Odyssey graduate and Odyssey Online instructor Donna Glee Williams was born in Mexico, the daughter of a Kentucky farm-girl and a Texas Aggie large-animal veterinarian. She’s been a lot of places; now she makes her home in the mountains of western North Carolina, but the place she lived the longest and still calls home is New Orleans. These days, she earns her daily bread by writing and helping other writers bring their creative visions to light, but in the past she’s done the dance as turnabout crew (aka, “maid”) on a schooner, as a librarian, as an environmental activist, as a registered nurse, as a teacher and seminar leader, and for a long stint as a professional student. The craft societies in her novels The Braided Path (Edge, 2014) and Dreamers (Edge, 2016) owe a lot to the time she’s spent hanging out in villages in Mexico, Spain, Iceland, Norway, Croatia, Italy, Israel, Turkey, India, and Pakistan. As a finalist in the 2015 Roswell Short Science Fiction Awards, her short story “Saving Seeds” was performed onstage in Hollywood by Jasika Nicole. Her speculative fiction has been recognized by Honorable Mentions from both the Writers of the Future competition and Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction collection. She earned an MFA and PhD from Louisiana State University, knows how to brain-tan a deer hide, drives a stick-shift, and has eaten roadkill more than once.
**IRONY ALERT: In the tradition of satirical essays like “A Modest Proposal,” Donna Glee offers the exact opposite of the advice you should take to create strong emotional moments in your work.**
An ecstatic moment in writing is a scene in which the emotion or action is so intense that it invites readers to step out of normal reality and into an altered state of consciousness. Ecstatic moments heighten our senses, intensify our experience, fiddle with the flow of time, and connect us to a big, fat Something larger than ourselves. They blow the roof off normality and leave its ruins smoking in the dust.
Continue reading ““Ecstatic Moments and How to Destroy Them” by Donna Glee Williams”
Every 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 Odyssey 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.
Jason Heller is an author, editor, and journalist whose nonfiction has appeared in many publications, including Clarkesworld (where he’s currently the nonfiction editor), The A.V. Club (where he served as Denver City Editor and is currently a regular contributor), Weird Tales, Fantasy Magazine, Alternative Press, and Tor.com. His writing on popular culture appears in Scribner’s A.V. Club book, Inventory. He’s a 2009 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, and his science fiction/fantasy/horror short stories have been published in Apex Magazine, Sybil’s Garage, Polluto, Expanded Horizons, Farrago’s Wainscot, M-Brane SF, the anthology Descended From Darkness, and others. Quirk Books released his debut novel, the satirical alternate-history Taft 2012, as well as his Pirates of the Caribbean tie-in, The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook. He can be found at www.jason-heller.com.
Congratulations on your debut novel Taft 2012! What sort of feedback are you getting? Continue reading “Interview: Jason Heller”
Craig Shaw Gardner will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. He sold his first short story in 1977, and began writing full time in 1987. He has published over thirty novels ranging from his first, A Malady of Magics, to the Changeling War fantasy trilogy, written by “Peter Garrison,” to the horror novel Dark Whispers, written by “Chris Blaine.” Along the way, he’s done a number of media tie-ins, one of which–the novelization of Batman–became a New York Times bestseller. He’s also the author of more than forty short horror and fantasy stories, which have mostly appeared in original anthologies. Gardner has also served as both President and Trustee for the Horror Writers Association.
You write a lot of horror, but you also write humorous and epic fantasy. How do your techniques and approaches change when you write in these different genres?
Continue reading “Interview: Craig Shaw Gardner”
Michael Arnzen will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey workshop. He has been publishing outrageous horror fiction, SF, poetry, literary criticism, instructional essays on writing, and offbeat humor since 1989. Across his career, Arnzen has won four Bram Stoker Awards, an International Horror Guild Award, and several “Year’s Best Horror Story” accolades and reprints. His novels include Play Dead and Grave Markings. The best of his short stories and poems are collected in Proverbs for Monsters, which won the Bram Stoker Award in 2007. Always the experimentalist, his writing has appeared on Palm Pilots and postcards, short art films (“Exquisite Corpse”) and creepy online animation. His novel Play Dead even inspired a deck of custom-designed playing cards.
When he’s not writing, Arnzen teaches suspense and horror writing fulltime in the MFA degree program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University, near Pittsburgh, PA. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon, where he studied “the uncanny” in popular culture, as well as an M.A. in English from the University of Idaho, where he wrote his second novel. Arnzen sits on the editorial board for two literary journals associated with genre fiction (Paradoxa and Dissections) and has edited college literary magazines and more. He is presently working on a guidebook for authors, a book of literary criticism, and several horror titles.
Arnzen taught humor in fantasy at Odyssey in 2007 and students had a lot of laughs. Look for “Stripping Away the Mask”—his essay on crafting horrifying scenes in fiction—in the recently published book, The Writer’s Workshop of Horror (Woodland Press, 2009).
Once you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first piece? What were you doing wrong in your writing in those early days?
Continue reading “Interview: Michael Arnzen”