So, now that things have calmed down on the release front for a while, I thought I would post about some things that have influenced me as a writer, and formed the genesis of this publishing company in a lot of ways. The first post series, (starting with this post) is going to be about the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop in Manchester, New Hampshire. The next three posts, in order, are going to be about Science Fiction Conventions, The Summer Company Program, and Walt Disney World. These posts are going to incorporate my stories and experiences, in an effort to give you the flavor of some of the things I love. In other words, it’s time to get to know each other a little better. 🙂
So, first of all, let’s talk about what the Odyssey Fantasy Writing workshop is. Odyssey is, as the name would imply, a workshop tailored to writers of speculative fiction, run by Jeanne Cavelos, a former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell and World Fantasy Award winner. Among writers, editors and other publishing industry professionals, Odyssey enjoys a prestigious reputation, due to the general quality of instruction at the workshop, and the fact that over fifty percent of graduates (myself included) go on to be professionally published authors. It is also a very exclusive workshop. Many apply, but only sixteen lucky applicants make the cut each year.
Odyssey is an amazing experience, and I would encourage anybody who wants to get serious about speculative fiction to apply and to go. The price may seem high at first glance, but you really have to think of the value to your career, and I can tell you right now that it will be worth ten times what you put in, both in terms of the time and energy that you save by knowing what you’re doing, and in the friends and connections you will make through their wonderful alumni community. Every week, a new author, editor or agent visits Odyssey, and personally critiques every student’s work. The author in residence, usually a very high-profile author indeed (my year was Robert J. Sawyer) even spends one-on-one time with the students, giving them advice and guidance throughout their entire week at the workshop.
So, now that we’ve gotten all that settled… I want to talk about my Odyssey experience, to give others a good idea about what a workshop like this entails, and what it’s like to really attend. Today, I’m going to start with how I got in.
It all started in the winter of 2005. At that time, I was 20 and knee-deep in an English BA at Brock University, taking six courses a semester and working a job as a TA at the same time in a Popular Literature course. Needless to say, with all of that on my plate, my urge to take my writing career to the next level was kind of on hold, and I was finding that very frustrating. So, in order to gain some peace of mind and give myself the time I needed to focus on my studies, I decided to apply to Odyssey as my big career move for the school year.
I sent off the application, which included an essay on myself and my passion for writing and a portion of my (then) novel in progress, which ended up becoming my upcoming novel, Flood Waters Rising, in the winter sometime, and waited. Then, one sunny spring day, (I believe it was early May, but that might be a bit late) I got a call from my grandmother, whom I had included as a character reference on my application.
She told me that ‘Jeanne somebody’ had called her from New Hampshire. She told me that Jeanne had asked if I could take critique properly, given my age. My grandmother had assured her that I could. I got very, very excited.
The next day, Jeanne called me in person and told me that I had been accepted to the workshop. I hung up the phone in shock, then jumped up and down and squealed, all over my house, for what was probably two hours. Nobody was even home for the first half hour of it. I wore out my voice for a couple of days.
Up Next… Preparing for the Workshop.