CLASS OF 2013
Front Row (seated): Susan Hicks Wong, Anna Maria Bortolotto, Writer-in-Residence Nancy Holder, Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos, Emily Hoffman, Emily Cataneo, Danielle DeLisle
Back Row (standing): David Yorick, Kathrin Köhler, Chris Kelworth, J. R. Hargenrader, Jeremy Sim, J. W. Alden, Sofie Bird, Katherine van der Vliet, Wendy Lambert, Bill Powell
J. W. Alden
You hear the term “life-changing experience” tossed around a lot, and usually it doesn’t mean much. Usually, it’s a marketing cliché. But with Odyssey, I can’t think of a more accurate descriptor. My life has been changed.
Amazing course, amazing lectures, amazing classmates, and an amazing instructor—I’ll never forget my time here.
There are so many courses that pass around the same rules of writing. At Odyssey, I learned far more than I thought there ever could be to know, in greater depth and detail than I thought possible. Odyssey has transformed how I view the act of writing, and how I view myself as a writer and a person.
Anna Maria Bortolotto
I felt like I had won the lottery when I was admitted, and now that I have been here I have discovered that the pot was many times greater than I first thought.
These have been the most impactful six weeks of my life. Jeanne combines generosity with knowledge. She really believes in the material she teaches and in her task to share that information. I will be eternally grateful to her.
If you want to be a writer, you need to go to Odyssey. For six weeks, fearless workshop leader/evil genius Jeanne will help you take your writing apart, pick out the flaws and start to build it back up again. You’ll meet people just as weird and geeky as you are. You’ll throw yourself into your writing 100 percent, you’ll sweat and cry, and you’ll come out the other side a different person.
Jeanne is Gandalf, Merlin, and Dumbledore all rolled into one. My writing improved in ways I didn’t even know it needed to be improved with her teaching.
J. R. Hargenrader
If you are serious about writing speculative fiction, do yourself (and your readers) a favor and attend Odyssey.
If the world legalizes cloning for humans, Jeanne needs to be the first. She can only counsel and mentor so many writers, but every writer who wants to be a writer who writes, not a writer who dreams, should come here. Therefore she should be cloned and placed in strategic places around the world so every writer can go and learn from her.
I’ve learned so much from living writing 23 hours a day for six weeks, and meeting so many amazing writers and editors. If you’re ready to put in hard work on your science fiction, fantasy, or horror writing, then Odyssey is your next step.
Odyssey has changed my life. My fellow attendees (my Odfellows!) have changed my life. Jeanne has changed my life. They have had this effect on me because they have significantly changed me as a writer, and because I have learned, through all that Odyssey offers, that I am a writer, with all the wonderful and painful things that entails.
Jeanne’s talent is that she cares deeply. Well, she has many talents, actually, but I think they all stem from her compassion. Her insight is spot on, her knowledge of writing, editing, and the profession is impressive, her critiques are more helpful than I could have hoped or imagined they could be. She has continued to amaze me throughout these six weeks. I am ever so grateful to her for creating such a supportive, honest, diligent, and fun(!) atmosphere and culture.
Jeanne is brilliant, compassionate, insightful. Odyssey, by virtue of her guidance, is transformative. I will never be the same again, never write the same again for having attended. The bar has been raised and it has been raised high. Go fly! Because of Jeanne, I will shake out my wings and fly.
If you haven’t written a bestseller yet, you need to come to Odyssey. You know you’re a good writer, your friends love your stuff, maybe you’ve had a few small publications. Awesome. You’re ready to come here and discover you have no idea what you’re doing.
At Odyssey, you will learn a methodical, structured, tool-oriented approach to every major aspect of writing fiction. You will apply these tools and do an extensive critique of at least two stories every day. You will discover that you can write a new story every week, and that you can survive seeing your story crash and burn over and over again as each of your fellow writers gives a critique.
You will learn that “writing” means organizing words in specific ways to induce imagination in complete strangers. The story as a whole may always remain a mystery, but so many elements of writing can and must be studied and practiced deliberately if you are ever going to write for real. Stop slogging down the same cul-de-sac in isolation. You deserve to learn this craft. Come to Odyssey.
It’s hard for me to imagine a workshop experience better than Odyssey. Even the Clarions don’t provide the amount of incisive, technical knowledge that I learned over the past six weeks. Jeanne is probably the best writing teacher in the world. She will show you your flaws and strengths, tell you how to improve on them, and support, guide and celebrate with you as you make breakthrough after breakthrough. If you think you have writing figured out, or if you feel dissatisfied with your work but don’t know why, apply to Odyssey. I almost didn’t, and it would have been the worst mistake of my writing life.
Katherine van der Vliet
Odyssey is one of those rare and terrific places that can’t be described, only experienced. It was challenging, exhilarating, terrifying, and inspiring. It has revolutionized how I read and how I write.
Susan Hicks Wong
Jeanne and the Odyssey writing experience have helped me address problems I didn’t even realize were there and have helped me with tools and mechanics to make my writing stronger.
Jeanne never stopped being a scientist. Scientific process is about what is observable, measurable, and repeatable. She helps students identify and target precise writing weaknesses, address them strategically, and make measurable progress. This method, when repeated on each of a writer’s personal weaknesses, creates observable success. Most artists don’t naturally operate this way. More would be successful if they did.
Memorable Quotes from the Class of 2013
“We Don’t Do Normal”
“Process the talking hippos quickly.”
[In answer to: “Why is entropy is always increasing?”] “Because the cosmic goldfish is always nibbling.”
“If I knew who you were I would think you were awesome.”
“Why do we need a key for the cosmic goldfish?”
“Awesome image: a bride at a wedding covered with rats.”
“Emily’s got lots of friends back home: mostly girls in haunted houses.”
“The phrase ‘too stupid to live’ comes to mind.”
“I nailed his sorry ass in that story.”
—Dallas Mayr (Jack Ketchum)
“Yeah, I guess we should write and stuff.”
“It’s not as gross as I wanted it to be.”
“Because it is not a scream if it is not screamed.”
“Could you scream when you die so I know to run?”
“I may have crossed into Team Concrete for this story.”
“Good job going to the dark side. But come back.”
Emily H: We’ve decided you’re an upper-level minion.
Brad: I’ve been promoted?
“This industry messes up your mind.”
“Writers are people who have strange and random obsessions.”
“Story is about the biggest moment in a person’s life.”
“I’m always a sucker for portal fantasy.”
“My favorite part in the story is p. 15 when the chipmunks die.”
“Collins and Falvey are essentially writer’s sweatshops: Write. Sweat. Repeat.”
“I’d like to remain ambiguous about whether or not I’m on Team Ambiguous.”
“Make people suffer; I enjoy that.”
“Choose your strangeness.”
“I like Mrs. Miller in this story; I’d love to see her killed.”
“We’ve lost many good writers in the middle of a story.”
“It’s never interesting when a plan works: whatever can go wrong, should go wrong.”
“Avoid the Tolkien troll toe.”
“It’s not the end of the world; it’s just the end of the story.”
“Yes! Hurt that puppy!”
“I have scheduled a moment of incoherence at 11am.”
“Not all zombies have heads.”
“I felt so horrible reading it. It was great.”
“I’m also on the calico cat committee.”
“All the wonderful things are wonderful.”
“Writers are emotional, driven, insecure, and BESERKO.”
“We argued over frickin’ whipped cream.”
“Your agent is not your therapist.”
“The answer is: Write some more.”
“Editors can be super-duper wrong.”
“All that glitters is not vampire.”
“Writers are soulmates of the word.”
“I am a mom. I totally get eating my young.”
“A redwood died for this [book]?”
“Jeanne will give you a few more weeks before she crushes your soul.”
“Someone got paid to write Sharktopus.”
“I can totally contradict myself; I’m the editor.”
“I had a problem with the science.”
“. . . and cannibals. Everything’s better with cannibals.”
“Cannibalistic dancing tacos.”
“That particular trifecta is unfortunate.”
“I was thinking manic-pixie-dream-house.”
“I love the wrestling weasels.”
“I killed the turtle!”
Karaoke photos may or may not be available upon request.