A Message from Jeanne Cavelos, Director, about Consultations:


Maybe you’re struggling in the early stages of development of a story or novel. Maybe you’ve written half of the manuscript and gotten stuck. Maybe you see several possible paths for the story and are uncertain which is the strongest. Maybe you’ve received feedback from an editor and don’t know what to make of it. Or maybe you have some other type of writing problem. Perhaps you tend to write awkward sentences, or to have flat characters, or to dump large chunks of exposition into your scenes, and you’d really like to talk this out with someone.

If this sounds like you, then an Odyssey Consultation may be just what you need. Over my years working with writers, I’ve found that one-on-one meetings are often the most helpful, where we can brainstorm, toss ideas back and forth, and explore issues more deeply. At the Odyssey Writing Workshop, I have a series of private meetings with students, offering advice, helping them solve writing problems, and talking out story ideas, plots, and characters. Students generally find these very helpful, so I thought other writers might find them helpful as well.

Most consultations will be done by Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos. You can find out more about Jeanne here.


Preparation for consultation:

You can send up to 2,000 words in advance

Length of consultation:

1 hour

Venue for consultation:


Cost for consultation:

via US check, bank draft, or online:


• Contact me to schedule your consultation. No consultations will be scheduled in January, June, or July due to our other programs.

• Once we have a date scheduled, you can provide up to 2,000 words of your work in advance. This might be a synopsis, an excerpt or complete story, a description of your problem, or whatever you feel would be most helpful. I can’t offer to critique whatever you send me—my schedule is too packed, and we have a great critique service if you want feedback—but I will read it before our meeting and jot down some thoughts.

• Payment is due before the date of the consultation. If you’re in the US, you can pay via personal check. Those outside the US can pay via bank draft in US dollars. All writers have the option of paying via PayPal in US dollars.

• Before the day of the consultation, make sure that your computer or other device meets the requirements for Zoom, which are listed below. If it doesn’t, we can meet by phone or some alternate method, but Zoom is our preferred meeting venue, since it offers much higher sound and video quality.

• At the appointed time, meet me online via Zoom, following the directions below. If you would like the session to be recorded for further reference, let me know. I can make the video available to you after our consultation.

• All content from the consultation—ideas, problems, details, stories—are confidential and are the property of the writer. If I suggest something to you and you like it, please feel encouraged to use it. That is your property.

Zoom Requirements

The computer specifications may look a bit intimidating, if you’re not a technical person. Chances are, if you’ve bought your computer in the last 5 years, Chances are, if you’ve bought your computer in the last 5 years, it will fulfill the requirements. So don’t panic; just go through them one at a time and make sure you are covered.

Computer: Make sure your computer fulfills the Zoom requirements. You can find them here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362023-System-requirements-for-Windows-macOS-and-Linux. You can find more details about Zoom system requirements here. While you can join meetings from supported tablets and mobile devices, Odyssey recommends you use a desktop or laptop computer for full functionality.

Zoom: If you don’t already have Zoom downloaded on your device, download it before your consultation here: https://zoom.us/download. Then create your free account. The Zoom icon (looks like a movie camera) will appear on your taskbar. Open Zoom. It will ask you to sign in. You’ll find the option “Sign Up Free” in the lower right corner. Input your email address. Zoom will email you a confirmation. Click in the email to “Activate Account.” Zoom will ask you to put in your first and last name and set a password. Close your web browser. You will see a sign-in window for Zoom on your desktop. Input the email and password you just established, and the Zoom app will fully open, and an icon will appear on your desktop. You’re now ready for your consultation.

Headset with earphones and microphone: Odyssey strongly recommends participants use a USB headset made up of headphones and microphone. Using speakers and microphone instead of a headset can lead to feedback or echo, disrupting the class. You can also use a telephone, though the sound quality may not be as good.

Internet: Broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE). Make sure your internet is up to speed (1.5 Mbps download/1.5Mbps upload). You can check your bandwidth here.

Attending the Consultation

1. Before joining, restart your computer, so the computer closes background applications and you start with as little activity in your computer as possible. This is a critical step. After restarting, do not open any files except the browser you need to join the consultation. IF USING A USB HEADSET: If you are using a headset (or built-in mic and speakers), you don’t need to do anything for your audio except plug in your headset or turn on your speakers. Do that now.

2. To join, click on the Zoom Meeting link Jeanne has sent you in your email. If you have difficulties, you can contact Jeanne by email