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.

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Graduate’s Corner: The Sprint or the Marathon? by Carrie Vaughn

Carrie Vaughn is the bestselling author of a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show. The ninth book in the series, Kitty’s Big Trouble, has just been released from Tor Books. She’s also written young adult (Voices of Dragons, Steel) and stand-alone fantasy (Discord’s Apple, After the Golden Age). Her short stories can be found in many publications and anthologies, and one of her short stories has been nominated for the Hugo Award in 2011. She graduated from Odyssey in 1998, and returned as writer-in-residence in 2009. Visit her website at www.carrievaughn.com.


I never made a conscious decision to transition from writing short stories to novels or vice versa. Continue reading “Graduate’s Corner: The Sprint or the Marathon? by Carrie Vaughn”

Podcast #38: Carrie Vaughn

Podcast #38 is now available for download here.

Carrie Vaughn served as writer-in-residence at Odyssey 2009. In her lecture on goal setting and building a writing career, Carrie discussed important strategies that can help writers to persist and succeed in the publishing industry. In this excerpt, Carrie discusses the insanity of the publishing business. She explains that many writers are discouraged by setting unrealistic goals that deal with issues beyond their control. She suggests that writers instead set goals only about those things they can control, such as how much they will write, what efforts they will make to improve, and how often they will submit their work to markets. Those things that writers can’t control, such as whether a story will sell, whether a story will sell to a particular publisher, whether it will receive an award, whether an agent will represent a novel, should be separated from goals, so they don’t needlessly frustrate and discourage the author. By setting reasonable goals and focusing on what can be controlled, writers can build their skills, work through the tough times, and make progress toward achieving those things that can’t be controlled. Carrie explains how goals and habits kept her from giving up on writing and led to her eventual success.

Carrie VaughnCarrie Vaughn is the New York Times Bestselling author of a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. Continue reading “Podcast #38: Carrie Vaughn”

Podcast #36: Carrie Vaughn

Podcast #36 is now available for download here.

As writer-in-residence at Odyssey 2009, Carrie Vaughn provided a week of great lectures and worked closely with students. In her lecture on suspense, pacing, and the delivery of information, Carrie discussed various techniques authors can use to create suspense and control pacing, and the role that information plays in both of these elements. In this podcast, Carrie discusses the importance of drawing out key moments, creating emotion and expectation. Slowing down at the right places can help you generate suspense and manipulate the reader. Carrie also explains how the order of information determines the emotion and effect of the story. Changing the order in which you reveal events, or the place at which you reveal a piece of information, can completely change the impact of the story. Carrie differentiates those situations in which withholding information can provide a big payoff, and those in which withholding information alienates the reader. She also stresses that information can make the reader worry, which is good. Even better can be providing information but leading the reader to misinterpret it, so understanding only comes later. The expectations of the reader can also be used to create suspense. Does the reader expect the character will survive the story unharmed? Or is the reader terrified that the character may not survive? Playing with reader expectations can be more effective than just surprising the reader. Carrie also discusses some common mistakes writers make in creating false suspense.

Carrie VaughnCarrie Vaughn is the New York Times Bestselling author of a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. Publishers Weekly said that “Vaughn’s universe is convincing and imaginative.” Kitty and The Midnight Hour, the first book in the series, has over a hundred thousand copies in print. The seventh novel in the series, Kitty’s House of Horrors, was released in 2010. She’s also published many short stories in various anthologies and magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales, and is a contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series.

Carrie graduated from the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop in 1998 and was excited to return as an instructor. “Once I was but the student. Now, I am the master.” Oh, and she’s also a big Star Wars fan. But she really does have a Masters in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She credits the intensive Odyssey experience with helping her cross the great divide between unpublished and published, and with setting her firmly on the road of professional writing, with the skills she learned and contacts she made.

A lifelong science fiction fan and reader (her parents both read science fiction), Carrie worked the traditional series of day jobs for about twelve years before turning to writing full time. She survived her Air Force brat childhood and managed to put down roots in Colorado, where she lives in Boulder with her dog, Lily, and too many hobbies. Visit her website at www.carrievaughn.com.


For more information about Odyssey, its graduates and instructors, please visit our website at http://www.odysseyworkshop.org.

Podcast #35: Carrie Vaughn

Podcast #35 is now available for download here.

Carrie Vaughn was our writer-in-residence at Odyssey 2009, where she delivered a week of lectures, participated in workshopping, and worked one-on-one with students. Her experience as an Odyssey student turned bestselling writer was invaluable to students. Her first lecture of the week covered matching the right idea with the right length. In this podcast, Carrie explores the importance of being able to write pieces at all lengths, and how to distinguish a short story idea from a novel idea. She suggests that considering the reaction you want from the reader is key to understanding the appropriate length. Are you looking for a quick, sucker-punch-type reaction or a more complex, resonant reaction? Another way to find the right length is to consider the core idea of the story and how many scenes, characters, and plotlines you need to illustrate the idea. Carrie also explains how you can manipulate length, turning a novel idea into a short-story idea, if you can’t come up with short ideas, or turning a short-story idea into a novel idea, if you can’t come up with long ideas. She also discusses ideas for series or sagas. Carrie uses her own short story, “A Hunter’s Ode to his Bait,” as raw material for turning a short story into a novel. You can read her story here, if you’d like to play along.

Carrie VaughnCarrie Vaughn is the New York Times Bestselling author of a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. Continue reading “Podcast #35: Carrie Vaughn”

Interview: Carrie Vaughn

Interview by Shara Saunsaucie White

Carrie VaughnCarrie Vaughn is the New York Times Bestselling author of a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. Publishers Weekly said that “Vaughn’s universe is convincing and imaginative.” Kitty and The Midnight Hour, the first book in the series, has over a hundred thousand copies in print. The two newest books, Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand and Kitty Raises Hell, will appear early in 2009. She’s also published many short stories in various anthologies and magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales, and is a contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series.

Carrie graduated from the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop in 1998 and is excited to return as writer-in-residence for Odyssey 2009. “Once I was but the student. Now, I am the master.” Oh, and she’s also a big Star Wars fan. But she really does have a Masters in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She credits the intensive Odyssey experience with helping her cross the great divide between unpublished and published, and with setting her firmly on the road of professional writing, with the skills she learned and contacts she made.

A lifelong science fiction fan and reader (her parents both read science fiction), Carrie worked the traditional series of day jobs for about twelve years before turning to writing full time. She survived her Air Force brat childhood and managed to put down roots in Colorado, where she lives in Boulder with her dog, Lily, and too many hobbies. Visit her website at www.carrievaughn.com.

Can you talk about your pre-Odyssey writing process? What kind of writing schedule, if any, did you keep?

Continue reading “Interview: Carrie Vaughn”