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Odyssey Consultations

A consultation

A Message from Jeanne Cavelos, Director, about Consultations:


Maybe you're struggling in the early stages of development of a story or novel. Maybe you've written half of the manuscript and gotten stuck. Maybe you see several possible paths for the story and are uncertain which is the strongest. Maybe you've received feedback from an editor and don't know what to make of it. Or maybe you have some other type of writing problem. Perhaps you tend to write awkward sentences, or to have flat characters, or to dump large chunks of exposition into your scenes, and you'd really like to talk this out with someone.

If this sounds like you, then an Odyssey Consultation may be just what you need. Over my years working with writers, I've found that one-on-one meetings are often the most helpful, where we can brainstorm, toss ideas back and forth, and explore issues more deeply. At the Odyssey Writing Workshop, I have a series of private meetings with students, offering advice, helping them solve writing problems, and talking out story ideas, plots, and characters. Students generally find these very helpful, so I thought other writers might find them helpful as well.

This is a new service, so for now, I am doing all consultations myself. You can find more information about me here.


•  Preparation for consultation:   You can send up to 2,000 words in advance  
•  Length of consultation:   1 hour
•  Venue for consultation:   GoToMeeting.com (details below)
•  Cost for consultation:   $150 via US check, bank draft in US dollars,
or PayPal in US dollars


• Contact me to schedule your consultation. No consultations will be scheduled in January, June, or July due to our other programs.

• Once we have a date scheduled, you can provide up to 2,000 words of your work in advance. This might be a synopsis, an excerpt or complete story, a description of your problem, or whatever you feel would be most helpful. I can't offer to critique whatever you send me—my schedule is too packed, and we have a great critique service if you want feedback—but I will read it before our meeting and jot down some thoughts.

• Payment is due before the date of the consultation. If you're in the US, you can pay via personal check. Those outside the US can pay via bank draft in US dollars. All writers have the option of paying via PayPal in US dollars.

• Before the day of the consultation, make sure that your computer or other device meets the requirements for GoToMeeting, which are listed below. If it doesn't, we can meet by phone or some alternate method, but GoToMeeting is our preferred meeting venue, since it offers much higher sound and video quality.

• At the appointed time, meet me online via GoToMeeting, following the directions below. If you would like the session to be recorded for further reference, let me know. I can make the video available to you for 30 days after our consultation.

• All content from the consultation—ideas, problems, details, stories—are confidential and are the property of the writer. If I suggest something to you and you like it, please feel encouraged to use it. That is your property.


You don't need a GoToMeeting account to attend the consultation. But you do need a fairly up-to-date computer and a good Internet connection. The computer specifications below may look a bit intimidating, if you're not a technical person. Chances are, if you've bought your computer in the last 7 years, it will fulfill the requirements. But to make sure, go through the requirements so you can avoid any problems. Here's what you need:

  • A telephone or a USB headset (made up of headphones and microphone) that you can plug into your computer. If you use a phone, your phone will be charged for a standard long-distance call. If you have a built-in microphone and speakers, you can try using those, though sometimes we have issues with echoes. So a telephone or headset is preferred.
If you have a PC, the following is required:

  • Internet Explorer 7.0 or newer, Mozilla Firefox 4.0 or newer, or Google Chrome 5.0 or newer; in any of these, JavaScript must be enabled

  • Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista, XP, or 2003 Server

  • Dual-core 2.4GHz CPU or faster with 2GB of RAM (recommended)

  • Cable modem, DSL, or better Internet connection

  • 700 Kbps or more bandwidth (you can check your bandwidth here). If you don't have this much bandwidth, you can still participate but will probably need to close the windows showing people's webcams

If you have a Mac, the following is required:

  • Apple Safari v6 or later, Mozilla Firefox v34 or later, or Google Chrome v39 or later; in any of these, JavaScript must be enabled

  • Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or later

  • 2.4 GHz Intel processor (Core 2 Duo), and 1 GB of RAM

  • Cable modem, DSL, or better Internet connection

  • 700 Kbps or more bandwidth (you can check your bandwidth here). If you don't have this much bandwidth, you can still participate but will probably need to close the windows showing people's webcams


It takes just 3 steps.

  1. Before joining, restart your computer, so the computer closes background applications and you start with as little activity in your computer as possible. This is a critical step. After restarting, do not open any files except the browser you need to join the consultation.

    IF USING A USB HEADSET: If you are using a headset (or built-in mic and speakers), you don't need to do anything for your audio except plug in your headset or turn on your speakers. Do that now.

  2. To join, click on this link:


    If prompted, click Yes, Grant or Trust to accept the download. Enter the Meeting ID: 881-412-933

    If you have difficulties, you can contact Jeanne by email.

  3. IF USING A PHONE: A control panel will pop up on your screen with your personal Audio PIN. Now call in with your phone and input the Audio PIN when prompted. This phone call will incur normal long-distance charges.

    Phone Numbers for Participants in Various Countries:

    United States: (872) 240-3412
    Australia: +61 2 9091 7603
    Canada: +1 (647) 497-9380
    New Zealand: +64 (0) 9 974 9579
    Sweden: +46 (0) 852 500 691
    United Kingdom: +44 (0) 20 3713 5011

    Access Code: 881-412-933

    Audio PIN: Shown after joining the consultation


"The Odyssey Consultation Service is an opportunity to receive direct mentorship from someone who sees stories with the hawk eye of an editor, listens with the compassion of a fellow writer, and leads discussion with the sure hand of an experienced teacher. By the end of one session with Jeanne, I understood how to focus setting, structure, and character motivation around my story's emotional core."
—Erin Wilcox

"In my consultation, I hoped for a discussion about the novel and how to get it to the point where it gets done. I've been trying, it seems, the same sort of beginning for seven or eight drafts and while I can get a good bit into the novel, it keeps falling like a cake in an oven when there's a loud noise. We spoke at length about various options and how to make the story, overall, more active and what pitfalls to look out for."
—Holly Stoj

"My consultation with Jeanne was excellent and provided me with the exact sounding board and suggestions I needed. The ability to speak to a talented writer of speculative fiction one on one, particularly one who is also as skilled an instructor as Jeanne, was a rare and rewarding opportunity. Jeanne worked with my questions and made sure each one was addressed and gave me excellent advice on how to move forward. I cannot recommend Jeanne's consultations strongly enough."
—David Heyman

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This page modified Dec 14, 2015
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