The 2009 Experience

The 2009 class of the Odyssey Writing Workshop just graduated in July, and we thought you might like to hear what some of the newest members have to say about their experience:

Meg Spooner

Make no mistake, Odyssey will tear away all your comforting delusions about yourself as a writer. But something happens along the way, a painful–but ultimately hugely rewarding–process of discovering true worth, ability, and uniqueness that replaces those false delusions with the truth: you have a story to tell, and only you can tell it.

Travis Heermann
Author, Heart of the Ronin

I would recommend Odyssey to anyone who wants to write science fiction, fantasy, or horror professionally. Your writing will make quantum leaps in quality during a challenging six weeks. Continue reading “The 2009 Experience”

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Interview: Ginjer Buchanan

Ginjer BuchananGinjer Buchanan will be a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Writing Workshop this summer. Buchanan was born in Pittsburgh, PA. She earned a Sociology degree from Duquesne University, and a master’s in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. She was employed as a social worker in Pittsburgh for two years, and then moved to New York, spending 13 years working for a foster care and adoption agency. She eased into the publishing world in the ’70s by doing freelance work for various SF publishers, including a stint as consulting editor for the Star Trek novel line at Pocket Books. In 1984 she accepted a job as a full-time editor at the Berkeley Publishing Group (now part of Penguin USA). She has had several promotions over the years, the most recent in January of 2007, when she was made editor-in-chief of Ace and Roc, the SF/F imprints of Berkley and NAL. She acquires and edits mostly in those genres but also has several mystery, horror, historical fiction, and non-fiction pop culture writers on her list.

What are the most common problems in the manuscript submissions you receive?

Continue reading “Interview: Ginjer Buchanan”

Interview: Melissa Scott

Melissa ScottMelissa Scott will be a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Writing Workshop this summer. She is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and studied history at Harvard College and Brandeis University, where she earned her Ph.D. in the comparative history program with a dissertation titled “The Victory of the Ancients: Tactics, Technology, and the Use of Classical Precedent.” In 1986, she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2001 she and her late partner and long-time collaborator Lisa A. Barnett won the Lambda Literary Award in SF/Fantasy/Horror for Point of Dreams. Scott has also won Lammies in 1996 for Shadow Man and 1995 for Trouble and Her Friends, having previously been a three-time finalist (for Mighty Good Road, Dreamships, and Burning Bright). Trouble and Her Friends was also shortlisted for the Tiptree. Her most recent solo novel, The Jazz, was named to Locus’s Recommended Reading List for 2000. Her first work of nonfiction, Conceiving the Heavens: Creating the Science Fiction Novel, was published by Heinemann in 1997, and her monologue, “At RaeDean’s Funeral,” has been included in an off-off-Broadway production, Elvis Dreams, as well as several other evenings of Elvis-mania. A second monologue, “Job Hunting,” has been performed in competition and as a part of an evening of Monologues from the Road. Her most recent publications are the short stories “One Horse Town” (in Haunted Hearths, Lethe Press) and “Mister Seeley” (in So Fey, Haworth Press).

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: Melissa Scott”

Interview: Jeffrey A. Carver

Jeffrey A. CarverJeffrey A. Carver will be a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Writing Workshop this summer. He is the author of sixteen science fiction novels, including Sunborn (Tor Books, November 2008). Prior to that, his most recent books were Battlestar Galactica: the Miniseries (a novelization), and Eternity’s End, a grand-scale epic of conflict and mystery in the far future, which was a finalist for the Nebula Award.

His novels Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractors, and The Infinite Sea began his series known as The Chaos Chronicles, a hard science fiction series which continues with Sunborn. Science Fiction Chronicle named Neptune Crossing one of the best science fiction novels of the year, while Kirkus called Strange Attractors “dazzling, thrilling, innovative…probably Carver’s best effort to date.” Periodically he returns to his Star Rigger universe (Star Rigger’s Way, Dragons in the Stars, and others), a favorite haunt for readers.

Carver’s writing involves elements of both hard science and psychology, and is character-focused while exploring possibilities for science and technology in the future, including nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and the possibilities for travel (and both contact and conflict) among the stars. His novels and stories explore not just technological but moral, ethical, and spiritual challenges for tomorrow.

In addition to writing, Carver teaches. In 1995, he developed and hosted an educational TV series, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing–a live, interactive broadcast into middle school classrooms. Reaching into schools across the U.S., the show encouraged student writers to stretch their imaginations and learn the basic skills of storytelling and writing. Much of that teaching is now free online for aspiring writers at writesf.com. He also teaches regularly at the New England Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf, Vermont, and at the Ultimate Science Fiction Writing Workshop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A native of Huron, Ohio, Carver is a graduate of Brown University, with graduate work in marine resources management at the University of Rhode Island. He has been a high school wrestler, a scuba diving instructor, a quahog diver, a UPS sorter, a technical writer and developmental editor, a private pilot, and a stay-at-home dad. He lives with his family in Arlington, Massachusetts, and is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and The Authors Guild. For more information, visit his website at starrigger.net.

Several of Carver’s novels (and some short stories) are available for free download as ebooks at http://www.starrigger.net/Downloads.htm.

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: Jeffrey A. Carver”

Interview: Jack Ketchum

Jack KetchumJack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk–a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life. He will be a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Writing Workshop this summer. His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. He personally disagrees but is perfectly happy to let you decide for yourself. His short story “The Box” won a 1994 Bram Stoker Award from the HWA, his story “Gone” won again in 2000–and in 2003 he won Stokers for both best collection for Peaceable Kingdom and best long fiction for Closing Time. He has written eleven novels, the latest of which are Red, Ladies’ Night, and The Lost. His stories are collected in The Exit At Toledo Blade Boulevard, Broken on the Wheel of Sex, Sleep Disorder (with Edward Lee), Peaceable Kingdom and Closing Time and Other Stories. His novella The Crossings was cited by Stephen King in his speech at the 2003 National Book Awards. Four of his novels have been filmed  — The Lost, The Girl Next Door, Red and most recently Offspring, for which he wrote the screenplay. You can visit his website at http://www.jackketchum.net/ .

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?

Not sure what you mean by “writing seriously” since it seems to me writing is always pretty serious.  You’re exposing yourself, after all — and willingly.  It’s essentially a somewhat crazy thing to do.  In junior high and high school it was all about popularity, probably.  The first thing I ever published was in the seventh grade — a mimeographed weekly paper called THE DAILY BLAB, a class-clown kind of thing which my homeroom teacher encouraged to reign in my urge to disrupt pretty much everything I possibly could.  I graduated from that to high school poet laureate — their designation, not mine — wherein I got to show all the girls my sensitive side.  By then I was hooked though, and all through college I was reading precociously and writing constantly.  The goal was the literary magazine for prose and poetry and stage production for my one-acts, with which I had some success.  I was also submitting all over the place, going through the back pages of The Writer, at which I had no success at all.  Somehow after college I got it into my head that I was either the next Harold Pinter or the next Henry Miller.  Sort of hard to reconcile the two, doncha think?  So that for years thereafter, that was where the problem lay.  It was only after a dozen or so rewrites of my massive “road” book a la Henry that I finally burned the only copies of the damn thing in our  fireplace, and — free at last — not long after sold my first short story to Swank, a wannabe Playboy.  So, say that I was twelve baring my disturbed, disruptive soul in THE DAILY BLAB, and thirty selling that equally disturbed story to Swank, it took me eighteen years of trying.  And they said in school that I had problems with my attention span.

How many stages does your work go through before you send it off to a publisher? How much of your time is spent writing the first draft, and how much time is spent in revision?  What sort of revisions do you do?

Continue reading “Interview: Jack Ketchum”

ODYSSEY APPLICATION DEADLINE APRIL 8

ODYSSEY APPLICATION DEADLINE APRIL 8

There’s only a few more days to apply for this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop! If you’re serious about improving your writing, Odyssey provides a great opportunity to work with Jeanne Cavelos, former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell and winner of the World Fantasy Award. Jeanne will critique your work in depth, show you your strengths and weaknesses, and teach you how to attack those weak areas. With writer-in-residence Carrie Vaughn and guest lecturers Jack Ketchum, Melissa Scott, Patricia Bray, Jeffrey A. Carver, and Ace/Roc editor-in-chief Ginjer Buchanan, we’re going to have a great session.

You can find more information here www.odysseyworkshop.org and the application form here http://www.sff.net/odyssey/apply.html.

Interview: Patricia Bray

Interview by Shara Saunsaucie White

Patricia BrayPatricia Bray will be a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Writing Workshop this summer. She is the author of a dozen novels, including Devlin’s Luck, which won the 2003 Compton Crook Award for the best first novel in the field of science fiction or fantasy. A multi-genre author whose career spans both Regency romance and epic fantasy, Patricia has had her books translated into Russian, German, Hebrew and Portuguese. She is a two-time co-chair of the Southern Tier Writer’s conference, and her articles on the writer’s craft have appeared in numerous publications, including Broadsheet, Nink, STARbytes and RWA’s Keys to Success: A Professional Writer’s Career Handbook.

Patricia lives in upstate New York, where she combines her writing with a full-time career as an I/T professional, ensuring that she is never more than a few feet away from a keyboard. Her latest novel is The Final Sacrifice, the concluding volume in The Chronicles of Josan, which was released by Bantam Spectra in July 2008. You can visit her website at http://www.sff.net/people/patriciabray/.

Once you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first piece? What do you feel you were doing wrong in your writing in those early days?

Continue reading “Interview: Patricia Bray”