Both of these stories were published this January 2021. They are written in completely different styles, both delightful in their own way, and deal with complicated situations or experiences that must be overcome.
SECRETS OF THE KATH by Fatima Taqvi depicts a play with moving, moving parts that reflect reality. There’s ignorance and there’s silence and one is not an excuse for the other. A beautifully written story with depth of meaning about a character faced with the costs associated with her way of life. Published in Strange Horizons.
THINGS TO BRING, THINGS TO BURN, THINGS BEST LEFT BEHIND by C. E. McGill is about Oz, a man chosen by his town to be the one sacrificed to the mountain. This is his journey, both literal and metaphorical, about climbing that mountain in order to provide the blessings his town requires to survive. This is a tale about the weights we carry and those we overcome. Published in Fantasy Magazine.
During the course of the workshop each of us had to meet with Jeanne three times throughout the six weeks. Once during each two-week span to talk about our weaknesses, strengths, goals, & progress, etc. I ended up having five meetings with her.
[It’s been a few months at this point, so hopefully my memory is correct. If it’s not, then it’s pretty close and the only issues might be exactly which meeting encompassed which discussion.]
Because of the way the submission schedule had been set up, my first submission wasn’t until almost the end of the second week of the workshop. I had a future submission schedule of four submissions due all within an 11 day time frame though, so I knew I had to be working on new stories during that first two weeks. Because I wanted to actually progress, I requested a short meeting with Jeanne earlier on so I might get a little idea on where I could focus on my current WIPS. Continue reading
Posted in Odyssey Workshop
Tagged character, fantasy, fiction, flash, plot, private meeting, progress, reading, sci-fi, science-fiction, short story, voice, workshop, writing
THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY
This novel took me for an emotional ride. The lead character, Nora, is a thirty-five year old woman who, at the start of this novel, is in a pit of despair and depression, believing that she’s a failure, that she’s unaccomplished, that she’s missed out on chance after chance in her life. This is a novel about regrets, about how we hold on to them, how we envision these other lives as perfect bubbles that we might have had if we’d only chosen the right decision at certain crossroads in our lives.
This is the exact chance Nora receives once she arrives at the midnight library. She is allowed to try out all the lives she might have had and, ultimately, pick the one she wishes to live, the one she feels she should have had all along, to keep forever.
Beautifully written, this novel is especially for anyone feeling similarly to Nora, feeling as if you’ve missed out on who you could have been or what you could have accomplished. It’s for anyone who would love that sense of trying on all those other countless parallel yous that might have existed.
The two stories I’m recommending today have to deal with claiming oneself rather than being or doing what others expect of you. This is particularly true of woman in many societies, where we have been taught that our purpose is to serve, to sacrifice. These stories push against that narrative in delightful ways.
CONSOLIDATION by Langley Hyde is a science-fiction tale about an android fit with an adaptive/pleasing personality who is then repurposed in order to help exterminate natives on a planet. This is her tale of discovery, her tale of waking up, of realizing the pressures of her programming that represent so keenly the issues that woman face. Published in Escape Pod.
THE DRAGON MAKER by Amy Clare Fontaine is a shorter piece about a woman who can draw dragons into life who is pushed to begin drawing dragons for others rather than herself. If you’ve ever felt this pressure to use your passions or your skills for other people, whether through work, hobbies, or otherwise, this story will speak to you. Published in Zooscape.
One day during each week we were taught by a guest rather than Jeanne. These guests included: J. G. Faherty, Brandon Sanderson, Eric James Stone, E.C. Ambrose, Barbara Ashford, and Scott H. Andrews. Each of them taught a class on a different subject, from horror and world-building, to plot and publishing. They would all have Q&A sessions, and a few of them would stay for our Salon & Games after our group thank yous.
There were also a few guests who came for a very limited time. These included people such as Carrie Vaughn, James Joseph Adams, & Sheila Williams. They each did a Q&A session with us and some of them then did private critiques with a few people. Sheila Williams was kind enough to give me some advice on how to be a shy, socially anxious person within the industry as she’s also dealt with similar struggles and that was incredibly helpful and inspiring.
A few of these guests also did critiques with us. Brandon Sanderson did an in-class one for me, while E.C. Ambrose and Scott H. Andrews did private ones. Some of the guests were kinder and gentler than others, and some of them were more than willing to support us in our journeys, which was beyond kind of them :)
As a part of our thank you to each of our guests, Jeanne and Amy showed a past Odyssey t-shirt that represented something similar to what they would be getting once our year’s came in. This was actually what they were sent: our 2020 aptly named Viscerally Vexing since it can stand for both the crazy year we’ve all been having and the words we struggled over during Odyssey.
I think the best part of the having the varied guests drop-in virtually for us was to really shine a spotlight on how different people’s opinions are, how subjective the magazine and novel world is, and how our own specific writing voice has a home, we just have to discover where that is.
<3 Marie C.
Posted in Odyssey Workshop
Tagged critique, fantasy, flash, horror, lecture, novel, odyssey, reading, sci-fi, science-fiction, short story, workshop, writing