The Never-Ending Odyssey (TNEO) is an invitation-only, eight-day workshop exclusively for Odyssey graduates. Started in 1998, this unique program allows writing professionals and near-professionals with the shared background of Odyssey to work together to improve their skills. As we all know, the journey to become the best writers we can be is a lifelong one. If we don't constantly challenge ourselves to learn new techniques, to gain deeper insight into the elements that give fiction power, to push beyond what we have done before, then our work stagnates and dies. TNEO is designed to help writers expand and deepen their skills.
As more and more Odyssey graduates build successful writing careers for themselves, the level of writing, discourse, and critiquing at TNEO continues to grow more advanced. Your fellow graduates truly form a great resource for you.
As director, I oversee all aspects of the workshop, including the schedule, curriculum, activities, organization, and facilities.
I participate in the workshop alongside you rather than teaching it. Instead, I work closely with an Odyssey graduate who serves as moderator.
Erica Hildebrand, the TNEO Resident Supervisor, provides logistical support and serves as general problem-solver.
TNEO is a week of hard work that embodies what Odyssey is all about: the lifelong journey toward becoming the best writer you can be. You can come together with your peers in fellowship to discuss writing, to learn, to share insights, to commiserate, to encourage, to laugh, and to improve
TNEO participants are expected to attend all workshopping sessions and master-class sessions. If you will be unable to attend some sessions, you must discuss this with the moderator before enrolling.
You are also expected to provide professional-level written and verbal critiques on all submissions of those in your group. Written critiques should be more advanced, sophisticated, and in-depth than those you did at Odyssey. Concrete, specific observations and extensive line edits are expected on every work. Feedback should be truthful and helpful.
We usually split participants into three critique groups: the Short Story Group, the Regular Novel Group, and the Extended Novel Group. The Short Story Group and Regular Novel Group each contain 7-14 people, and the Extended Novel Group contains 4-8 people.
Manuscripts must be turned in before TNEO begins, because participants need to critique some, if not all, of the submissions ahead of time. We will be workshopping three or four submissions per day (as opposed to two on most days at Odyssey), so if you want to eat or sleep during TNEO, you need to get most of your critiquing done in advance. Most TNEO participants complete all of their critiquing ahead of time and have a much more enjoyable and useful week because of that.
Failure to meet one of the submission deadlines means a participant foregoes the opportunity to have one story/novel excerpt critiqued. All deadlines will be firmly enforced. Deadlines are usually around these dates:
All attendees are required to submit at least one piece. Submissions should not be first drafts; they should be as strong as you can make them on your own, so you can profit the most from the feedback you receive. So get writing! [Insert whip crack here. :) ]
All TNEO participants have the option of submitting, in addition, a novel synopsis. Novelists are strongly encouraged to do so, since the Novel Synopsis Critique Session should provide them important insights that may not be possible in the regular critique sessions. The synopsis is due MAY 12 and must be under 2,000 words.
You should check with the moderator for information on housing, since it may vary from year to year. Usually, TNEO participants are housed in two-bedroom apartments on campus at Benedict Court. Benedict Court is made up of buildings #34-38 on the campus map. They are not air conditioned, but they have 1 1/2 baths, an eat-in kitchen with stove and oven, a living room, and high-speed Internet connections. Each participant will receive a linen package that includes sheets, a pillow, pillowcase, blanket, hand towel, and bath towel.
For those who prefer more luxurious (and air-conditioned) accommodations, we reserve a block of rooms at the Hampton Inn & Suites. TNEO participants should ask for the special Odyssey discounted rate.
If you plan to arrive at TNEO a day before the workshop begins or stay a day after, you may stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites at the special rate.
Also, if you have someone dropping you off or picking you up, that guest may stay at the hotel at the discounted rate. As in previous years, no guests are allowed to stay in the college housing.
If you have any questions regarding Saint Anselm College, please contact the moderator or me, not the college.
If you are interested in attending and you have not received an invitation from me, or you have lost your invitation, you may contact me for more information. The enrollment deadline is usually around MARCH 28.
Shortly after the enrollment deadline, you'll be informed whether you will be in a single or double room. We'll do our best to accommodate your requests.
Unlike Odyssey, which charges separate fees for the workshop and housing, TNEO combines these into a single fee. In addition, the TNEO fee includes our opening night dinner and our closing night dinner. The costs change each year, but as an example, the costs in 2011 were as follows:
Once the moderator informs you whether you'll be in a single or double room, you should submit payment. Checks should be made out to Odyssey and sent to P.O. Box 75, Mont Vernon, NH 03057 by APRIL 12.
Attending TNEO is a great way to gain new insights and perspectives on your writing, to build new momentum, and to make some great friendships. To get the most out of TNEO, you need to begin planning--and writing--now. Those deadlines aren't far away.
I hope to be seeing you and reading your latest work this summer!
COMMENTS FROM TNEO PARTICIPANTS:
"Attending TNEO helped strengthen my writing in so many ways. I identified problems and overcame them. I met new friends. I would recommend it without a doubt."
--Andrew J. Cooper
"This year's TNEO was charged with Odfellows wanting to learn, pitching in and getting it done! Can't wait to apply what I've learned."
"I need to be around writers, and TNEO allows me to do just that."
--P. Matthew Kimmel
"You know it's a good writer's workshop when you go home exhausted and exhilarated. You know it's a great one when you can't wait to get to the keyboard--not only to create new words, but to email new friends."
"I learned new techniques, found where my writing worked well (and where it didn't) and left more energized than I have been all year."
"I came here hoping for inspiration to fan the embers of creativity that Odyssey kindled last year. I leave here ablaze."
"There is something about critical mass. Getting this number of writers together who know what they are doing is exhilarating!"
"I've done a lot of workshops. TNEO is one of the very best--writers lifting up writers. It's totally positive and totally great."
"I thought nothing could do more for my writing than Odyssey did. I don't know if TNEO did more, but it definitely did new. So much helpful brainstorming, so much re-solidifying of forgotten Odyssey principles. So much drive to write write write. This week has been exactly what the wizard ordered!"
"TNEO gives some of the structure a writer's life often lacks: deadlines, consequences for not finishing, and great, well-trained readers to critique your fiction."
"Never has sleep deprivation been more fun!"
--Arthur "Buck" Dorrance
"If it hadn't been for TNEO, I would continue to work on an unpublishable novel. Here I shaped it into something that works."
--P. Matthew Kimmel
"TNEO is a great refresher not just for my writing, but for my life. The lessons we learn here--taught patiently by Jeanne and by our colleagues--apply to all facets of a writing career. I enjoy the chance to learn and teach in a supportive atmosphere along with the top-notch graduates of Odyssey."
"TNEO is a master class available only to graduates of Odyssey, an experience enhanced by one's background and by anticipation of a future populated with the excellent writers who have become part of you at TNEO."
"An invaluable resource for Odyssey alumni. TNEO will provide you with the expertise, camaraderie, and painful epiphany you need to continue on your artistic journey."
"TNEO showed me what kind of writer I might become and helped set me back on that path."
"TNEO is an invaluable resource. A place where committed writers can hone their skills and make new friends. The college atmosphere of Saint Anselm is an island of tranquility--perfect for this very rewarding time. I look forward to TNEO. Always!"
"This was my first TNEO. I came to get feedback, energize my writing, and meet new Odfellows. I got everything I'd hoped for, and more. There's no doubt that TNEO will be part of my future strategy to keep myself motivated and growing as a writer. I am, for the first time in many years of post-academic life, an enthusiastic alumna. Rah! Rah! Sis-boom-bah!"
"TNEO gets better every year, and I had numerous light-bulb moments this go round. It really is a great way to get re-energized and tackle deeper writing issues."
"TNEO provided me with the deadlines I needed, and
perspective on the stories I couldn't figure out how to fix.
Collectively, the Odyssey alumni community has tremendous knowledge and can be
a powerful resource, especially in such a constructive setting."
"Faster paced and more in-depth than Odyssey, my first
TNEO this year was extremely valuable. It built on what I had learned at
Odyssey and allowed me to recognize the progress I had made, as well as sparking
--Colleen H. Robbins
"As a full-time teacher, it's tough for me to
stick to a steady writing schedule. Each summer, TNEO offers me the joy
of reconnecting to my writing. I review what I've written
during the year, sharpen my editing skills with critiques, and develop the
momentum to write again during the long fall, winter, and spring months
when I am bogged down with days of parent/teacher conferences and nights of
grading papers and planning lessons. The fellowship with TNEOers encourages
me to keep writing, and their work inspires me to do my best. TNEO
is a great way to continue your Odyssey experience for far less than the
cost of a good vacation. Try it!"
"I went to TNEO expecting a refresher course in some things I need to be
reminded of and a kick in the butt to get me inspired to do more writing. I got
all that, and so much more that I'm afraid I'm addicted. I didn't think
anything could top Odyssey. I was wrong! In the short space of a week, I
believe I made progress as a writer, learning to pay attention to technical
issues I hadn't considered before and getting great feedback from others to
help me fix things in my novelette that needed fixing. I became a smarter
critiquer, partially due to the fact that we got the manuscripts ahead of time
and I could read something, sleep on it, and really consider why something did
or did not work for me.
"Because of everything I learned at Odyssey last summer, I came into this
workshop at a significantly higher level as a writer. This allowed me to take
advantage of new ideas and techniques beyond what I would have been able to do
last summer. I haven't done as much writing as I would have liked since
Odyssey, but I was relieved to find that the lessons I learned still stuck, and
I wasn't making many of the same old mistakes. Now my attention has been called
to lots more mistakes I didn't even realize I was making, so next year I'll be
"The people were wonderful and I enjoyed getting to meet Odfellows from
different years. Many participants gave lectures or plot dissections which
helped me consider different ways to approach plot. I gave a lecture on
Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots which forced me to go through
the long book in greater detail than I had before. Yes, I learned things I
hadn't on the first read, well, skim, of the book.
"In summary, TNEO is a wonderful thing and I would have been insane to
"TNEO provides me with a yearly focus on my work.
It becomes a goal to write for and provides an audience for my precious but
unfinished work. The atmosphere during the workshop is rigidly
professional, but also very kind and helpful. I look forward to it all
"I found the material presented in the afternoon
lectures to be extremely helpful in a very immediate way with my writing. Most
of the information covered new ground, even when based on books that I've
already read. I left TNEO feeling like I knew more than when I'd come. I also
felt renewed in my desire to write well, and inspired to work harder when I got
home. In fact, the first thing I did when I got home was write out my TNEO
goals and then create a one-year plan to achieve them.
"The caliber of critiques from Odfellows far exceeds those that I've
received in any other critique situation. The short story critiques were
thorough, honest, but always constructive. My stories are guaranteed to be
better as a direct result of the feedback at TNEO.
"I always get more out of TNEO than I hoped for. I
learn new skills, gain confidence that I'm making progress, and make new
friends. One of the best things about Odyssey is that TNEO becomes
--Maggie Della Rocca
"The brilliance of TNEO is that it's a post-graduate,
peer-driven experience. We benefit from the process in ways we'd never
have expected. We receive insights from the most unsuspected sources. All
we have to do is be receptive, and not ego-driven."
"As a full-time management consultant, I rarely have
the time to write as much as I'd like. Since I attended Odyssey, my
interest in transitioning to a writing career has never wavered, but I've
recognized the timing for such a move may not be there for me now. Still,
I've been working in the spare time I can find on two fantasy novels, and TNEO
offered me the opportunity to re-connect with other Odfellows while getting
practical and helpful feedback on what I have written. Where other
writing workshops just wouldn't be possible because of the time involved, the
week-long TNEO is something that even a busy professional can schedule.
The week will be every bit as involving and challenging as you remember Odyssey
to be, but it has provided me with the lift I needed to revise and improve my
work. If you've been thinking about returing to TNEO after a several-year
hiatus like me, I encourage you to join us next time. You'll be glad you did!"
"And the beat goes on. TNEO picks up where
Odyssey left off: learning through lectures, critiques, writing sessions, and
discussions. The master class lectures build upon Odyssey's
foundation. The critiques are stronger because everyone is more
experienced and can complete them before TNEO. It's energizing and
informative to talk about writing with others who share your passion. For
me, attending next year is a no-brainer."
"The brainstorming session at TNEO 2008 provided me
with my first short story publication."
"Hardcore Odfellows come to TNEO. For short story
work in particular I always know I'll receive valuable critical feedback from stern
constructive eyes, and the special alchemy of these dedicated Odyssey grads is
"TNEO is Odyssey's grad school. Come in with your
stories, get feedback, bounce around ideas. Go home renewed and ready to
--Ronya F. McCool
"If you need a workshop to focus your efforts and give
your goals immediacy, TNEO can do the trick. You'll get critical feedback
and learn more about story through critiques than you might realize."
--Jason S. Ridler
"TNEO is a vehicle for catapulting your writing to that
next level, where focus is paramount to any eventual successes."
"I haven't written in some time, and TNEO was a great
way to get me back into it. The critiques were first class."
"TNEO is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other
writers while expanding your repertory of writing tools and receiving the same
professional level of critiques that made Odyssey so valuable. The best
part of TNEO is the camaraderie--those extra conversations and connections you
can make with other writers in your genre."
"I love coming to TNEO. It's a great way to gain
high-level feedback and insights on my novel, and to mesh with other
writers. It's also a wonderful break from real life!"
"The opportunity to workshop a substantial chunk if not
an entire novel, was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The level of
detailed feedback and opportunities to discuss problematic areas and brainstorm
solutions is like nothing else."
"I liken Odyssey to a journey of discovery through
writer's hell, not for the timid or uninspired would-be author. TNEO is
also a journey of discovery, but through heck, accompanied by a fellowship of
writers and friends that make the trip one of camaraderie and personal growth
as a writer. I've been to six and plan to return."
"I come to TNEO for the community as well as the
critiques. It is amazing and gratifying to see people progressing as
writers from year to year. I feel buoyed up by their support."
--Michael J. DeLuca
"To be surrounded by so many talented and committed
writers, all trying to help each other improve their craft, is an experience
I'll never forget. And one I eagerly hope to repeat."
"Not having been an English major, Odyssey gave me the
fundamentals to start putting the pieces of my writing together to get it to a
professional level. However, post-Odyssey life has a way of interfering
in your progress and, despite having notes to reference, it's hard to keep
learning and growing your writing skills and career. For me, this TNEO
revitalized my drive . . . and I am leaving one week later with a plan and a set
of practical tools that are going to keep me writing and help me hone my
skills. I was incredibly impressed with the talent, intellect, and
passion of my fellow Odfellows. The critical and helpful feedback has
given me new perspective into my own stories and prose--and I'm never going to
be able to look at the flaws in my writing the same way again. On Monday
I wasn't able to see that my protagonist had no goal--he was a pawn. By
Friday, it became so obvious I had to laugh at myself. I feel like this
TNEO has given me a real chance to turn my stories into a realistic writing
"I came expecting camaraderie and critiques and found
in addition professional-level master classes and inspiration."
--Scott T. Barnes
"TNEO was a wonderful chance to recharge the writing
batteries, just being around so much energy and talent. The fact that
folks helped fix my writing makes it even sweeter."