“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. got everything lined up to go! I just hope i can register before all the seats are gone. is there any type of expectation of skill for this? as a young writer in college working on my first project, I’ve got no shame in admitting that I’m kind of intimidated by this.

  2. That looks awesome! I predict it’ll sell out faster than Session 1 of the Rainforest Writers Retreat. =)

    The retreat is a week after my birthday, so I am seriously thinking about justifying the expense as my birthday present to myself.

  3. Since you’ll be covering topics from writing excuses episodes (but in more depth) as was mentioned by Mary, will there be value for those of us who have been listening, since um, … the middle of Season One?

    I would very much love to fly over from Austria to attend the workshop, but I’m slightly hesitant because I’m not sure if this workshop will be geared towards new, intermediate, or advanced listeners/writers. (I myself firmly fall in the middle.)

    If this year’s a success and you decide to do it again, perhaps you could do a couple of workshops, one geared toward the beginner and the other geared toward more advanced writing topics?

    Thanks for your thoughts and clarification.

  4. @Melissa (and others), regarding content:

    You’ve raised a great point, which is that we really ought to have provided a syllabus of some sort up front. All four of us are seasoned presenters, accustomed to working in 60, 90, and 120-minute formats, but unless you’ve seen us at symposiums, conferences, or conventions you have no way of knowing that.

    We’re working on a rough outline of the syllabus right now. There are topics we want to cover individually, which we never get to explore in depth on the ‘cast, and we’re hammering a list together so you’ll know what those core topics are.

    We are also building a much longer list of topics we can cover based on the needs and desires of the attendees at the retreat. If there’s limited interest in my punchline workshop, for instance, we can drop it in favor of worldbuilding dynamic political conflicts. Or, you know, vice-versa. I can talk about both.

    Long-time and brand-new listeners alike will find that we have plenty to say which we haven’t said before, but we’ll get a syllabus up soon so you can see what we’re planning.

  5. Just a question on format – It states that the first three days of the seminar cover intensive workshops and the last three is dedicated to us putting what we’ve learned into practice.

    My question is if there is any specific structure to the last three days? I only ask because I would probably need to leave early on Sunday in order to avoid using any more of my vacation time, and I wanted to know if I would be missing any specific structured activities.


    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

  7. @Jason Luu The last three days are unstructured with optional activities such as writing sprints, writing prompts, and listening to us record episodes. Or play croquet.

    Because there are two houses on the property, we designate a “no talking” area for people who just want to tuck their heads down and write. But if someone wants to socialize, there are places for that, too.

    In other words, leaving early on Sunday won’t be a problem.

  8. My husband and I want to sign up and come together. Can we buy two registrations in the same transaction? We’re hoping to snag one of the on-site rooms so would it work to buy that plus a basic membership?

  9. Work is going to kill me for taking another week off only a month after Superstars, but fudge-em. This just sounds too good to pass up. I’m hoping to score a room in that beautiful house, but if I can’t, I’ll be fine just huffing it from the hotel everyday to Robin’s Roost. I’m psyched!

  10. This sounds like an amazing opportunity! I was just curious, as I don’t think it was addressed again, but when registering, is it possible to put some money down for a spot, or is it the whole thing up front?

    Thank you so much!

  11. @Martin: It’s all due up-front this time. The system we’re using doesn’t support pay-in-installment options. We’ll definitely look into this for next time.

    @Servius: We did consider that. Event space is expensive, and Woodthrush Woods is simply the finest retreat space available to us at a reasonable rate. We want this to be a retreat, not just another trip to a hotel where everybody stays in conference rooms all day.

    Oh, and I live in Utah. Chatanooga IS “on the road” for me.

  12. Google says Knoxville is the closest airport. Google does not say if there are shuttles/busses etc. from Knoxville to Chattanooga. For those of us flying in to Knoxville, what would be the easiest way to Chattanooga? Would a car rental be required?

  13. Hi Wendy. The Cattanooga airport shows up as an option if you fly American Airlines. The Airport code is CHA.



  14. Chattanooga is a nice little airport. If you find cheaper transportation through Nashville, Groome Transportation shuttles between Nashville and Chatty.

  15. There’s also a shuttle service between Atlanta and Chattanooga. Flying direct to Atlanta and then shuttling in to Chattanooga is often the most cost-effective option. The bus ride is around two and a half hours, IIRC.


  16. Biting my nails here. I want to attend; I’ve just got to be fast enough on the click!

    — david j.

  17. Well that went as I expected.. sold out in under 5 minutes. Each time I selected a registration, it was gone by the time I could hit the button.

    Oh well, here’s hoping the waiting list pans out.

  18. Haha… Kenny’s room was my choice and… I had it! Then promptly lost it as I scrolled down to press submit. Oh well, like I said, I’m happy just huffing it from the hotel. I’m so happy I at least got that. This sold out in seconds. To those of you that made it, I’ll see you in June!

  19. You guys are definitely going to have to do this again. Apparently my mouse clicking skills aren’t as fast as they needed to be.

  20. I made it in!!!!!! I can’t believe it. So excited about this — just kept clicking the reload button every few seconds until registration opened. Though I was in such a hurry there were some typos about food allergies…lol!

  21. Hoo man. Registered, then my credit card got declined by Paypal. Then my bank called me to tell me they suspected “fraudulent activity” and I had to go through all this stuff to approve it over the phone.

    Then my computer froze.

    Luckily, it didn’t completely shut down, and it came out of it’s funk a few minutes later as I pounded my head on the desk.

    Looks like I’m in Robinette’s Roost… by the skin of my teeth. ;)

  22. Awesome. I managed to snag one of the Basic registrations and have already made a reservation at the BW. If you got a spot, I’ll see you in June! You all are invited to my birthday party, considering I turn 30 on June 13.

    Mary, we had a nice long talk at Worldcon this year during the “Stroll With the Stars”. I’m the one who won their writing contest that Mike Resnick did and had my story get published in the souvenir book. After the walk was done, I gave that nice old man my iPhone to try to take a picture of us. It took him quite a few tries because he kept covering the lens with his fingers. Yup, that’s me!

    See you all next summer!

  23. Sean, I would have been freaking out. Especially while on the phone with the fraud department as the timer for registration ticked down. Good on you for keeping your head and getting the slot in Robinette’s Roost. Very lucky indeed.

  24. Thanks for the responses Mary and Howard! I was curious because I dropped some money at NYCC this weekend, and was hoping to at least snag a spot until the next paychecks come in. Ah well, hopefully this becomes a more-than-once kind of thing! Thanks again and have a blast everyone who got in!

  25. I was one of the folks who had a suspicion that this would sell out quickly, and after camping the refresh button was lucky enough to get Dr. Walker’s room. I’m still feeling residual adrenaline an hour later. Today is my birthday and this served as a (tremendous) gift from family, so I’m very excited that it worked out.

    Congratulations to all who got a spot. For those who didn’t, perhaps the waiting list will work in your favor, or of course there’s always the next one!

    I cannot properly express how greatly I am looking forward to this, thanks to WX for putting it together.

  26. I am so psyched to attend this (and with my husband, even better!) I’ve been debating a good way to further my writing education and 6 week workshops like Clarion aren’t a good fit for my life. This, though, is perfect. Glad there was such a high demand, maybe this will become a regular event!

  27. @Nick- oh yeah, I was seriously stressing. Would’ve been shouting at my computer if I wasn’t at work. Heh.

  28. Congrats to all who made it!

    Mary Robinette Kowal: if someone were to cancel in the future, would the Eventbrite website show an open slot, or how would that work?

  29. I keep double checking my confirmation. Still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m going. But that hasn’t stopped me from getting the time off work already. Starting to get curious about who will be there, though it is still such a long way off.

  30. Jesse, the website says:
    “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.”
    So if you still want to try and go make sure you sign up on the waiting list asap!

  31. @Jesse Cunningham — When someone cancels, we release the spot to the first person on the waiting list. They get an email alerting them and have 24 hours to respond. Then we go to the next person.

  32. Very, very excited. Can’t wait until June!

    @Eric Elam. You’re invited to my birthday party as well since I turn 28 on June 13th lol.

  33. I’m going too! I can pick up anyone who might need a ride from Nashville or pick-up at the Chattanooga airport to save on money. Planning on heading down Sunday afternoon/evening. Feel free to send me a message or friend me on the face space. (My name should link to FB profile.)

  34. @Mark – Nice! Should be interesting having two of us with the same birthday. We’ll have to get the group to do something fun after we’re done for the day.

  35. I’m got in too! (I sneaked to the bathroom at work and registered on my phone. Worth it.) So excited for this workshop/retreat/all around awesomeness!

    PS-anyone else flying from Utah?

  36. Brittany: I’m flying in from Utah, although I haven’t quite figured out where I’m flying TO just yet. I kind of like the idea of the shuttle from Atlanta.

    And I’m turning *cough*fifty*cough* on June 11. This is my present to myself. Maybe we can have a collective party!

    So excited.

  37. Comment #100! Boo ya! Like many of you, I was part of the worldwide group who was on the verge of wetting its collective pants yesterday. By grace alone did I not only keep dry pants, but managed to ensure I’ll be roosting it up Robin style on Walter’s king sized bed. A good day by anyone’s estimation.

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