“Out of Excuses” The Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat
June 10 – 16, 2013

For the first time, the Writing Excuses team is hosting a workshop and retreat for our listeners. This week long event gives you one on one time with the hosts, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Tayler.

Registration is currently sold out. Please scroll down for information about the waiting list.


The week kicks off with three full days of intensive workshops taught by the WX hosts. All on-campus meals are included during the week.

WX will also be recording sessions while there, so you will get an opportunity to shape episodes by the questions you ask. Plus you get to watch the team record live.

Starting on Wednesday evening, the remainder of the week is time for you to put what you learned to good use, and write. You’re out of excuses…


Woodthrush WoodsThis event is being held at Woodthrush Woods in Chattanooga, TN. Set on thirteen wooded acres, Mary Robinette Kowal’s grandfather built this house on the old family farm. There are two houses on the rustic property, the main house, Woodhrush Woods itself and the log house, Robin’s Roost. Walking paths allow you to explore the grounds, wade in the creek, or just sit in the rocking chairs on the front porch. Mary’s grandfather was an electrician so there are outlets everywhere and wifi throughout both houses.

That’s right, you can write outside in the pergola with an outlet and wifi.

Because Mary’s grandparents built their home to entertain and hold folk dances, the spacious rooms provide plenty of places to write in a group or find a private space.

Workshops will be held in the sunroom at Robin’s Roost.

Meals on-campus are part of your registration. This includes a continental breakfast served in both houses, lunches at Robin’s Roost, and dinners at Woodthrush Woods.

Please note: This is a private residence built in the first half of the 1900s, and not wheelchair accessible. There are steps and raised thresholds everywhere.

(Since this is a private residence, the exact address will only be given to attendees.)



A limited number of rooms are available “on campus” for a full immersion experience. Prices for those include registration, meals, and the room. Please read the descriptions carefully as there are rooms in both Woodthrush Woods and Robin’s Roost.

We have also arranged for a block of rooms at a nearby Best Western, which is an easy quarter mile walk to Woodthrush. Total cost for a room in the Best Western block is $492.38. This is in addition to the registration fee. If this is your chosen housing option, register with basic attendance registration and further instructions will be sent to you.


In addition to the workshops, which are included in registration, attendees also have the option to sign up for breakout sessions with individual instructors. The breakout sessions allow more concentrated time in a smaller class size, or one-on-one. Each participant may sign up for one breakout. Those sessions are:

Brandon Sanderson: Blue Pencil Session

This is 15 minute one-on-one editing session. Bring the first five pages of a manuscript and get immediate feedback on your writing from a best-selling author. You can set the focus, whether it is plot, style, or general advice.

Dan Wells: 8-person Outlining Session

Each person must come prepared with a story idea, including an ending, and Dan will help turn it into a working outline ready for you to start writing.

Mary Robinette Kowal: Critique group

An 8 member critique group. Members will submit short stories up to 7500 words for critique by the group as well as Mary. (Please note that this means you are committing to critique the stories of the other group members.)

Howard Tayler: Blurb in 15 Minutes

Sit down with Howard and get your blurb on. In this short, tightly-focused session Howard will work with you on crafting a fifty- to one-hundred word blurb designed to turn browsers and window-shoppers into buyers.

Registration has sold out, but there is a waiting list available. If a spot opens up, you will be notified by email in the order in which your name is on the list. You will have 24 hours to respond once a spot opens.


We will offer a full refund if there is someone to take your slot. (You may also transfer it to someone else if you wish.)

If not then:

  • Full refund until January 1st
  • 75% refund until March 1st
  • 50% refund until May 1st
  • No refunds after May 1st

If you’ve got additional questions or concerns, please email retreat@writingexcuses.com, and we’ll answer your question just as soon as we can.

105 thoughts on ““Out of Excuses” The Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat
June 10 – 16, 2013”

  1. Three days of workshops? Guess we’re not in that much of a hurry. ;)

    Exciting news! Definitely will be signing up if it doesn’t insta-sell-out.

  2. Oh wow. I want to go just because I think that’s one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen.

    Unfortunately I’ll have just had my first child and won’t have the vacation days to spend. Best of luck to the hosts and the attendees.

  3. Hi. This sounds very awesome. Is it open to people outside the United States?



  4. Advanced congratulations then, Joe. I think I’ll try to wrangle a few days of leave and see if I can squeeze in some time.

  5. Sandra and I have both enjoyed writers’ retreats at Woodthrush Woods. It’s delightful, and if you need to do some “out of the box” thinking, it’s a fantastic option.

    The weird part is walking into a room full of people, sitting down within arm’s length of a good friend, and saying ABSOLUTELY NOTHING because everyone is writing. It feels rude at first, but after a day or two you realize that different rules apply.

    I’m really looking forward to this event, both the workshops and the retreat itself.

  6. Wow, I’m having such a conflicted fanboi moment. I want be sitting up at 12am making sure I get the best room, but I know I can’t possibly afford it this year. Hopefully this will continue in future years so I can participate! Great idea, guys.

  7. @David Lein: I don’t see why it wouldn’t be, provided you can be IN the United States (specifically, in Chattanooga, Tennessee) for the event. There might be hiccups in the registration system depending on your mode of payment. We’ll have to look into that.

  8. This sounds amazing. Would almost be tempted if I wasn’t already doing Superstars of Writing in Denver in 2013. I expect it to sell out quickly though.

    Are you guys going to record the workshop portions and sell those as well?

  9. +Patrick Sullivan: We’re currently planning on recording episodes, which will be shaped by the discussions, but I don’t think we’ll record the workshops at this first one.

  10. Are slots opened according to the waitlist or will it be first-come first-serve on the registration day? I put my name on the waitlist but didn’t receive a confirmation email. Is that normal?

  11. Oh man, I was planning to go to DragonCon or WorldFantasy this year, but forget that. I’d much rather use my vacation time for this.

  12. @Jeff Whitaker: It will be first-come-first serve on registration day.

    The Waiting List button was not supposed to show up until after registration opened and then sold out. You and one other person wound up on the list before we noticed. You were about to get an email from me with apologies. And we got it fixed.

    @Gabriel: Yes, money is due upon registration but it is refundable if Life intervenes. That does make me realize that we need to clarify that. I’ll get back to you with the formal policy.

  13. Ah man, this is when being a broke art student with loans bites you in the rear end. I can get there but just can’t afford it. I think Patrick Sullivan touched on this but is there anyway you guys can post this on the web? Like a live youtube or podcast so viewers can add to discussion or something? Or is it just going to be thrown in Writing Excuses? Just a thought. Anyway, sounds like a great opportunity.

  14. This sounds awesome, but my wife and I are expecting our first born in April of next year. Hopefully this is a resounding success and becomes a yearly event.

  15. Question about room occupancy. The rooms that can fit two people – is it required that they are shared? How does sharing affect the registration cost? Just want to clarify everything before the 15th rolls around. This looks amazing! Thanks.

  16. @Emily:

    Regarding room occupancy: It is not required that they be shared. The prices are for single occupancy. If you want to have a roommate, then one of you signs up for the room — which includes registration — and the other signs up for a basic membership. The two of you can then split the difference in the room rate. My suggestion would be that one person does both registrations at the same time.

    (The room rates all start with the base price of a basic membership, so just subtract $500 to see what the room cost is if you want to split a room.)

    Along those lines, it is important to note that going above the maximum occupancy listed for a room is not okay. In other words no sleeping bags and air mattresses.

  17. Hi Mary. I was looking at the Hersel’s Room and it says that it has a private bath. Does that me a fully equipped bathroom with tub/shower?



  18. @David: Hersel’s Room is toilet, sink, and shower. No tub, alas.

    Also, I should note that the full bed is narrower than a double-bed, so it’s really only comfortable for one person or a very cozy couple. There’s also a trundle mattress under the bed that you can put two more people on.

  19. Hello everyone. I have recently come into an abundance of time after my contract expired, and have the lump income I got from that endeavor. This is to say, there is no reason for me not to do this.
    I have have no new stories because of what I stated earlier, and will be coming in with a pretty blank slate, but I think it could be just the thing to get a jump start a fresh idea. Is it assumed that attendees come in to this with a pretty developed, concrete idea to start with, or is there any negative if one does this?

    And speaking of negatives, would smoking outside on the premises be allowed? Obviously no one would be so rude as to do it inside.

  20. What’s the bathroom situation look like for the rooms without the attached bath…. Also, is Howard required to be wearing pants at all times? ;)

  21. Bathrooms: There are 4 full baths in Woodthrush Woods, and 1 in Robin’s Roost.

    @Jack: No. You do not need to come in with a developed concrete idea. You could start something new, though clearly signing up for one of the critique sessions would not be useful without a finished story. On the flip side, while the emphasis of the week is definitely on writing, if someone had editing that the needed time and space to focus on, this is also a good environment for that.

    Smoking: I’m checking with my parents.

  22. I was wondering if this retreat would focus on short stories or would it also be helpful for we novelists?

  23. Unless I’m simply outbid, I will be at this retreat. Would it be a good idea for us to bring along a small printer in our luggage with our laptops? Also, will you want us to submit samples of our writing before we show up?

    — david j.

  24. Maybe I’m missing it, but what exactly is included in “three full days of intensive workshops”?

  25. oh wow, this is an amazing offer. when i clicked on it, i expected it to be at least a plane ticket away. imagine my surprise that it is only an hour away and in a town where i have people to stay with. alas, then i realized i’m a college student. student discounts??

  26. couldn’t have announced it earlier? :( no way i can have an extra $500 in time for registration. i guess there is next year???? ;) …well, next, next year??? -.-

  27. Aw, man. I’m finally first (or second) for something and it doesn’t count. Guess I got a little excited. I’ll be exercising my clicky finger until the 15th :)

  28. I am a broke bloke, but this sounds awesome, extremely helpful, and a breath of fresh air (literally… I guess). If there is anyone out there who can’t make it and wants to live through osmosis or would like to sponsor somebody for the retreat, look no further. I will gladly wear a shirt with a picture of you on ALL days there. hahahaha ;)

    Have fun on the retreat everybody! The place looks inspiring.

  29. I am staring at this in envy. I’d love to do it — sadly, I don’t have the money (the joys of just graduating college!), but I’m envious of anyone who has the opportunity to go! If it’s successful, maybe organize a more in the future?

  30. Thank you for doing something like this. I think whoever attends will greatly benefit.

    Are you going to be running this regularly if the first one is successful? I’d love to go, but I can’t afford it at the moment. If I knew this was going to happen a long way out I’d definitely put some money away so that I could attend.

  31. Repeat events would probably depend on the level of participation and the state of Mary’s grandparent’s house afterwards. So to those who are lucky enough to be going, be on your best behavior!

  32. Wow. I am so excited about this. What a dream team at a fabulous location! I am really looking forward to registering and I hope I can be one of the lucky ones that gets a spot! Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting this together. Now, let’s keep it as quiet as possible until my registration is in on Oct 15 at 12:01. :)

  33. May I suggest a scholarship spot for this or the next retreat? Say, the winner of a diabolical writing prompt contest? I am a young mom, just bought a house, but something like this would be SUCH a blessing!

    Just a thought. :)

  34. I promise that if I get in I will do my best not to go all fanboy on you guys :) And since I live in Nashville, this is very close!! This is so exciting!

  35. Looks like Harrison is about fifteen minutes from the house.

    Jesse: Three days of intensive workshops means that we’ll be working with you for about eight hours a day. We’re still setting the schedule. Basically, think of our episodes and then figure that we’re not in a hurry and can get really in depth into things.

  36. Mary: that sounds awesome! I’m often disappointed at the end of each 15 minute episode because I always want you to go more in-depth. And now I will have that opportunity :)
    Still, you all should write a Writing Excuses book on writing for everyone who cannot make it :P (You could call it No Excuses Writing)

  37. AHHH!!! I live two hours from Chattanooga but less than two weeks is too short of time to try to come up with $500…I would totally go if I had known a month or two in advance.

  38. This sounds amazing. It’s too bad I live so far away. It would be so cool if Writing Excuses does this again maybe a little closer to home. Also, more notice would be nice. That’s a lot of money in a short amount of time.

  39. I’m actually very interested in possibly trying to get into this workshop- I’m just not sure what exactly is going to be going on. It says that the first three days are workshops taught by you guys which would be Mon-Wed. But then it says that you start writing on Tuesday…does that mean that writing sessions are part of the workshops? Or is that a typo? When will the bonus content workshops take place? And are the recordings of WX going to be part of the three days of workshops or are those on different days? More info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  40. To verify, the $500 for general admission is due up front at the time of registration?

    If that’s the case, for any of the other housing options, is the listed price due up front as well (for ex. will the $1,200 for Hershel’s Room be due up front)?

  41. Heard from the higher ups from work on thursday and am not able to go. I work in a school library and was not granted the time off. Really bummed out as this would have been such a great adventure as I hardly get to travel. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it goes well and if you are considering a second one in 2014, may I please recommend the last week of June, or anytime during the summer.

    Happy holiday long weekend (It’s Thanksgiving in Canada…not sure what it is in the USA)



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