Front Row: Writer-in-Residence Melanie Tem, Michael Choi, Darin Hlavaz, Miranda Forman, Brigitte McCray
Second Row: Michael Reed McLaughlin, Cecilia Dockins, Olivia Fowler, Lauren O’Donnell, Writer-in-Residence Steve Rasnic Tem
Third Row: Karen Rochnik, Holly Schofield, Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos, Wayne Bartlett
Back Row: Michael Main, Arley Sorg, JT Howard, Chip Houser

Photo taken by Resident Supervisor Olivia Do (a.k.a. Evil Underling)

Wayne Bartlett

Odyssey 2014: Great experience! For me, the value was the critiquing of my work by experienced and professional writer-editors and by the other Odyssey members. Jeanne’s input in particular was very instructive and helpful, and that in a strong field.

Michael Choi

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” —Robert Frost

Jeanne, thank you for the awakening . . . as well as the kick in the ass and the hugs.

Cecilia Dockins

A writing career has all the elements of a horror story: self-doubt creeping in the closet, murderous frustration hiding under the bed, and loneliness peeking around the corner. Odyssey is a totem, a working flashlight when yours has failed, a program that will utterly transform you as a writer and give you the tools to survive.

Miranda Forman

I have been part of many workshops and writing groups over the past five years, but Odyssey was by far the most informative, rewarding, and impactful. Through six weeks and six stories, critiqued by fellow students, established authors, and Jeanne Cavelos, my understanding of narrative, along with how I write stories, changed drastically. It was an honor to read other students’ stories with more focus than I thought I could, and have my stories treated with such care in turn. Now when I watch a movie, read a novel, or revise my own work, a voice inside me says, “That’s a great way to reveal exposition!” or, “This story rambles. It would be better if it more closely followed a three-act structure.” This new way of thinking has provided me with the ability to not only see where my stories are going off the rails, but has given me the tools to learn how to put my stories back on course.

However, Odyssey extends far beyond craft. Perhaps even more valuable are the relationships I’ve formed with other students. Only two weeks after Odyssey, I’d gotten two rounds of critiquing on a story from other students, and my roommate and I text almost every day about our writing and what we’re hoping to get done tomorrow. I still have a LOT to learn, but I’m relatively certain that the people I met at Odyssey will help me reach my goals, and I hope I can help them reach theirs.

Olivia Fowler

I cannot believe how much I have learned here. I have seen a marked improvement in my work. My last submission—a quickly written draft—was noticeably stronger than stories I worked months on before attending Odyssey. If anyone had told me that was even possible I would not have believed them, but it really is true.

Darin Hlavaz

If words are the trees in the forest of a story, the author is a woodsman blazing a trail for the reader. But trails can meander, loop, and the woodsman lose his way without a wider perspective apart from the trees. The Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop provides a bluff upon which the author can stand to survey the lay of his work and better plot his trails. Daily workshops provide insight not only to the author’s effectiveness as a trailblazer but to that of his peers, which ultimately yields an invaluable tool to the artist: objectivity. Of all the tools gifted by the Dark Queen of the Wood—her Fey Majesty Jeanne Cavelos—the ability to shape a more objective perspective of my work so to better gauge where my trails meander and where they cleave fast to the most engaging contours of the land was by far the most rewarding, appreciated, and unexpected. I thought I’d gain hatchets, axes, perhaps a spade or a pick, but instead I was gifted a mountain from which I can look out across my forest vista and divine the best trail to blaze. Powerful magic. And I am so grateful for the opportunity.

Chip Houser

Jeanne is scary in all the right ways. We the Scared dubbed her a “Jeannius” because she’s scary smart, scary organized, and scary good at teaching how to become better readers and writers. Jeanne is other positive scaries as well—many others—but you’ll have to attend Odyssey to discover those for yourself. Sometimes it’s good to be scared.

I had many expectations coming to Odyssey, and they were all met or exceeded in the first two weeks. One thing I did not expect, because I hadn’t thought about it, was how proud and humbled I was to be included in a group of authors of the caliber I discovered in my fellow students.

JT Howard

Jeanne is an amazing, supportive, and nurturing mentor. This has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life, and I say that as a veteran of the Marine Corps who has spent a significant amount of time in combat zones.

This is the best investment that I have ever made in myself. I think it was worth every penny and every minute away from home, loved ones and work.

I was completely unprepared for how amazing and special this workshop was for me.

Michael Main

Odyssey was a writing workshop, but I was unable to learn one aspect of writing: how to put into words exactly how amazing the Odyssey experience was. The combination of writing, critiquing others’ writing, and incomparable lectures and discussions with Jeanne was a transformative experience for me. I learned more during these six weeks than I had in my previous twelve years of writing fiction. I want to mention that my best mode of learning is not in a classroom (in fact, it is probably my worst way)—but the lectures were perfect for me; I should also mention that I am a major introvert, but the living arrangements couldn’t have been better for me. I had plenty of time on my own to write and nearby new friends to talk with and grow close to.

Brigitte McCray

I have three graduate degrees, but I can easily say that Jeanne Cavelos is the best instructor I’ve ever had. I came to Odyssey with specific ideas about what the problems were in my fiction. During the first week, I learned I had problems with my fiction that I didn’t even realize I had. Jeanne, though, teaches us that those problems should not overwhelm fiction writers; instead, she teaches us how to solve them. I now have the skills that I believe will help me succeed as a fiction writer.

Michael Reed McLaughlin

The Odyssey Writing Workshop was the best writing experience of my life, which is no surprise since Jeanne is the best teacher I’ve ever had!

It was a truly helpful, instructive, inspiring, and enjoyable experience. Now that I’m home and a few weeks have passed, I’m beginning to realize that it was not only the best writing experience of my life but one of the best experiences of my life.

Thank you, Saint Anselm College, for hosting us!

Lauren O’Donnell

Odyssey has been one of the best and most important experiences of my life. Jeanne is amazing and unique, and it has been an honor to learn from her. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of the class of 2014. I look forward to learning with them and from them for years to come.

Karen Rochnik

Every aspect of this amazing odyssey made me a better writer. Before I even arrived, Jeanne had a solid grasp of my current skill level, my strengths and, most importantly, my weaknesses. I was blown away time after time listening to her incredibly detailed and incisive critiques, both of my stories and of my classmates’. She guided us through a learning experience that was a skillful combination of lecture, class discussion, deep practice, critique sessions and, of course, a hell of a lot of writing. Yet it didn’t stop there. Jeanne helped me with my personal success plan and demystified the process of publication. I will succeed in becoming a professional writer of speculative fiction by a combination of my own determination and because of what I learned at Odyssey. I’m still pinching myself that I got to be here!

Holly Schofield

I came to understand about plot arcs—it’s possible to have continuous excitement and emotional engagement for six full weeks!

I learned about character development—it’s possible to write a story you are proud of in only a week!

I improved my grammar—“Can’t do this” should be “Can so!”

I learned proper spelling—“Genius” should be spelled “Jeanne-ius!”

Odyssey rocks!

Arley Sorg

Regardless of how much you may think you know about writing, fiction, or genre, the six-week workshop at Odyssey has more to teach you. Jeanne has spent years analyzing works and it shows. Moreover, she cares about her Odyssey students, and she puts her full efforts into their success. It was a wonderful experience.

Memorable Quotes from the Class of 2014

“It’s so hard to find someone to appreciate your evil genius.”

“The more effective you are as a torturer, the better the story is for your reader.”
“Your job is to muffle the clank of your characters’ manacles.”
“It’s never a good idea to outsource your own thinking.”
—Alex Jablokov

“What didn’t work for me…”
“A bottled unicorn fart is priceless.”

“I feel her love for her goat.”
“Fae! Yea!”

“What would Jeanne do?”
“Dark Lloyd returns!”
“Why did I become a writer?…Because I confused the pleasure of reading with the act of writing. I was wrong.”

“Cavelosian moment of genius. C-MOG.”
“I’m a little disappointed. I thought we were going to get a tavern and we didn’t.”
“I love the bacon stripping of the guy.”
“Semicolon linkage.”
“Is it wrong if I’m jealous of your novums?”
“The dastardly guy whose name I can’t pronounce.”
“I’ve never heard of a child skinner and I thought that was a nice take.”

“The darkness was just lovely.”
“There’s a lot of thesaurus work here.”
“I was disappointed when the stew wasn’t made from the villager. Please make him eat her.”
“I’m not a time master.”
“A cherry of hope.”
“Gamey with a sweet marble, like the flesh of a dwarf.”
“The stew should be made from the old lady.”

“It went down so easy that I hardly noticed I didn’t know what was going on.”
—Delia Sherman

“What is Jeanne feeding them?”
—Elizabeth Hand

“This is my kind of story so I’m going to skip over the compliments.”
“You could do bank robberies very slowly.”

“He could use Beverly’s skin and make more balloons out of it.”
“I would like for her to melt the wizard’s arm like candle wax.”
“Novum envy.”
“There’s only so much Jack Sparrow you want, but you want it. You know you want it.”
“I love making the protagonist responsible for horrible things.”
“Pretend you’re normal people.”

“I’m exhausted. I’m ready to die.”
“Very beautifully written, yet disgusting.”
“Inbred psychotics make moonshine.”

“You have one of the awesomely sickest minds I ever came across.”

“They had this wild, mystical shoe-based experience.”
“The whole story begins and ends with a bracket.”
“I’m so deep that when I go to the bathroom, there’s subtext.”

“I liked the goat.”
—Melanie Tem

“Your sci fi mojo was on steroids, dude.”
“I have a total man-crush on your fantasy world.”
“I especially love sex scenes that don’t end well. Especially if they don’t include me.”
“Don’t let the kidney go away.”
“Try to think in terms of goblin cuisine.”
“It’s really kind of twisted and kind of beautiful.”
“It’s always both a pleasure and a horror to read your stuff.”
“You’ll have a doggy book end and that will be good.”
“Take the time to make a meal out of that moment.”
“I think you need to start off on a rotting head.”
—Mike C.

“In her mind, she’s gone over interactions that haven’t even happened yet.”
“I was a little disappointed that he didn’t turn into his mother’s next alligator.”
“It [the internal conflict] needs to be more of a dilemma than a decision.”
—Michael M.

“Help! I’ve fallen into an infodump and I can’t get out.”
—Mustache Michael

“It’s epic fantasy. Of course he’s a farm boy.”
“I wasn’t intending to kill them, but then it got really late.”
“It felt more like a random robot kiss.”
“What a crazy rollercoaster ride of evolutionary excitement.”
“I would not drink that in a million years.”

“Once you’ve been attacked by a plastic stork, you can never return to normalcy.”
“I can’t remember the last time I saw a dismembered body in my living room.”
“We are not simple people. All of us have subplots.”
—Steve Rasnic Tem

“You can’t add anything else to the ritual or you might summon a demon.”
“Maybe I’m a sadist . . .”
“I’ve had babies, but I’ve never expelled one through my left nostril.”
“I will never look at balloons the same way again.”
—Olivia F.

“Go forth and bud asexually.”
—Olivia D.

“It’s easy to predict the car. It’s hard to predict the tollbooth.”

“The Book of Worm prevails!”
—Wayne and Michael M.