shares her life between the Pacific Northwest of the USA (where she lives with her husband and two cats) and the wonderful fantasy worlds of her own imagination. You can find out more about Alma on her website, her Facebook page, or her blog.

Welcome! As a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Workshop, you’ll be lecturing, workshopping, and meeting individually with students. What do you think is the most important advice you can give to developing writers? Read more…

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 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!

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