Odyssey Class of 2016

Front Row (bottom): Farah Naz Rishi, Rebecca Kuang, Writer-in-Residence Mary Robinette Kowal
Middle Row: Rebecca Stooks, Gigi Vernon, Richard Errington, Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos, Joshua Johnson, Wendy Dye, Michael Howard
Back Row (top): Matthew Rettino, Michael Stewart, Daniel Musgrave, Linden Flynn, Matthew Shean, Pablo Valcarcel-Castro, Hal Friesen
Photo taken by Resident Supervisor Jeremy Sim



Odyssey has transformed my writing to a level I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to reach.


In contrast to other workshops I’ve taken, Odyssey was so well organized and well thought out, which meant that I could just focus on the work.

Thank you for doing such a fantastic job of accepting students with a range of ages, backgrounds, tastes, experience, ability. It made for a better dynamic as well as a learning experience. Each student contributed something valuable to make the workshop a success. It wouldn’t have been such a comfortable experience if I’d been the only older writer or the only outlier.


Odyssey is transformative and incredible. There is nothing else like it—no other program—with the level of attention and care that Jeanne Cavelos provides to all students. I don’t think I will ever experience another intensive workshop at such a deep level.

Jeanne Cavelos is a Lady Wonder.


For me, Odyssey was a rising to consciousness. In six weeks I moved from writing by instinct to writing with purpose.


Odyssey is where I found my people.


Odyssey delivered every single thing it promised: An epic journey through the world of fantastic fiction, fierce battles against your literary demons, and a triumphant ending in which you emerge as a whole new writer.


Odyssey is a writer’s paradise where I not only improved my writing but also found my writing family.


Odyssey was an insanely intensive, grueling, and deeply rewarding experience. I feel much better equipped to tackle a career as a professional writer now. Jeanne Cavelos is an incredible instructor, and I feel lucky to have gotten the chance to work with her.


I could not imagine—nor do I want to imagine—undergoing any writing odyssey adventure without Jeanne at the helm of our ship.


Odyssey was a life-changing experience. I have grown and learned so much as a writer. Odyssey is a truly amazing program, and Jeanne is an amazing instructor with an incredible knowledge of writing.


Jeanne pulls back the curtain to reveal the secrets of writing well. She pinpoints the writer’s strengths and weaknesses with lethal accuracy. Odyssey gives you the tools to improve, the courage to persevere, and a family of writers to call your own.


Odyssey is a transformative experience that gives aspiring and semi-pro writers the tools to become truly great writers. No one who has completed Odyssey has an excuse not to succeed.


Jeanne takes the things inside your head, crushes them with Hercules-level strength, and remolds them into beautiful story ideas. It’s like downloading one of those ‘face smoother’ apps on your phone, only for stories, not selfies. She makes you feel smart all the while giving you the tools to become smart and a story-writing machine. Jeanne Cavelos is the key to leveling up your fiction.


I first learned about Odyssey many years ago from the podcast series on iTunes. I had some doubts going in but by the first week I had a whole new perspective on writing and the things you need to keep in your mind to write an effective story. I had read many Writer’s Digest Books before, but was just not applying myself to improve my writing. During the first week at Odyssey I learned all about the causal chain and how it is necessary to make all the events in a story feel inevitable. I had never read plot described in quite this way. After learning this and the importance of character motivation to an effective story, I looked back on what I had written before Odyssey as the imperfect stories they really were. Critiquing stories every day trained me to read more effectively. You learn everything you need to self-diagnose a story and besides that, you bond with your fellow classmates, which exposes you to other ideas and styles you might consider for your own writing. Each class lecture left me energized and that itself should be the biggest tell about whether I thought Odyssey was worthwhile.

Memorable Quotes from the Class of 2016

“I don’t know how unicorn farts smell like, so I couldn’t relate to that.”
—Mike H.

“How do you not fridge a character?” —Rebecca K.
“Put them in the freezer!” —Jeanne

“Being dead is, in fact, a new status quo”
—Mary Robinette Kowal

“I want to add a color to the pus.” —Jeanne
“And a taste.” —Rebecca K.
“It looked like candy corn. I was drawn to it.” —Josh

“God damn Tom Bombadil.”
—Matt D.

“I need to know where they got the chocolate chip cupcakes.”
—Rebecca K.

“How would a chicken hold an axe?”

“Oh, how I long for the days when I could write an ‘As You Know Bob.'”

“Okay, screw it, this is going to be an ‘As You Know Bob’ Story.”

“Ever since you gained omnipotence, it’s been very hard to talk to you, Bob.”

“Bananya!” —Farah

“A god of minor inconveniences.”

“You make the end of the world a beautiful thing.”

“Syntactical suspense.”
—Matthew R.

“I especially enjoy a good unexplained hole.”

“I always keep track of how much people drink in tavern scenes.”
—Matt D.

“I want to see this weasel overthrown.”
—Rebecca K.

“You seem to be the master of putting unrelated nouns in a list.”

“There were some interesting things in there—not the porthole.”
—Deborah DeNicola

“I’m going through something with cereal.”

“I wouldn’t go any creepier than this. This was very creepy for me.”

“Drag me along with you with a shorter leash.”
—Matt D.

“You must answer these questions.”
—Rebecca K., Pablo

“Wise and secretly good but visually cantankerous.”

“Pigs are mean. They go for fingers.”

“It’s so tempting to do evil things to you guys I just can’t tell you.”
—Mary Robinette Kowal

“It didn’t trigger the usual rage and anger I feel at the end of your stories.”

“I wish I had written it.”

“Why do I do this to myself?”

“I feel closer to everyone now that I know their uncle issues.”
—Rebecca K.

“I need something new to either love or hate.”

“I don’t even know what that thing was. It was disgusting.”