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Your last novel ... hmmm

21/10/2006. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Odyssey is now offering a new resource to budding science fiction and fantasy writers, the Odyssey Critique Service.

Since the Odyssey Writing Workshop was established in 1996, requests have poured in from writers unable to attend the intensive, six-week program. Some feel they aren't yet ready to attend Odyssey; some have applied but haven't been admitted; some are unable to attend due to work, family, or finances; some are searching for a taste of the Odyssey experience so they can decide whether it's right for them. People have asked for critiques on their application stories so they can improve them for next year; they've asked to come for part of the workshop; they've asked for a shorter workshop; they've asked to participate in the workshop via the Internet--in short, they've asked for some way to get help with their writing.

Workshop director Jeanne Cavelos says, "The mission of Odyssey is to help developing writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror improve their work. I've been searching for the best way to extend that help beyond the sixteen people who attend Odyssey each summer. To that end, we've created the Odyssey Critique Service."

The Odyssey Critique Service provides authors a method of receiving professional-level feedback done in accordance with Odyssey principles and with the thoroughness and depth for which Odyssey is known.

Authors can submit several pieces of their writing. They will receive detailed feedback on each piece, plus an overall assessment of their writing, including strengths and weaknesses that appear repeatedly in their work, and specific suggestions for improving those weak areas. Novelists may submit several chapters or even an entire novel.

Josh Roberts, the first client of the Odyssey Critique Service, said, "This was absolutely the best, most useful feedback I've ever received on my writing. It was clear that Barbara [Campbell] had not only read my manuscript, but read it twice, and tailored her feedback to help me identify what she saw as my strengths and weaknesses. Her comments were useful and specific. She challenged some of the basic assumptions of my plot and characters. She didn't allow me to get away with any shortcuts as a writer."

For more details, visit http://www.sff.net/odyssey/crit.html, call (603) 673-6234, or e-mail jcavelos@sff.net.

A portion of all proceeds from the critique service goes to support Odyssey, to help keep the workshop alive and keep tuition costs down.

All submissions are read by one of the critiquers listed below, who have been handpicked for their outstanding critiquing skills. They have all graduated from Odyssey and know its critique principles well. Since Odyssey, they have all become successful professional writers.

MEET THE CRITIQUERS

CARRIE VAUGHN

Carrie graduated from Odyssey in 1998 (the year Harlan Ellison was Writer-in- Residence). An Air Force brat, she's managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado. She has a Masters in English Lit. Her second novel, Kitty Goes to Washington, is due out July 2006, and she's hard at work on the third and fourth books in that series. Her short stories have appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Weird Tales, Talebones, Paradox, Polyphony, and various anthologies. Read some of her work at www.carrievaughn.com, www.futurismic.com, and www.talebones.com. She writes novels and short stories across the genre, from science fiction to traditional fantasy, urban fantasy, space opera, horror, and paranormal.

Carrie's been in various critique groups almost continuously for over ten years, where she's critiqued novels and short stories across all genres. She's critiqued beginning, unpublished writers, as well as award winners.

THEODORA GOSS

Theodora Goss attended Odyssey in 2000. Her short story collection, In the Forest of Forgetting, is forthcoming from Prime Books in the spring of 2006. In 2004, she won a Rhysling Award for speculative poetry. Her short stories and poems have been published in Alchemy, Realms of Fantasy, Polyphony, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, Flytrap, and Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and have been reprinted in Year's Best Fantasy, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens. Her short story "The Wings of Meister Wilhelm" was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Visit her website at www.theodoragoss.com, and find out more about her short story collection at www.forestofforgetting.com.

BARBARA CAMPBELL

Barbara Campbell attended Odyssey in 2000. Her first novel - Heartwood - was published by DAW Books in May 2005. Bloodstone, the second book in the series Trickster's Game, will be published in August 2006. A lyricist and librettist as well as a novelist, she is a member of SFWA and ASCAP. Visit her Website at www.barbara-campbell.com.

A member of the Gandalf Grants Review Committee for Odyssey and a regular participant in The Never-Ending Odyssey (for graduates of the workshop), Barbara believes that thoughtful, in-depth critiques are vital to all authors. "It's hard to get enough distance from your work to view it critically. Whether it's a scene that provokes a response you weren't expecting or prose that muddies the impact you're trying to achieve, the critique process can highlight strengths as well as weaknesses, and provide insight into aspects of your writing that may be interfering with your story-telling."

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