We were thrilled to have Peter Beagle join us for an episode, recorded live at Westercon 67. We talked about the writer’s mindset, and how to get into it. Peter schooled Brandon before the episode even began, and then proceeded to school all the rest of us.
Peter is an absolute delight to listen to. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did.
Live from Westercon 67 and Fantasy Con, Mette Ivie Harrison and J.R. Johannson join us to talk about writing for the mystery genre. We begin by talking about the key differences between thrillers and mysteries, and then move into how this understanding can drive our story structures. We discuss how characters with arcs and iconic characters drive different types of stories, and how each of us go about building these kinds of things.
How does a convention play into your career as an author? How might you expect to be participating in programming? How, in short, do you get to be on panels?
Deirdre Saoirse Moen, who organizes fan-run literary cons and schedules programs for them, joins us to talk about programming from the convention’s point of view. Conventions want to create engaging programs, and want authors to be able to participate in that. Authors, of course, want to do things that ultimately result in selling more books. These goals are not incompatible, but there’s a trick to getting them to mesh well.
We also talk about what you should do when you find yourself on a panel — things to expect, things you can do to prepare, and some things to take care to not do.
For the last two years the event has had a very limited size, and as a result has sold out very quickly. For 2015 we have moved to a new venue, removed the attendance limit, and increased the amount of instructor interaction—all without raising the price.
The 2015 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat will be held from September 20th through the 27th on the Independence of the Seas.
It’s a cruise ship.
[UPDATE: We have sold through our original block of rooms. The cruise has provided us with additional rooms, but the rate is higher for these. The updated rates are now reflected on the registration page, and in the numbers provided below]
The base price of $1300 covers the full week of intensive seminars, writing exercises, and free writing time, plus meals, double-occupancy lodging, and a cruise to four different Caribbean destinations. Attendees will also be invited to submit questions for some of the episodes of Writing Excuses which will be recorded while we’re at sea.
At sea. Seriously.
Each seminar will include writing exercises and Q&A time with the instructor. Topics will include:
… and much more.
ADDITIONAL BREAKOUT SESSIONS
There will be a limited number of additional breakout sessions and one-on-one sessions with individual instructors. There is no additional charge for these, but because of the size of the event they will be distributed by lottery. The first 100 attendees registering prior to January 15th, 2015, will be entered in the lottery.
These breakout sessions include:
6-member novel critique groups: Members will submit excerpts up to 5000 words for critique by the group as well as one of the podcasters. (Please note that this means you are committing to critique the stories of the other group members.)
6-member short story critique groups: Members will submit short stories up to 5000 words for critique by the group as well as one of the podcasters. (Please note that this means you are committing to critique the stories of the other group members.)
6-member outlining sessions: Each person must come prepared with a story idea, including an ending. The host will help each attendee turn that into a working outline, ready for them to begin writing.
One-on-one Q&As: This is a 15-minute one-on-one session with one of the hosts, and you decide how that time will be spent. We can critique the first five pages of a manuscript, drill down on a worldbuilding conundrum, answer specific questions, or offer general advice.
To give you an even bigger bang for your buck, we are inviting other authors and industry professionals to help teach classes and breakouts throughout the week. The number of additional hosts depends on the number of attendees.
Nalo Hopkinson is a professional writing teacher, and one of our favorite panelists to listen to at conventions—she’s personable, funny, and brilliant. She’s been nominated for the Philip K. Dick award, the Nebula award, and Aurora award, all multiple times; her short story collection “Skin Folk” won the World Fantasy award, and her novel The New Moon’s Arms won the Sunburst award. She’s a Jamaican-Canadian whose tap roots extend to Trinidad and Guyana. She is a professor of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside. She has taught numerous times at both Clarion and Clarion West. Her short story collection Falling in Love With Hominids will appear from Tachyon Books in 2015. In short, she’s very good at what she does, and very good at teaching others how to do it. She’ll be an excellent addition to the workshop, and we’re excited to have her.
Delia Sherman was born in Tokyo, Japan, and brought up in New York City. Delia’s short fiction for adults has appeared most recently in the anthologies Naked City and Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells. Stories for teen readers have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Steampunk! and Under My Hat. “CATNYP,” a story of a magical New York Between, inspired her middle grade novels Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen. The Freedom Maze, a time-travel fantasy set in Louisiana, was awarded the Norton Award, the Prometheus Award, and the Mythopoeic Award. Her recent collection of short fiction, Young Woman in a Garden, has appeared on PW’s list of Best SF of 2014. She has worked as a contributing editor for Tor Books and has co-edited the fantasy anthology The Horns of Elfland with Ellen Kushner and Donald G. Keller and The Essential Bordertown with Terri Windling, as well as two anthologies of Interstitial fiction, Interfictions 1, with Theodora Goss and Interfictions 2, with Christopher Barzak. She is Executive Editor of Interfictions Online: A Journal of Interstitial Arts. She has taught writing at Clarion, Odyssey, and in the MA program in Children’s Literature at Hollins University.
Ellen Kushner is the author of Thomas the Rhymer (World Fantasy and Mythopoeic awards), the interconnected novels Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword (Locus Award, Nebula nominee), and The Fall of the Kings (written with Delia Sherman). She narrated these as audiobooks for Neil Gaiman Presents (Audie Award). With Holly Black, she co-edited Welcome to Bordertown. A co-founder of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, Ellen Kushner was also the longtime host of the national public radio show Sound & Spirit. She has taught creative writing at Clarion, the Odyssey Workshop, and is an instructor at Hollins University’s Children’s Literature M.F.A. program. She lives in New York City with Delia Sherman and no cats whatsoever.
20th Sept: Depart Ft. Lauderdale 4:00pm
21st Sept: At Sea
22nd Sept: Labedee, Haiti 8:00am to 5:00pm
23rd Sept: Falmouth,Jamaica 10:30am to 7:00pm
24th Sept: Georgetown, Grand Cayman 8:00am to 4:00pm
25th Sept: Cozumel, Mexico 10:00am to 7:00pm
26th Sept: At Sea
27th Sept: Arrive Ft. Lauderdale 7:00am
All Out of Excuses seminar attendees must be 18 years of age or older. Children from the ages of 12 to 17 may attend if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Children aged 11 and under are welcome aboard ship, but cannot attend the Out of Excuses seminars. Child care and age-appropriate curriculum is available through Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean® youth program.
All attendees, attendee guests, and accompanied minors must have a valid passport. Getting onto the ship? You need a passport!
There are plenty of things to do on the cruise ship besides attend the Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat. If you’d like to bring a significant other or family member, it’s just $900 for a non-workshop stateroom berth, or $1,000 for a non-workshop balcony cabin. And if the family member is between the ages of 12 and 17, and has an interest in writing, they can pay that reduced price and still attend the seminars with you.
If you want to bring more than three family members, we’ll put you in touch with Lisa Harding, our cruise manager, who can help you with pricing and any other arrangements.
If you need to cancel your registration for any reason, your registration fee will be refunded based on the date of your cancellation:
Full refund until June 1st
75% refund until July 1st
50% refund until August 1st
25% refund until September 1st
No refunds after September 1st
Q: What does “double-occupancy” mean?
A: It means that the price is for half of a room. You’ll have a roommate. This can be a friend that you arrange to room with ahead of time, it can be a family member, or it can be another Out of Excuses attendee.
Q: Can I get a private room?
A: Yes, but it will cost more. When you register, at the bottom of the form select “Single Occupancy” from the “additional items.”
Private room prices:
Standard Interior Stateroom: $1300 + $600 = $1900
Promenade Stateroom: $1400 + $650 = $2050
Oceanview Stateroom: $1500 + $800 = $2300
Oceanview with Balcony: $1750 + $900 = $2650
Q: What level of writing expertise should I have attained prior to attending? A: “Level of expertise” is far less important than your desire to improve. The workshop is structured to be accessible and useful for new writers with a passion for learning, and to be challenging and rewarding for seasoned professionals looking for refinement, or additional perspectives. Different classes will be designed for different levels of experience.
Q. Will you have a scholarship again this year?
A. Yes! We will be partnering with the Carl Brandon Society again this year.
Q: How big is the ship?
A: The Independence of the Seas holds 3000 guests, of which we’ll be a small percentage. The Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat has its own dedicated spaces, ours alone 24 hours a day, for classes, writing time, impromptu discussions, or other activities (like, say, a Magic draft with Brandon). We’ll also have our own area of the dining room, and the podcasters will rotate tables each night to sit with different guests. While the ship is large, it will be similar to being at a convention in a very nice hotel. You’ll know your tribe, you’ll know where to find them, and you’ll have places to hide from all the scary non-writer people.
Q: How big is the event? A: As of this writing (October 24, 2014), we have just over 100 attendees, including family members. As mentioned above, the podcasters and our guest hosts will be rotating tables at dinner, and participating in other activities in order to make ourselves accessible to each and every one of the attendees.
Hugo Award-winner Christopher J. Garcia, publisher and editor of The Drink Tank, joins us for a discussion of fan writing, . We start with a definition of terms – fan writing technically covers everything from writing about fandom, to writing fiction that doesn’t appear any different from professional fiction. It’s tricky, because the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer has gone to professional writers for their unpaid, non-fiction work.
We talk about fanzines, where they came from, what they’re for, and how (and why) aspiring professional writers might submit to them, and about the power that fan writing has on both fan culture and on the development of the genre.
Paul Stevens, an editor at Tor, joined us in front of a live audience at Westercon 67 to talk about royalties. After a brief definition of the term, he explains how royalties are calculated, how they’re processed on Tor’s side, and what sorts of things authors should and should not expect. We talk about contractual terms, advances, the differences in royalty rates between the different mediums (ebooks, audiobooks, paperback, hard cover), and much more.
We’ve had a lot of requests for an in-depth discussion of royalties. This, folks, is very definitely it.
Patty Garcia, Director of Publicity for Tor & Forge books, joins us in front of a live audience at Westercon 67 to talk about what publicity activities look like for commercially published genre fiction books. In large measure, these activities center around driving discussion about the books with the most-followed reviewers, and we talk about what some of those are. We grill her about what sort of criteria we should be using for review copies, and what other activities new authors and established authors alike might consider spending time on.