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Odyssey Podcasts

 

Welcome to the Odyssey Podcasts. These podcasts are excerpts from lectures given by guest writers, editors, and agents at the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Every month or two, we release a new podcast. Each one is ten to fifteen minutes long. You may download a particular podcast, or you may subscribe to the podcasts so you automatically receive them when they are released. To subscribe, you will need RSS reader software on your computer. There are many free RSS readers.

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Or see below to download and listen to individual podcasts. To access more options, right-click on the mp3 links.




PODCAST #83

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Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman served as guest lecturers at the 2014 Odyssey Writing Workshop, where they spoke about characters. In this excerpt, which is the first of two parts, they explain how important it is to write what your heart and your gut know when you are creating characters. Rather than thinking what you ought to do as a writer, bring your self to your writing. This provides insight into character. Think about what happens when you meet someone in real life, and try to create that sort of experience in your stories. You process cues, make judgments, learn more about them as you spend more time with them. This kind of experience can provide layers in a character. Think about people you like and don't like and why. How can you create characters like them? Every character should be real. How do you delineate them in just a sentence? How can you show an introverted character who won't say or reveal much?

Delia Sherman Delia Sherman writes short stories and novels for adults and young readers. Several of her short stories have been nominated for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards, and her most recent YA novel, The Freedom Maze, received the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award, and the Prometheus Award. A collection of her short stories is coming out in 20014 from Small Beer Press.

Delia has been a judge for the World Fantasy Award, the Crawford Award for Best First Fantasy Novel, and has served on the Motherboard of the James Tiptree Jr. Award. She is a founding member of the Interstitial Arts Foundation.

As an editor of books and anthologies, Delia's continuing quest is to get more of the kind of fantasy she likes out to readers. She has been a contributing editor for Tor Books and has co-edited several anthologies, including Interfictions Online, for which she is Executive Editor, working with Christopher Barzak, Meghan McCarron, and Sofia Samatar. Delia has taught many writing workshops, including Clarion, the Hollins University Program in Children's Literature, and six previous Odysseys. She has also worked in a book store. She can write almost anywhere, but prefers cafes and comfy sofas near a source of tea. She lives in New York City with Ellen Kushner and many fine books, most of which at least one of them has read. Besides writing and reading other people's manuscripts, favorite occupations are travel, knitting, cooking, and having fun adventures, as long as they don't involve dragons of any kind.

Ellen Kushner Ellen Kushner began her career in publishing as a fiction editor in New York City, but left to write her first novel, Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners, the first of her cult classic "Riverside" series, hailed as the progenitor of the "Mannerpunk" (or "Fantasy of Manners") school of urban fantasy. The next in the series, The Privilege of the Sword, a genre-crossing, gender-bending novel, earned an eclectic range of honors, and won the Locus Award. The third in the series, The Fall of the Kings, co-written with Delia Sherman, "taps into fantasy's genuine source of drama, its ability to haunt, appall, transform" (Locus). Her second novel, Thomas the Rhymer (1991 World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award) stands alone as a work of mythic fiction with strong musical ties.

For many years she was a radio host for WGBH-FM, and created Sound & Spirit, PRI's award-winning National Public Radio series. Her solo spoken word works include Esther: the Feast of Masks, and The Golden Dreydl: a Klezmer 'Nutcracker' for Chanukah (with Shirim Klezmer Orchestra).

Her short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, most recently Jonathan Strahan's Fearsome Journeys and Datlow & Windling's Queen Victoria's Book of Spells. Recent projects include The Witches of Lublin, a musical audio drama written with Elizabeth Schwartz & Yale Strom (Gabriel, Gracie and Wilbur Awards), and the anthology Welcome to Bordertown (co-edited with Holly Black), a revival of Terri Windling's now-classic shared world urban fantasy series.

In 2012, Ellen Kushner entered the world of audiobooks, as narrator as well as co-producer of all three of her own "Riverside" novels for Neil Gaiman Presents, working with SueMedia Productions—and winning a 2013 Audie Award for Swordspoint.

She has taught writing at Clarion Workshop, Odyssey, and is an instructor at the Hollins University Graduate Program in Children's Literature, where she was also the 2011 Writer-in-Residence.

Ellen Kushner is a co-founder of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, an organization supporting work that falls between genre categories. She lives in New York City with author and educator Delia Sherman, a lot of books, airplane and theater ticket stubs, and no cats whatsoever.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2014 by by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #82

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At the 2014 Odyssey Writing Workshop, guest lecturer Gordon Van Gelder answered students' questions on the fiction publishing market. This excerpt is the second of two parts, continuing the discussion in Podcast 81. In this podcast, Gordon discusses what keeps him reading past the first few paragraphs. What should a new writer take extra time on when making a submission? How does Gordon deal with the complex author/editor relationship? How does he usually interact with authors, by phone or email or at events? Does he generally avoid meeting with his authors?

Gordon Van Gelder Gordon Van Gelder published his first story in 100 Great Fantasy Short-Short Stories in 1984, but the majority of his career has been spent as an editor. After a brief internship at Bluejay Books in 1986, he began working at St. Martin's Press in July 1988. He worked there until October 2000, during which time he edited a wide variety of books, both fiction and nonfiction. Among the authors he edited are Jack Cady, Bradley Denton, K. W. Jeter, Marc Laidlaw, Brent Monahan, Judith Moffett, Rachel Pollack, William Browning Spencer, and Kate Wilhelm.

In 1997, he succeeded Kristine Kathryn Rusch as editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. In 2000, he bought the magazine from Edward L. Ferman and Audrey Ferman and became the magazine's publisher while remaining its editor. In 2009, he changed the magazine to a bimonthly schedule.

As an anthologist, he coedited with Ferman The Best from Fantasy & Science Fiction: The 50th Anniversary Anthology and edited several other anthologies reprinting stories from F&SF: One Lamp (2003), In Lands That Never Were (2004), Fourth Planet from the Sun (2005), and The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: 60th Anniversary Anthology (2009). In 2011, he edited an anthology of all-original stories, Welcome to the Greenhouse: New Science Fiction on Climate Change, and in 2013, he edited an ebook anthology entitled Lonely Souls.

He won the World Fantasy Award (Special Award—Professional) in 2000 and in 2003. In 2007 and again in 2008 he won the Hugo Award for Best Editor—Short Form. He has taught at various writing workshops. He lives in New Jersey.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2014 by Gordon Van Gelder. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #81

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Gordon Van Gelder was a guest lecturer at the 2014 Odyssey Writing Workshop, where he answered students' questions on the fiction publishing market. In this excerpt, the first of two parts, he covers the following: Should an author submit her story to lower-tier magazines after receiving personal rejections from top-tier magazines, or just write a new story? Do publishing credits in lower-tier magazines help or hurt the author's chances of publication in the top tier? What are your thoughts on the future of printed books and magazines? What is the best way to open a story? What are some of most common problems that prevent new writers from selling stories? How has your opinion of online publishing changed in the last five years?

Gordon Van Gelder Gordon Van Gelder published his first story in 100 Great Fantasy Short-Short Stories in 1984, but the majority of his career has been spent as an editor. After a brief internship at Bluejay Books in 1986, he began working at St. Martin's Press in July 1988. He worked there until October 2000, during which time he edited a wide variety of books, both fiction and nonfiction. Among the authors he edited are Jack Cady, Bradley Denton, K. W. Jeter, Marc Laidlaw, Brent Monahan, Judith Moffett, Rachel Pollack, William Browning Spencer, and Kate Wilhelm.

In 1997, he succeeded Kristine Kathryn Rusch as editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. In 2000, he bought the magazine from Edward L. Ferman and Audrey Ferman and became the magazine's publisher while remaining its editor. In 2009, he changed the magazine to a bimonthly schedule.

As an anthologist, he coedited with Ferman The Best from Fantasy & Science Fiction: The 50th Anniversary Anthology and edited several other anthologies reprinting stories from F&SF: One Lamp (2003), In Lands That Never Were (2004), Fourth Planet from the Sun (2005), and The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: 60th Anniversary Anthology (2009). In 2011, he edited an anthology of all-original stories, Welcome to the Greenhouse: New Science Fiction on Climate Change, and in 2013, he edited an ebook anthology entitled Lonely Souls.

He won the World Fantasy Award (Special Award—Professional) in 2000 and in 2003. In 2007 and again in 2008 he won the Hugo Award for Best Editor—Short Form. He has taught at various writing workshops. He lives in New Jersey.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2014 by Gordon Van Gelder. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #80

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As writers-in-residence at Odyssey 2014, Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem lectured on beginnings, middles, ends, and structure. This excerpt is part 2 of 2, continuing the discussion in Podcast 79 and focusing particularly on structure. Steve explains that structure is a metaphor. The three-act structure is a natural structure because it mirrors the three ages of man: birth, middle-age, and death. Three-act structure helps to create the rise and fall of emotion. A novel requires more of an emotional shift and needs to provide time for the readers to catch their breath, make transitions in emotion, and come to a conclusion. But there are many possible structures. If you can come up with an image for your book, then you can try to structure the book around that image. With such structures, though, it can be difficult to provide rising and falling emotion. One of Steve's novels, Deadfall Hotel, was structured like a hotel, but it also had to facilitate the development of characters with rising tension. Melanie explains how Cold Mountain follows the structure of The Odyssey. A metaphorical structure doesn't need to be explained to the reader; it can just be a way to help you think about it. They discuss novels constructed out of interlocking short stories and epistolary novels. Steve explains a helpful test for your structure that he learned from South Park.

Melanie Tem Melanie Tem's work has received the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards and a nomination for the Shirley Jackson Award. She has published numerous short stories, eleven solo novels, two collaborative novels with Nancy Holder, and two with her husband Steve Rasnic Tem. She is also a published poet, an oral storyteller, and a playwright. In Concert, a collaborative short story collection with Steve Rasnic Tem, was published in August 2010, and solo stories have recently appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Crimewave, and Interzone, and anthologies such as Supernatural Noir, The Devil's Coattails, and the Black Wings series. Her novels Yellow Wood and Proxy will be published by Chi-Zine Press in 2014 and 2015. Melanie is a social worker and a non-profit executive director. The Tems live in Denver. They have four children and six grandchildren.

Steve Rasnic Tem Steve Rasnic Tem is the author of over 400 published short stories and is a past winner of the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards. His short story collections include City Fishing (Silver Salamander), The Far Side of the Lake (Ash Tree), In Concert (with wife Melanie Tem), Ugly Behavior (noir fiction, New Pulp Press), Onion Songs (Chomu Press), Celestial Inventories (ChiZine), and Twember (science fiction stories, NewCon Press). His novels include Excavation, The Book of Days, Daughters (with Melanie Tem), The Man In The Ceiling (with Melanie Tem), Deadfall Hotel, and this year's Blood Kin, southern gothic horror from Solaris Books. His next novel, Ubo, a dark SF meditation on violence, will appear from Solaris in the spring of 2016.

You may visit the Tem home on the web at www.m-s-tem.com. The Amazon Steve Rasnic Tem page can be found at: http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Rasnic-Tem/e/B001JRYPX6/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2014 by Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #79

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Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem served as writers-in-residence at Odyssey 2014, spending a week at the workshop, lecturing, workshopping, and meeting with students. This podcast, the first of two parts, is an excerpt from their lecture on beginnings, middles, ends, and structure. If you are struggling with structure, Steve recommends you read a thousand stories to find out what happens in stories. He advised a writer struggling with openings to read the openings of his favorite 100 books. If struggling with an ending, read other endings and see if you can find one that sounds the way you want yours to sound. Melanie points out that, while you should learn from others, you need to find the right beginning and ending for your particular story. There are different ways to open and close, depending on the story and the effect you want. There are no hard-and-fast rules. Steve explains that often the first thing a writer writes is not the right opening. Steve reads some sample beginnings and endings. They discuss the difficulty of middles. The middle is about plot, and a strong middle requires you have strong plotting skills. Steve shares his difficulty early in his career with writing stories longer than 2,000 words; short stories can get away without a middle, but longer stories require it. The more middle you need in your piece, the longer your story/novella/novel needs to be.

Melanie Tem Melanie Tem's work has received the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards and a nomination for the Shirley Jackson Award. She has published numerous short stories, eleven solo novels, two collaborative novels with Nancy Holder, and two with her husband Steve Rasnic Tem. She is also a published poet, an oral storyteller, and a playwright. In Concert, a collaborative short story collection with Steve Rasnic Tem, was published in August 2010, and solo stories have recently appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Crimewave, and Interzone, and anthologies such as Supernatural Noir, The Devil's Coattails, and the Black Wings series. Her novels Yellow Wood and Proxy will be published by Chi-Zine Press in 2014 and 2015. Melanie is a social worker and a non-profit executive director. The Tems live in Denver. They have four children and six grandchildren.

Steve Rasnic Tem Steve Rasnic Tem is the author of over 400 published short stories and is a past winner of the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards. His short story collections include City Fishing (Silver Salamander), The Far Side of the Lake (Ash Tree), In Concert (with wife Melanie Tem), Ugly Behavior (noir fiction, New Pulp Press), Onion Songs (Chomu Press), Celestial Inventories (ChiZine), and Twember (science fiction stories, NewCon Press). His novels include Excavation, The Book of Days, Daughters (with Melanie Tem), The Man In The Ceiling (with Melanie Tem), Deadfall Hotel, and this year's Blood Kin, southern gothic horror from Solaris Books. His next novel, Ubo, a dark SF meditation on violence, will appear from Solaris in the spring of 2016.

You may visit the Tem home on the web at www.m-s-tem.com. The Amazon Steve Rasnic Tem page can be found at: http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Rasnic-Tem/e/B001JRYPX6/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2014 by Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #78

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Catherynne M. Valente was a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2014, exploring the Anatomy of Fiction. In this excerpt, Cat discusses openings and titles. She explains how to start strong and keep readers reading your story. It's a system of credit. An interesting title buys their interest for the first line; if the first line is interesting, that buys their attention for first paragraph, and so on. The author needs to give readers a voice they want to listen to, or a character they want to follow, or a place they want to see. Cat also discusses the importance of titles. If a reader is looking through the table of contents of an anthology, he will pick the most interesting title. The title is like a billboard attracting the reader. There are many ways of titling. Cat describes some that work well and some that should usually be avoided and provides examples. The title is your first opportunity to make an impression on a reader. Don't let it just sit there.

Catherynne M. Valente Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times best-selling author of many works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan's Tales series, Deathless, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Own Making. She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2014 by Catherynne M. Valente. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #77

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A guest lecturer at Odyssey 2014, Elizabeth Hand lectured on writing from intense personal experience in your fiction. In this podcast, Liz discusses how writing from the heart can lead to catharsis. Writing about happiness can be more difficult than writing about trauma. Extreme experiences can be great source material for your fiction because they create extreme and unusual responses. An extreme experience can lead to a powerful fight or flight response. You can go into a hyper-alert state and notice things you don't normally notice. Or you can dissociate and feel distant. But those states can be recalled and described. Good writers can recall with exquisite attention the details of an event. This can help create emotion and resonance. Liz shares a very moving experience from her own life and explains how she made it into a story. Liz explains that you can train yourself to work that way. She puts herself into a very unfamiliar place, where she feels discomfited, so she will be on alert. She then tries to look at it as an anthropologist does, as an outsider. Having an outsider's perspective can help provide strangeness in your work, which is important in fantastic fiction.

Elizabeth Hand Elizabeth Hand lectured on writing from intense personal experience in your fiction. In this podcast, Liz discusses how writing from the heart can lead to catharsis. Writing about happiness can be more difficult than writing about trauma. Extreme experiences can be great source material for your fiction because they create extreme and unusual responses. An extreme experience can lead to a powerful fight or flight response. You can go into a hyper-alert state and notice things you don't normally notice. Or you can dissociate and feel distant. But those states can be recalled and described. Good writers can recall with exquisite attention the details of an event. This can help create emotion and resonance. Liz shares a very moving experience from her own life and explains how she made it into a story. Liz explains that you can train yourself to work that way. She puts herself into a very unfamiliar place, where she feels discomfited, so she will be on alert. She then tries to look at it as an anthropologist does, as an outsider. Having an outsider's perspective can help provide strangeness in your work, which is important in fantastic fiction.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Hand. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #76

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At Odyssey 2014, Alex Jablokov gave a guest lecture on plot. In this excerpt, Alex discusses how a character functions within a plot. Alex explains that the author uses many conventions in presenting characters, and the reader accepts these and believes in the characters, though the conventions are different from reality. Fictional characters often know more about themselves and their story than real people do. Another convention is that the author only shows us aspects of the character that are relevant to the story. The characters are what they've done, not what they've thought or who they are inside. Personality is often defined in terms of skills in science fiction, rather than features, as in other genres. Often the most important part of a character involves what he has learned to do during the story. So plot, by providing challenges that drive the character to action, plays a large role in showing and defining character. Ultimately, the plot, by revealing the consequences of the characters' actions, is like a moral judgment on the characters in the story. Alex discusses how this works in mysteries and in science fiction. Another convention is that characters have significant influence over their world. Your story is an artificial product that you need to pretend isn't artificial. You need to pretend that the characters don't know they're in your story and don't know what they're supposed to do. You need to pretend that they are not your slaves but are constrained only by their personalities and the situation. As for which is more important, character or plot, Alex asserts that both are. He follows one until at a sticking point, then switches to the other, going back and forth.

Alex Jablokov Alex Jablokov writes science fiction for readers who won't give up literate writing or vivid characters to get the thrills they demand. He is a natural transition for non-SF readers interested in taking a stroll with a dangerous AI or a neurosurgeon/jazz musician turned detective, while still giving hardcore SF fans speculative flash, incomprehensible aliens, and kitchen appliances with insect wing cases. From his well-regarded first novel, Carve the Sky, an interplanetary espionage novel set in a culturally complex 25th century, through the obscenely articulate dolphins with military modifications of A Deeper Sea, the hardboiled post-cyberpunk of Nimbus, the subterranean Martian repression of River of Dust, and the perverse space opera of Deepdrive, his last book was Brain Thief, a contemporary high-tech thriller with a class clown attitude. He has recently written a YA alternate universe adventure novel.

His day job is as a marketing manager. He does his writing during the mornings, and on weekends. It took him several years to figure out how to get any writing done at all, particularly since he hates getting up early and hates working on weekends, but has somehow managed it.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2014 by Alex Jablokov. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #75

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Holly Black was a guest at Odyssey 2013, where she lectured on Writing Young Adult Fantasy. In this excerpt, she explains how to create a magic system. She discusses important questions to ask yourself, such as who has the magic, what does it do, and how does one make it happen? How is the user affected by the magic? How is world affected? How are users perceived? She offers her own Curse Workers series as an example and explains how she answered some of these questions. Once you answer the initial questions, then you can move to the next level and consider most advanced issues: the cost of magic, the limits of magic, a potential model for your magic, and what the rules of magic say about the world.

Holly Black Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, The Good Neighbors graphic novel trilogy (with Ted Naifeh), the Curse Workers series, a middle grade ghost story, Doll Bones, and her vampire novel, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award, a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award. She currently lives in New England with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret door.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2013 by Holly Black. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.




PODCAST #74

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Sheila Williams was a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2013, where she spoke about the short fiction market. In this excerpt, she reads opening paragraphs from stories submitted to her at Asimov's. All of these are by authors she didn't know and hadn't heard of. She ultimately bought these stories for the magazine. Sheila discusses the qualities of these openings and how they gained her interest. Some pique her curiosity with strange images and make her want to continue. Some set up an intriguing situation that generates questions in her mind and makes her want to know what's going to happen next. Some reveal something different that she hasn't thought of or read before. Some create dramatic tension that draws her in. Some have strong use of language and powerful details. Some have a great title and distinct voice. Some surprise her. These examples show how unknown authors can break out of the slush pile, sometimes after years of submitting, and make a sale to one of the top markets in the field. For some, this was their first sale.

Sheila Williams Sheila Williams is the two-time Hugo-Award-winning editor of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine. She started at Asimov's in June 1982 and served as the executive editor of Analog from 1998 until 2004. She is also the co-founder of the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing (formerly the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing). In addition, She coordinates the websites for Asimov's (www.asimovs.com).

Sheila is the editor or co-editor of twenty-five anthologies. The most recent are Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine's 30th Anniversary Anthology (Tachyon Publications, 2007), which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and was on the 2007 Locus Recommended Reading list, and the 2010 Enter A Future: Fantastic Tales from Asimov's Science Fiction, which is exclusively available for Amazon's Kindle.

Sheila received her bachelor's degree from Elmira College in Elmira, New York, and her master's from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. During her junior year she studied at the London School of Economics. She lives in New York City with her husband, David Bruce, and her two daughters.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2013 by Sheila Williams. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #73

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As writer-in-residence at Odyssey 2013, Nancy Holder lectured on short fiction and novel contracts. This excerpt is part 2 of 2, continuing the discussion in Podcast 72. In this part, Nancy discusses a work-for-hire novel contract. She explains what a boilerplate contract is, and the role of an agent in negotiating your contract with a publisher. Nancy covers how advances and royalties work and when they are paid. These days, some publishers may want to e-publish your book without paying an advance. Advances for a novel can range from $0 to $1 million and beyond. For a short category romance, the maximum advance is $10,000. For a first novel, many authors receive an advance of $3,000-$5,000. You might get a higher advance, but then the book might fail to earn out, and the publisher may not buy your next book. The author may also receive advances from foreign publishers. Nancy also explains contracts that literary agents have with their authors, and agent involvement in the e-book marketplace.

Nancy Holder Nancy Holder is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of adult, young adult, middle grade, and early reader work, both fiction and nonfiction. She has sold approximately 80 novels and 200 short stories, comic books, and essays in various genres. She has taught creative writing classes at the University of California at San Diego, the Maui Writers Retreat and Conference, and other conferences and colleges, and has been on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing for seven years. She has also served on the boards of Clarion (San Diego) and the Horror Writers Association.

Wicked, her young adult dark fantasy series, was optioned by DreamWorks, and she has received five Bram Stoker Awards, including Best Novel for Dead in the Water, edited by Jeanne Cavelos. As an editor, she was nominated for a Stoker for Outsiders: 22 All New Stories from the Edge, which contains work by a number of previous Odyssey writers-in-residence. She received a Pioneer Award from the Romantic Times Convention for her work in young adult literature. She also recently won a Scribe award for her novel, Saving Grace: Tough Love, based on the TV show of the same name.

She has done tie-in work for Smallville; Saving Grace; The Hulk; Hellboy; Sabrina the Teen Age Witch; Highlander; Zorro; Kolchak the Night Stalker; The Domino Lady; The Spider; The Avenger; and Sherlock Holmes, as well two dozen novels for Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She also produced the first volume of The Angel Casefiles and the first two volumes of the BtVS Watcher's Guide. She has written material for house series such as Nancy Drew; Camp Confidential; Pretty Freekin Scary, and for packagers such as becker&meyer!

She has also written a lot of horror, urban fantasy, science fiction and fantasy, venturing into the e-pub world as one-third of GothicScapes™, which produces urban fantasies. She writes columns for the Science Fiction Writers of America Bulletin and the Horror Writers Association newsletter. She also edits and writes comic books, graphic novels, and prose for Moonstone Books.

Her new work includes the young adult vampire series Crusade, and The Wolf Springs Chronicles, a young adult werewolf series. Her licensed tribute book Buffy: the Making of a Slayer will be released by 47 North (amazon) in December. She also has selections in Dear Teen Me; IDW's VWars shared world; Zombie Apocalypse: Fightback!; An Apple for the Creature, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner; Shards and Ashes, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong; and Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes. "Clockwork Airlock," a steampunk story, appeared in FutureDaze.

She is a member of The Romance Writers of America and various sub-chapters, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, and The Horror Writers Association.

Her teaching philosophy is this: As the Talmud says, "Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, 'Grow, grow.'" She believes that is best done with kind, specific guidance that inspires and encourages the student to keep going. No one on this earth was born published, and yet many have managed to do it. There are definitely ways to make it more likely, and she is delighted to share her thoughts on the matter with Odyssey.

Her literary crush is Edgar Allan Poe, and she loves the heavy metal stylings of Sir Christopher Lee. She lives in San Diego with her daughter, Belle, and they have sold two short stories together. Feel free to contact her @nancyholder or https://www.facebook.com/holder.nancy

The text of this recording is copyright © 2013 by Nancy Holder. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.




PODCAST #72

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As writer-in-residence at the 2013 Odyssey Writing Workshop, Nancy Holder lectured for a week, provided feedback on students' manuscripts, and met privately with students. This podcast, the first of two parts, is an excerpt from her lecture on short fiction and novel contracts. If you've been signing contracts with publishers without really understanding them, you need to listen to this podcast. Nancy explains exactly what a contract is. The contract establishes which rights the author is granting to the publisher. As the writer, you are the copyright holder. A publisher can buy the right to publish your story, but you still own the copyright. Nancy explains various terms, such as nonexclusive and pro rata, and discusses what provisions you should try to get in a contract for a never-before-published story. Nancy also reviews a contract for a reprint of a story that has been previously published.

Nancy Holder Nancy Holder is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of adult, young adult, middle grade, and early reader work, both fiction and nonfiction. She has sold approximately 80 novels and 200 short stories, comic books, and essays in various genres. She has taught creative writing classes at the University of California at San Diego, the Maui Writers Retreat and Conference, and other conferences and colleges, and has been on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing for seven years. She has also served on the boards of Clarion (San Diego) and the Horror Writers Association.

Wicked, her young adult dark fantasy series, was optioned by DreamWorks, and she has received five Bram Stoker Awards, including Best Novel for Dead in the Water, edited by Jeanne Cavelos. As an editor, she was nominated for a Stoker for Outsiders: 22 All New Stories from the Edge, which contains work by a number of previous Odyssey writers-in-residence. She received a Pioneer Award from the Romantic Times Convention for her work in young adult literature. She also recently won a Scribe award for her novel, Saving Grace: Tough Love, based on the TV show of the same name.

She has done tie-in work for Smallville; Saving Grace; The Hulk; Hellboy; Sabrina the Teen Age Witch; Highlander; Zorro; Kolchak the Night Stalker; The Domino Lady; The Spider; The Avenger; and Sherlock Holmes, as well two dozen novels for Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She also produced the first volume of The Angel Casefiles and the first two volumes of the BtVS Watcher's Guide. She has written material for house series such as Nancy Drew; Camp Confidential; Pretty Freekin Scary, and for packagers such as becker&meyer!

She has also written a lot of horror, urban fantasy, science fiction and fantasy, venturing into the e-pub world as one-third of GothicScapes™, which produces urban fantasies. She writes columns for the Science Fiction Writers of America Bulletin and the Horror Writers Association newsletter. She also edits and writes comic books, graphic novels, and prose for Moonstone Books.

Her new work includes the young adult vampire series Crusade, and The Wolf Springs Chronicles, a young adult werewolf series. Her licensed tribute book Buffy: the Making of a Slayer will be released by 47 North (amazon) in December. She also has selections in Dear Teen Me; IDW's VWars shared world; Zombie Apocalypse: Fightback!; An Apple for the Creature, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner; Shards and Ashes, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong; and Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes. "Clockwork Airlock," a steampunk story, appeared in FutureDaze.

She is a member of The Romance Writers of America and various sub-chapters, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, and The Horror Writers Association.

Her teaching philosophy is this: As the Talmud says, "Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, 'Grow, grow.'" She believes that is best done with kind, specific guidance that inspires and encourages the student to keep going. No one on this earth was born published, and yet many have managed to do it. There are definitely ways to make it more likely, and she is delighted to share her thoughts on the matter with Odyssey.

Her literary crush is Edgar Allan Poe, and she loves the heavy metal stylings of Sir Christopher Lee. She lives in San Diego with her daughter, Belle, and they have sold two short stories together. Feel free to contact her @nancyholder or https://www.facebook.com/holder.nancy

The text of this recording is copyright © 2013 by Nancy Holder. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.




PODCAST #71

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Nancy Holder served as writer-in-residence at the 2013 Odyssey Writing Workshop. Among the lectures she gave that week was one on "The Secrets of a Satisfying Short Story." This lecture provided so much helpful information that I asked her to expand it into an online class for Odyssey. In this excerpt from her lecture, Nancy recommends that short story writers read L. Rust Hills's book Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular and Edgar Allan Poe's essay "The Philosophy of Composition," which outlines his theory on how stories should be written. The short story should be short enough to be read in single setting and should have a unity of effect--all the elements should work together to create a single emotional effect and satisfying ending. One of the most common weaknesses in stories is the ending. Nancy explains that the failure of the ending is actually a failure of the beginning. Many writers start with a cool idea but don't turn that idea into a causal plot. Unless the writer makes the journey from idea to premise to plot, it's unlikely he'll create a satisfying ending. A simple way to think of a story is that it describes a character in a situation with a problem. Most stories have an idea or a "what if?" but not a problem. Without that, the writer doesn't know how to end the story. If you are struggling to find a satisfying ending, ask yourself this: Who is doing what and why, and what happens to them as a result? Usually the protagonist has an external problem and internal problem. Sometimes the internal problem is why he has an external problem. This can be very compelling. Focusing on these interconnected problems will make the ending feel inevitable, though not predictable. Some writers want to discover the story as they go. But often that means they're postponing the decision about what the story is. Don't just sit down and go, Nancy advises. Decide what your story is first.

Nancy Holder Nancy Holder is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of adult, young adult, middle grade, and early reader work, both fiction and nonfiction. She has sold approximately 80 novels and 200 short stories, comic books, and essays in various genres. She has taught creative writing classes at the University of California at San Diego, the Maui Writers Retreat and Conference, and other conferences and colleges, and has been on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing for seven years. She has also served on the boards of Clarion (San Diego) and the Horror Writers Association.

Wicked, her young adult dark fantasy series, was optioned by DreamWorks, and she has received five Bram Stoker Awards, including Best Novel for Dead in the Water, edited by Jeanne Cavelos. As an editor, she was nominated for a Stoker for Outsiders: 22 All New Stories from the Edge, which contains work by a number of previous Odyssey writers-in-residence. She received a Pioneer Award from the Romantic Times Convention for her work in young adult literature. She also recently won a Scribe award for her novel, Saving Grace: Tough Love, based on the TV show of the same name.

She has done tie-in work for Smallville; Saving Grace; The Hulk; Hellboy; Sabrina the Teen Age Witch; Highlander; Zorro; Kolchak the Night Stalker; The Domino Lady; The Spider; The Avenger; and Sherlock Holmes, as well two dozen novels for Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She also produced the first volume of The Angel Casefiles and the first two volumes of the BtVS Watcher's Guide. She has written material for house series such as Nancy Drew; Camp Confidential; Pretty Freekin Scary, and for packagers such as becker&meyer!

She has also written a lot of horror, urban fantasy, science fiction and fantasy, venturing into the e-pub world as one-third of GothicScapes™, which produces urban fantasies. She writes columns for the Science Fiction Writers of America Bulletin and the Horror Writers Association newsletter. She also edits and writes comic books, graphic novels, and prose for Moonstone Books.

Her new work includes the young adult vampire series Crusade, and The Wolf Springs Chronicles, a young adult werewolf series. Her licensed tribute book Buffy: the Making of a Slayer will be released by 47 North (amazon) in December. She also has selections in Dear Teen Me; IDW's VWars shared world; Zombie Apocalypse: Fightback!; An Apple for the Creature, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner; Shards and Ashes, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong; and Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes. "Clockwork Airlock," a steampunk story, appeared in FutureDaze.

She is a member of:
The Romance Writers of America and various sub-chapters
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
The International Association of Media Tie-in Writers
The Horror Writers Association

Her teaching philosophy is this: As the Talmud says, "Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, 'Grow, grow.'" She believes that is best done with kind, specific guidance that inspires and encourages the student to keep going. No one on this earth was born published, and yet many have managed to do it. There are definitely ways to make it more likely, and she is delighted to share her thoughts on the matter with Odyssey.

Her literary crush is Edgar Allan Poe, and she loves the heavy metal stylings of Sir Christopher Lee. She lives in San Diego with her daughter, Belle, and they have sold two short stories together. Feel free to contact her @nancyholder or https://www.facebook.com/holder.nancy

The text of this recording is copyright © 2013 by Nancy Holder. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.




PODCAST #70

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A guest lecturer at Odyssey 2013, Adam-Troy Castro discussed Writing the Middle-Grade Novel. In this excerpt from his lecture, Adam explains how he approaches writing for a middle-grade audience. He creates stories that have real danger, real consequences, strong emotions, and reasons to worry and care. Characters can face physical harm, loss, and death. For Adam, middle-grade novels should not be simpler or gentler, but they should provide a happy ending. Adam considers middle-grade readers aged 9-13, and the major characters in the novel should be in that range as well. On the practical side of things, middle-grade books are a very fast-growing market segment. Novels need to be only about 40,000 words, so they can take less time to write than adult novels, and publishers tend to pay about three times as much as for an adult novel. On the artistic side, writers of middle-grade fiction can focus on childhood concerns. Writing middle-grade novels can be very emotionally satisfying as well, since readers can be very enthusiastic. Also, once you get readers to believe the first fantastic element, they will be accepting of the rest. One important cue when establishing the age of a character is the amount of time the character takes to process something strange. Young characters may simply accept the fantastic, not realizing it is strange, and take it in stride. The more disbelief a character shows, the older he seems. But if the character is too credulous, he can seem stupid. When writing about dark or horrible events, Adam advises not to provide a lot of detail. In dialogue, writers can include more exposition, since readers need more explanation, and characters may discuss things more because they need to work them out. Overused middle-grade story elements, which Adam suggests you avoid, are dead parents, prophecies, and chosen ones.

Adam-Troy Castro Adam-Troy Castro is the author of the novel Emissaries from the Dead (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award) and co-author of the novella "The Astronaut from Wyoming" (winner of the Seiun). His short fiction has been nominated for eight Nebulas, three Stokers, and two Hugos. His most recent project is a series of six middle-grade novels that includes Gustav Gloom and the People Taker and the recently released Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault, which bring his total number of books well into the mid-twenties. Adam lives in Boynton Beach, Florida, with his wife Judi and a manic assortment of cats that include Uma Furman, Meow Farrow, and Harley Quinn.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2013 by Adam-Troy Castro. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2014 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.




PODCAST #69

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As a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2013, another topic Jack Ketchum discussed is writing about thematic content that's important to you. Sometimes you may be aware of particular themes in your work, and sometimes you may not. Jack explains that you are drawn to particular material because it resonates for you. Your emotional core--your pains, concerns, fears, loves, and losses--makes you a unique writer. This doesn't mean you need to be self-obsessed, but it means that you should allow your concerns and fears to inform your work and run through the subtext. Jack describes how fiction allows you to discuss issues important to you, as long as you tell a good, suspenseful story, so the story never becomes preachy. Genre fiction provides a great venue for this. Jack leads students in considering key questions. What's important to you? What don't you like? Who don't you like? Who and what do you love? Jack explains that without significant thematic content, the author may be simply wasting the reader's time. The author needs to give the reader something worth reading about. Jack then considers some of the higher tasks he attempts to achieve in writing.

Jack Ketchum Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for a former actor, singer, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk—a former flower child and baby boomer who figures that in 1956 Elvis, dinosaurs and horror probably saved his life. His first novel, Off Season, prompted the Village Voice to publicly scold its publisher in print for publishing violent pornography. He personally disagrees but is perfectly happy to let you decide for yourself. His short story "The Box" won a 1994 Bram Stoker Award from the HWA, his story "Gone" won again in 2000—and in 2003 he won Stokers for both best collection for Peaceable Kingdom and best long fiction for Closing Time. He has written over twenty novels and novellas, the latest of which are The Woman and I'm Not Sam, both written with director Lucky McKee. Five of his books have been filmed to date—The Girl Next Door, The Lost, Red, Offspring and The Woman, the last of which won him and McKee the Best Screenplay Award at the prestigious Sitges Film Festival in Germany. His stories are collected in The Exit At Toledo Blade Boulevard, Broken on the Wheel of Sex, Sleep Disorder (with Edward Lee), Peaceable Kingdom and Closing Time and Other Stories. His novella The Crossings was cited by Stephen King in his speech at the 2003 National Book Awards. In 2011 he was elected Grand Master by the World Horror Convention.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2013 by Dallas Mayr. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2013 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.




PODCAST #68

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At Odyssey 2013, Patricia Bray lectured on writing a series. This excerpt is part 2 of 2, continuing the discussion in Podcast 67. In this part, Patricia discusses how to develop story arcs for a series, what to consider when plotting, and common pitfalls. Patricia explains that you need to a separate story arc for each book as well as an overall arc for the series. Each book needs a conflict that is satisfactorily resolved by the end of book, but each book must also advance the overall series arc and make the reader want to keep reading. A middle book in a series may often have some of the same problems as the middle of a novel, since it may be hard to resolve a significant conflict. Using examples from her Devlin's Luck trilogy, Patricia breaks the plot down into different key elements and explores different ways to consider the plot of a trilogy. Another important requirement of a series is that in each book, the stakes escalate. It can be hard to keep escalating, to feel the character is still threatened when he's defeated so many evils. Patricia explores common pitfalls when writing a series, such as how to end a series yet keep fans happy; how to avoid the book in which nothing happens, and how to avoid the overload of too many characters and too many subplots.

Patricia Bray Patricia Bray is the author of a dozen novels, including Devlin's Luck, which won the 2003 Compton Crook Award for the best first novel in the field of science fiction or fantasy. A multi-genre author whose career spans both epic fantasy and Regency romance, her books have been translated into Russian, German, Portuguese and Hebrew. She's also spent time on the editorial side of the business, as the co-editor of After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar (DAW, March 2011) and The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity (DAW, March 2012).

Patricia lives in a New England college town, where she combines her writing with a full-time career as a Systems Analyst, ensuring that she is never more than a few feet away from a keyboard. To find out more, visit her website at www.patriciabray.com.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2013 by Patricia Bray. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2013 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.




PODCAST #67

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As a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2013, Patricia Bray spoke about writing a novel series. In this excerpt from her lecture, which is the first of two parts, Patricia discusses why you might write a series, the pros and cons, and the various types of series. Patricia explains the appeal of a series to readers, and points out that bestseller lists often include series books. A series allows the author to build an audience over multiple novels. But there are disadvantages as well. Declining sales in a series can kill your writing career. If the first book isn't great, readers won't follow you to Book 2. Authors can get sick of a series and be trapped in it. There are different types of series, such as the closed series (duology, trilogy, and so on), which has a defined story arc; the open-ended series; the branching series; the loosely connected series; the character-focused series; the epic series; the puzzle series; and the episodic series. Podcast #68 will contain Part 2 of this excerpt.

Patricia Bray Patricia Bray is the author of a dozen novels, including Devlin's Luck, which won the 2003 Compton Crook Award for the best first novel in the field of science fiction or fantasy. A multi-genre author whose career spans both epic fantasy and Regency romance, her books have been translated into Russian, German, Portuguese and Hebrew. She's also spent time on the editorial side of the business, as the co-editor of After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar (DAW, March 2011) and The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity (DAW, March 2012).

Patricia lives in a New England college town, where she combines her writing with a full-time career as a Systems Analyst, ensuring that she is never more than a few feet away from a keyboard. To find out more, visit her website at www.patriciabray.com.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2013 by Patricia Bray. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2013 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.




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