Graduate Essay: “Into the Deep End” by Malcolm Carvalho

Malcolm Carvalho is a graduate of the 2021 Odyssey Writing Workshop.  He writes science fiction and poetry. His work has been featured in several literary journals and magazines, including 365 Tomorrows, Kitaab, Bengaluru Review, and Muse India. Most recently, his poetry has been featured in the anthology A Letter, A Poem, A Home. He blogs at grainsofthought.wordpress.com. He also facilitates poetry workshops and performs improv comedy in his adopted city, Bangalore.

Malcolm was the 2021 recipient of The Quantum Entanglement Scholarship. Funded anonymously by an Odyssey graduate, The Quantum Entanglement Scholarship provides support to an outstanding writer of science fiction each year. The scholarship awards $1,000 toward tuition.


When I came to Odyssey, I had made a small list of the skills I wanted to work on. I wanted to focus on creating stronger characters and better plot resolutions. I wanted to know what I was missing in my stories.

Continue reading “Graduate Essay: “Into the Deep End” by Malcolm Carvalho”

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”

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”

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”

Graduate Essay: “My Odyssey Experience” by F. P. Rahe

F. P. Rahe is a 2020 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. She is an alumna of the 2019 Iowa Young Writers’ Studio and has been recognized at the national level by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. When not reading or writing, she enjoys making omelets, criticizing Socrates, and hanging out with her family.


I applied to Odyssey in March of 2020 because I wanted to make a serious improvement in my writing. I had been working on my writing for years before that point, hammering away at novels and short stories each day. My writing was competent prose-wise, but not exceptional. I had only a slight instinctual grasp of the vagaries of character and plot. Causal chains were a concept I was utterly unfamiliar with. This ignorance of the conscious craft of writing impacted my work in many extremely negative ways. Among other things, I was unable to recognize or address many of the problems in my stories, preventing me from making valuable progress. I knew I needed to improve; I hoped Odyssey would show me how.

Continue reading “Graduate Essay: “My Odyssey Experience” by F. P. Rahe”

Graduate Essay: “Is Odyssey the Right Workshop for You?” by Libby Barringer

Libby Barringer is a 2020 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. She writes fantasy and science fiction, and she lives in the New York Hudson Valley with her husband and their excellent cat. She earned her PhD in political science in 2016 from UCLA, and when not writing, she teaches courses in political philosophy and literature with Bard College and with the Bard Prison Initiative.


If you are thinking about attending Odyssey, chances are you are grappling with a few big questions: Is this the right workshop for me? Will this help my writing, and will this help me in my professional career? What do attendees actually do for all six weeks of classes? How much more is there really to learn about writing, and can the workshop really deliver? Is it really as intense as everyone says?

Continue reading “Graduate Essay: “Is Odyssey the Right Workshop for You?” by Libby Barringer”

OdBlog Flashback: “My Odyssey Online Experience” by Kodiak Julian

This winter, Odyssey Online is once again offering the course One Brick at a Time: Crafting Compelling Scenes, taught by award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford. The following essay, in which author and Odyssey Online graduate Kodiak Julian talks about her experience with the class, was originally published here on September 9, 2018.

The application deadline for this winter’s Odyssey Online courses is December 7, 2020.


Kodiak-headshot

Kodiak Julian is a graduate of Reed College and the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Together with Jamaica Zoglman, she cohosts the weekly podcast, Spirit of the Endeavor, which explores the pursuit of beauty, mystery and the sublime in everyday life. She lives with her husband and son in Yakima, Washington, where she teaches truly magnificent high school students. Her work appears in Lightspeed, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Grimoire Magazine, the Writers of the Future anthology, and in the Witches, Stitches, and Bitches anthology. She is frequently mesmerized by watching chickens.

Continue reading “OdBlog Flashback: “My Odyssey Online Experience” by Kodiak Julian”

Graduate Essay: “What to Expect from Odyssey Online” by J.A. Schimmel

headshot2020J.A. Schimmel is a 2018 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, as well as several of the Odyssey Online Classes. When the world is not on fire, she divides her time between Illinois and Michigan while writing speculative fiction and slowly racking up rejections.


Once upon a time, I worked on writing creative fiction mostly on my own. Inevitably, I came to the end of where writing in isolation and studying published works would allow me to grow as a writer. I could see that in my work, but I couldn’t identify where my weaknesses were and improve on them. So… how to solve this issue? Continue reading “Graduate Essay: “What to Expect from Odyssey Online” by J.A. Schimmel”

“Make Your Big Moments Sing!” by Barbara Ashford

barbara ashfordAward-winning novelist and librettist Barbara Ashford will be teaching the Odyssey Online class “The Heart of the Matter: Bringing Emotional Resonance to Your Storytelling” this winter (application deadline: December 7, 2019). 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 graduate of the Odyssey workshop, Barbara has taught seven previous 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.


Before I began writing fiction, I worked as an actress in musical theatre. Those years not only gave me the inspiration for my novel Spellcast, but taught me a lot about creating memorable moments in fiction. Continue reading ““Make Your Big Moments Sing!” by Barbara Ashford”

Graduate Essay: Linden A. Lewis, “How to Create a Novel from a Short Story”

LindenALewisOFFICIALAuthorPhotoLinden A. Lewis is a queer writer and world wanderer currently living in Madrid with three American cats who have little kitty passports. Tall and tattooed, Linden exists only because they’ve stopped burning witches. Linden graduated the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2016, and their first novel, The First Sister, will be released by Skybound Books in Spring 2020.


I was in the query trenches for over a year when I realized I needed to focus on something else. The novel I had poured my heart and soul into brought only rejection after rejection—or even worse, silence—and I was falling deeper into what I thought of as “writer’s depression,” or the belief that I would never write something good enough. Continue reading “Graduate Essay: Linden A. Lewis, “How to Create a Novel from a Short Story””

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