Educational Institutions

ODYSSEY WRITING WORKSHOPS CHARITABLE TR

  • Mont Vernon, NH
  • www.odysseyworkshop.org

Mission Statement

The mission of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust is to provide education to writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror that will enable them to improve their writing skills and have their work professionally published.  The organization is based on the principle that writing is one of the hardest things a person can attempt, and that the journey to become the best writer one can be is lifelong.  If a writer wants to reach his full potential, to have his work live and grow along with him, he needs to constantly strive to improve.  Because of this, the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust offers feedback and guidance to writers at all levels, from beginners to successful professionals.  Odyssey conducts workshops, seminars, and online courses, and it provides podcasts, critiques, consultations, online discussion salons, writing and publishing advice, and additional instructional support.

Main Programs

  1. Odyssey Writing Workshop
  2. Odyssey Online Classes
  3. Odyssey Critique Service
  4. The Never-Ending Odyssey
  5. Odyssey Podcasts
  6. Odyssey Consultations
  7. Odyssey Salon

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Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Writers from all over the world participate in Odyssey's workshops and classes.  We have had students from the US, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia.

ruling year

2011

Principal Officer since 2010

Self-reported

Jeanne Cavelos

Keywords

Self-reported

writing, writers, science fiction, fantasy, horror, workshop, creative writing

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EIN

27-2237082

 Number

1275170261

Also Known As

Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Specialized Education Institutions/Schools for Visually or Hearing Impaired, Learning Disabled (B28)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Our primary goal is to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror improve their work. Fifty-nine percent of the graduates of the Odyssey Writing Workshop have gone on to professional publication, the highest known rate of any writing program. Among Odyssey's graduates are New York Times bestsellers, Amazon bestsellers, and award-winners. Odyssey has also been very successful in creating a strong sense of community among those who use our programs, through online discussion groups, convention get-togethers, and the alumni workshop TNEO. This community provides writers with encouragement to persevere, valuable information and feedback on their work, and support in their quests to continue to improve.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Odyssey Writing Workshop

The Odyssey Writing Workshop is a six-week program for adult writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror whose work is approaching publication quality and for published writers who want to improve their work.  The workshop is held on the campus of Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire each summer and combines an advanced curriculum with thorough, in-depth feedback on students' manuscripts.  Jeanne Cavelos,  best-selling author, winner of the World Fantasy Award, and former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, is the primary instructor.  Top authors, editors and agents serve as guest lecturers, and 56% of graduates have gone on to be professionally published. Class size is limited to sixteen.  Those who attend must be ready to put aside all their other concerns and make a single-minded effort to improve their writing.  Class meets for an average of 4 1/2 hours a day, 5 days a week, and students use the remaining time to write, critique each other's work, and complete other class assignments. Students spend at least 8 hours on "homework" each weekday and 12 hours per day on the weekend. This is a serious, demanding program.  Graduates have said that they learned more at Odyssey than they learned in years of workshopping and creative writing classes.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Adults

Budget

Program 2

Odyssey Online Classes

Each online course provides intense instruction focused on a single element of fiction writing for fourteen writers of science fiction, fantasy, or horror.  The courses provide a live class experience using Web conferencing software, and guidance and feedback in between classes through emails, an online discussion group, and phone conferences.  Courses are offered for a variety of skill levels, from beginners to successful professionals.  Lectures are thorough and detailed, assignments are challenging, and feedback is in-depth.  Each winter, two to three courses are offered.
Jeanne Cavelos, best-selling author, winner of the World Fantasy Award, and former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, usually teaches one course.  Additional courses are taught by top authors, editors, and agents.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Adults

Budget

Program 3

Odyssey Critique Service

The Odyssey Critique Service provides authors of science fiction, fantasy and horror with educational feedback on their writing.  Authors can submit manuscripts ranging in length from 20,000-150,000 words and receive in-depth, instructional, professional-level critiques.  Critiques are provided by five Odyssey graduates who have become successful, professional writers.  Critiquers include a bestselling author and a Nebula Award winner.  Critiques average over 9,000 words (17 pages) and also include significant line edits and marginal notes in the manuscript.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Adults

Budget

Program 4

The Never-Ending Odyssey

The Never-Ending Odyssey (TNEO) is an eight-day workshop that provides advanced, graduate-level instruction to writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror who have successfully completed the Odyssey Writing Workshoworkshopping of participants' manuscripts , writing exercises, brainstorming and problem-solving sessions, read-alouds, writing sessions and literary discussions.  Many of the stories and novels critiqued at TNEO go on to be professionally published.  Activities generally run from 9 AM to 9 PM each day.  The workshop is overseen by Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos and a volunteer moderator.  Lectures are given by participants.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Adults

Budget

Program 5

Odyssey Podcasts

Odyssey Podcasts are offered free online each month on our Web site.  Guest lectures at the Odyssey Writing Workshop are recorded. With the lecturers' permission, excerpts 10-15 minutes long from those recordings are posted online to provide free education to writers of fantasy, science fiction and horror. A volunteer selects and edits the excerpts and another volunteer posts the podcasts on our site.  Ten podcasts are posted per year. It's hard to know exactly how many people are listening since they can listen in different ways, but the podcasts have at least 300 listeners and possibly several thousand.  Many writers have emailed their thanks to us for providing this free resource.
for providing this free resource.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Adults

Budget

Program 6

Odyssey Consultations

Not available

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Adults

Budget

Program 7

Odyssey Salon

Not available

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Adults

Budget

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    If you are not a writer of fantasy, science fiction, or horror, you may wonder why Odyssey is necessary. While college creative writing programs are numerous, few allow students to submit fantastic fiction, and even fewer have faculty and students equipped to provide insightful critiques on such material. Writers of the fantastic who participate in such programs are often discouraged, and those who don't often work in isolation, with no guidance on how to improve. By bringing together faculty and students who are familiar with fantastic fiction and who believe in its value as an art form, Odyssey creates a valuable educational experience that allows students to make significant improvements in their writing.

    The goal of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust is to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror to improve their work and to continue writing, working to improve, and submitting their work to publishers, so they can build successful careers as professional writers. To fulfill this goal, Odyssey has these subsidiary goals: to convey the difficulty of writing; the degree of commitment required; the necessity to listen to and learn from feedback; the necessity to continue learning and improving throughout one's life, the idea that it is possible, if one perseveres, to improve and succeed; the value of fantastic fiction as an art form; and the joy of writing. Odyssey also works to create positive communities in which writers can receive encouragement, information, understanding, and advice.

    Over the next several years, our goals are to develop additional programs and resources to help more writers, and to improve our support and community-building mechanisms so that writers persevere in this difficult and life-long endeavor.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    To help students improve as much as possible in a short period, Odyssey places great demands on them and encourages them to strive for excellence. In all our programs, we give participants a clear idea of the strengths and weaknesses in their writing, and provide the tools needed to reduce their weaknesses and build on their strengths. Key to this process is receiving in-depth feedback that is both truthful and helpful. Through lectures, workshopping, private meetings, and assignments, Odyssey creates an environment that is supportive yet challenging.

    Different programs use additional strategies. At the Odyssey Writing Workshop, our 6-week program founded in 1996, top writers, editors, and agents participate as guest lecturers. Since students live on campus for 6 weeks, we do community-building activities, such as weekly cookouts and writing games.

    The Never-Ending Odyssey (TNEO), the 8-day workshop for Odyssey workshop graduates started in 1998, utilizes the skills of participants, many of whom are successful, professional writers, to create a collaborative, energizing program. Professionals and near-professionals work together to improve their skills, giving lectures and participating in workshopping; plotting, brainstorming, and problem-solving sessions; read-alouds; writing sessions; and literary discussions.

    For some writers, the most helpful information they can receive is feedback on their writing. So in 2006 we started the Odyssey Critique Service, which allows writers to send in manuscripts of 20,000 to 150,000 words and receive in-depth, instructional, professional-level feedback. Critiques average over 8,000 words (15 pages) and include significant line edits and marginal notes.

    Since many writers find it difficult to attend the 6-week Odyssey workshop, we added online classes in 2010. Live online class meetings create an interactive experience. Each online course focuses on a single element of fiction writing, so in a class lasting about 5 weeks, we can explore that element in depth, offering major insights to students. The intense, 90-minute classes and challenging homework assignments encourage students to devote themselves to the work. Guidance and in-depth feedback between class sessions through emails, a discussion group, and 1-on-1 meetings keep students involved and engaged. Online courses are offered to writers at various stages of development, from beginners to successful professionals.

    Odyssey offers support to graduates of its programs and to other writers. We form numerous online discussion groups, so that graduates of our programs can keep in touch, discuss writing issues, receive support, and exchange critiques. We also offer free online resources for all writers, including podcasts, a blog, an online discussion salon, and writing and publishing tips.

    We are constantly exploring potential new programs and methods of helping writers, and adding them as possible.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Odyssey's greatest resource is its founder and director, Jeanne Cavelos. Her passion is to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, so they can fully realize their potential and create work that moves, enlightens, and entertains readers. She works tirelessly to make sure every program and resource offered is the best it can possibly be. By studying the feedback of students and evaluating the efficacy of each of our offerings, Jeanne formulates strategies for improving our programs and resources, and then, with the help of independent contractors and volunteers, makes those improvements. She is also constantly evaluating potential new programs and resources Odyssey could offer, and moving ahead with the most promising of those as possible.

    Odyssey has great capability through its volunteers. Many of the graduates of Odyssey's programs are eager to help. Volunteers maintain our Web site; moderate our discussion groups; moderate workshopping sessions and give lectures at TNEO; edit our podcasts; run our blog; research new technology we might use; and do many other tasks to help Odyssey achieve its goals.

    Many people in the fantasy, science fiction, and horror communities support Odyssey and add to our capabilities. Top writers often contact Odyssey and ask to be considered as teachers for our workshop or online classes. Odyssey graduates who have become successful writers are a great support to us, working as guest lecturers, online teachers, critiquers for our critique service, and contributors to our blog. Guest lecturers and graduates spread the word about the value of Odyssey's programs.

    Holding our in-person programs, Odyssey and TNEO, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, allows us access to a wide array of facilities, including a high-tech classroom, library, computer center, coffee shop, and student apartments. Saint Anselm was recently rated the 17th most beautiful campus by Princeton Review. Odyssey students love the food, the peaceful grounds, and the friendly, efficient staff. Saint Anselm is one of the finest small liberal arts colleges in the country, dedicated to excellence in education, and its campus provides a beautiful setting and high-quality facilities for the workshop. Our workshops are held during the summer, when the college has facilities available.

    GoToMeeting allows us to hold live, online class sessions with a minimum of technical glitches. Other Web resources, such as Yahoo Groups and Screencast, allow class members to communicate with each other and the instructor, and to view recordings of class meetings to reinforce their learning.

    Additional Web resources, such as Facebook groups and Google Hangouts, are constantly being added to help build supportive communities.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Participants in every Odyssey program are asked to fill out anonymous evaluation forms, so we can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the programs and make improvements. The length of Odyssey's evaluation forms is legendary; we try to cover every aspect of a program.

    At the 2015 Odyssey Writing Workshop, 15 out of 15 students rated the program "excellent." Ratings for Odyssey have been pretty uniformly high over the years, though the 100% excellent ratings have occurred mainly in the past 10 years or so. The percent of graduates who have had their work professionally published has increased over the years, rising from 40% in 2003 to 59% in 2014.

    At TNEO 2015, 3 participant rated the program "good"; 18 participants rated it "excellent." Of this year's participants, 76% had attended TNEO in a previous year. Repeat participation is a strong indication that the program is working well. Eighty-six percent said they plan to come again. All 2015 participants said they would recommend TNEO to other Odyssey alumni.

    Our 2015 online classes were taught by three different instructors. Of the students who returned evaluations, these were the results:

    Class 1: excellent--11, good--1
    Class 2: excellent--7, good--4, fair--1
    Class 3: excellent--12, good--1

    The evaluations for class 2 offered a number of suggestions on how the course could be improved, so we will work on addressing those issues before offering it again. In general, our ratings have been improving since 2010, when we launched the online courses, showing that our courses are becoming more effective.

    The Odyssey Critique Service has provided feedback to 17 authors in 2014. All authors were extremely satisfied with the critiques they received. Six of the authors were repeat customers, which shows how useful they feel the feedback is.

    Many writers attend more than one of Odyssey's programs. Many graduates of the Odyssey workshop attend TNEO or take our online classes. Many TNEO participants attend almost every year. Some online class graduates apply to and are accepted to the Odyssey workshop. Many graduates of our programs use the critique service, and many clients of the critique service go on to take an online class or apply to the workshop. This shows that we are providing useful resources that authors need.

    In 1996, when Odyssey offered its first workshop, it helped 16 writers. In 2015, Odyssey helped 97 writers through its programs; 537 graduates through its support groups; at least 1700, and possibly several thousand, who learned from our free resources; and 2576 who received tips and information through our Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and Pinterest pages.

    These indicators show that we are helping more and more writers in the fantasy, science fiction, and horror community, and that our programs are generally extremely successful. We continue to work to expand our offerings and to reach more writers.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Odyssey has been helping more and more writers, expanding its offerings, and improving its programs. Volunteers and independent contractors have offered great assistance, allowing us to be more effective and productive.

    Our experience over the years has taught us to consider any changes or new programs carefully, and to expand slowly, so we have time to evaluate results and make changes. Our online classes are a good example of this. We offered just one in 2010, our first year; then offered one full-length course and two mini-courses in 2011; two full-length courses and one mini-course in 2012; and three full-length courses in 2013, since students said they liked the full-length courses best. We would like to offer some longer courses and webinars as we are able.

    We've also learned to fully examine all aspects of our programs and make improvements wherever possible. Since the Odyssey Writing Workshop began in 1996, it has been improved in countless ways. For example, we added a writer-in-residence, lengthened our class sessions, began requiring students to provide two stories for critique before the workshop, and added structured one-on-one meetings every two weeks.

    To help writers who have individual problems, in May 2015, we added Odyssey Consultations. These allow a writer to meet online with Director Jeanne Cavelos to talk out a writing problem. Thus far, feedback has been extremely positive.

    We're currently developing several new resources, including an audio library that would allow workshop graduates to access recordings of guest lectures, and a free Odyssey app that would offer daily encouragement and motivation to writers.

    We're exploring several possible additions to our offerings, including a writers' retreat, a workshop aimed solely at novelists with works in progress, webinars, and longer online courses. We also need to improve our website.
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Writers from all over the world participate in Odyssey's workshops and classes.  We have had students from the US, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia.

Social Media

Blog

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Financials

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

ODYSSEY WRITING WORKSHOPS CHARITABLE TR

Leadership

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Principal Officer

Jeanne Cavelos

BIO

Jeanne Cavelos is a writer, editor, scientist, and teacher. She began her professional life as an astrophysicist and mathematician, working in the Astronaut Training Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

But soon her love of science fiction led her to earn her MFA in creative writing. She moved into a career in publishing, becoming a senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, where she created and launched the Abyss imprint of innovative horror and the Cutting Edge imprint of noir literary fiction. She also ran the science fiction/fantasy publishing program. In her eight years in New York publishing, she edited numerous award-winning and best-selling authors and gained a reputation for discovering and nurturing new writers. Jeanne won the World Fantasy Award for her editing.

Jeanne left New York to find a balance that would allow her to do her own writing and work in a more in-depth way with writers. She has had seven books published by major publishers. Her last novel to hit the stores was Invoking Darkness, the third volume in her best-selling trilogy The Passing of the Techno-Mages (Del Rey), set in the Babylon 5 universe. The Sci-Fi Channel called the trilogy "A revelation for Babylon 5 fans. . . . Not 'television episodic' in look and feel. They are truly novels in their own right." Her book The Science of Star Wars (St. Martin's) was chosen by the New York Public Library for its recommended reading list. The Science of The X-Files (Berkley) was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. Jeanne is currently writing a near-future science thriller about genetic manipulation, titled Fatal Spiral.

Jeanne has published short fiction and nonfiction in many magazines and anthologies.

The Many Faces of Van Helsing, an anthology edited by Jeanne, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. The editors at Barnes and Noble called it "brilliant. . . . Arguably the strongest collection of supernatural stories to be released in years."

Since she loves working with developing writers, Jeanne founded Odyssey and serves as primary instructor at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, the only major workshop of its kind run by an editor. Jeanne designed the workshop to combine an advanced curriculum that allows writers to improve their craft with detailed, in-depth feedback on their work. In 2010, Jeanne launched Odyssey Online Classes to help writers all over the world improve their skills in specific, targeted areas. Jeanne oversees the courses offered and teaches one online course per year. Jeanne was recently nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her work as Odyssey director and instructor.

She is also an English lecturer at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she teaches fiction writing and essay writing.

Jeanne has spoken widely on writing, publishing, science, and science fiction at the Smithsonian Institute, the Air Force Revolutionary Technologies Division, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and more. www.jeannecavelos.com

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Jeanne Cavelos

Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

N/A

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

N/A

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

N/A

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?