All posts by Dan Wells

WXR 2021: The Writing Excuses Cruise Masterclass

NOTE: Some of these details have CHANGED as of June 9th, thanks to a very cool upgrade Royal Caribbean made to our sailing. The new information is marked in bold italics, and full details are available at the registration link.

Join fellow writers for an in-depth masterclass at sea on board the Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas from September 19th – 27th, 2021.

Click here to register!

Not able to make it to the WXR 2021 cruise experience? We’ll be gathering virtually this fall as well in partnership with the Surrey International Writers Conference – click here for more info!

What’s a Masterclass at sea?

For the past few years, Writing Excuses has held a workshop and retreat each year on a cruise ship – a magical mix of writing classes, workshops, and time for your own writing, all wrapped in a Caribbean vacation.

This year’s Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat will include all of that in a smaller package than our typical cruises – it’s the beginning of a new event structure that we’ll be rolling out in full in 2022: multiple smaller events, each with a deep focus on a particular aspect of the writing craft. This new format has been in the works for a while, and this year, as the US begins its recovery from the pandemic, seems like the perfect opportunity to start. For those who prefer our large-group experiences, don’t worry–we will be having a large cruise in fall 2022. Stay tuned for more!

What can I expect?

Views like this, for a start!

Our cruise will stop at the following ports with opportunities for excursions: Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Roatan in Honduras, and Belize City in Belize. While on the ship, there will be an in-depth masterclass on plot and structure taught by Writing Excuses’ own Dan Wells. He’ll teach a class on each non-port day, with each class building on the previous ones in a curriculum far more detailed and advanced than we’ve ever been able to offer before. Mary Robinette Kowal and DongWon Song will also be on board, hosting breakout sessions, office hours, and other group social events.

How will COVID-19 affect the cruise experience?

Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines are constantly updating their procedures and protocols as they get back on the water, but a few things are certain – we are asking that all students and their guests be fully vaccinated. The current guidance from the CDC for cruise ships is that vaccinated passengers can go without masks in their cabins and in outdoor areas (including outdoor dining) throughout the ship – we expect that vaccinated passengers will be able to do additional activities onboard the ship without a mask by the time of sailing in line with the recently updated CDC guidance. As full protocols become available, we will send them to all registered guests.

Royal Caribbean has been doing a lot of work to help everyone be as safe as possible – you can read more about the safety and health protocols at the Healthy Sail Center here.

How does pricing work?

Prices include the workshops, your cabin and meals, taxes, gratuities – pretty much everything! The tickets listed are for Double Occupancy, which means you’ll have a roommate. If you’ve chosen your own roommate, awesome! There will be a place to indicate this when you register. If you don’t have a roommate, no worries; we’ll coordinate to place you with another writer from our group. You can also pick a private, single-occupancy cabin during the registration process, but note that these cost extra. The only additional cost is if you would like to pay for a transfer to and from the airport to the cruise ship or you would like to come in a night early to a local hotel (which includes a free breakfast and transfer).

Spouses and significant others or family members who would like to come along but are not writers are welcome at a discounted family rate, but they must also be fully vaccinated.

I have a registration question.

The best way to contact us for WXR21 questions is to send an email to writingexcusesevents@gmail.com.

Tell me more about what to expect?

The tagline on the podcast is “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.” The workshop has always allowed us to take more than fifteen minutes and really dig into topics, and now we’re taking it even further. The WXR21 Cruise Masterclass will go into all aspects of plot and structure, from seven-point structure to Hollywood formula, including two sessions where the group will create and then workshop outlines for their current or future projects.

More than that, though, you’ll have the opportunity to hang out with the instructors and each other folks who’ve joined us in the past will tell you that the single biggest benefit to WXR is the lasting connections we make with each other.

But since you asked, there IS more:

Breakout sessions: Participants will also be able to sign up for a limited number of additional breakout sessions or one-on-one sessions with individual instructors. There is no additional charge for these, but because of the size of the event we may not be able to accommodate everyone with their first choice.

These breakout sessions include:

  • 6-member critique groups: Members will submit novel or short-story excerpts up to 3000 words for critique by the group as well as one of the instructors. (Please note that this means you are committing to critique the stories of the other group members.)
  • Unlocking sessions: These small group sessions are places to brainstorm with a group about your writing project or process. Unlocking sessions in the past have included discussion on everything from how to make time to write to the intricacies of a specific magic system.

“Office Hours”: Each morning, instructors are available for individual drop-in sessions to cover those questions that come up mid-cruise. This is excellent for some one-on-one time with the instructors!

Social Time: From dinners together to informal hangouts to game nights to karaoke, there’s plenty of time to build your community on the ship.

That’s a lot of people-ing. I don’t do well in groups. Will I survive this?

It may come as a surprise, but on a cruise of writers, most of our group are also introverts. Some of us are better at presenting as extroverts than others, but we know where you’re coming from and we feel your pain. The masterclass is a smaller group, which may make things easier, but we’ve also structured the cruise to create downtime and make it easy to meet people in smaller, more manageable groups. There are lots of quiet areas all over the ship for those in need of some time and space when it all gets too much. This is why it’s called the Writing Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat. We also have a Discord where we can get to know each other before the cruise – it really helps to have some familiar faces when we all show up.

Will I really have time to write with all this going on?

We provide time, absolutely, but it’s up to you how you use it. In years past, we’ve had some attendees write more than 40,000 words while with us. We celebrate together for words written, and provide optional prompts each day to encourage and inspire. There are also board game nights, dancing, karaoke, and impromptu combat demos to tempt us all. Some of our writers gather in places on the ship or seek out an out-of-the-way nook to write by themselves. Whatever you choose to do with your free time, your time is yours.

What level of writing expertise should I have prior to attending?

“Level of expertise” is far less important than your desire to learn and improve. The schedule and classes are structured to be accessible and useful for writers with a passion for learning. We’ve found that presenting focused content that’s challenging and rewarding is more useful for writers than 101 material, regardless of where they are on their career track. But we also have “office hours,” which are drop-in one-on-one sessions available almost every morning of the cruise for those questions that pop up during the course of the week.

I’m in. Where do I register again?

Right here!

If you still have questions, you can email us at writingexcusesevents@gmail.com.

Come join us on board!

The Writing Excuses Retreat Goes Virtual!

For a number of reasons (most prominently “we don’t want to run you through two airports and then lock you on a cruise ship in the middle of a global pandemic”), we have canceled our cruise and are taking it online! This is really good news for a lot of you, because it is way easier to get to and waaaay cheaper. The details are as follows:

WXR goes virtual (aka WXR – NOT on a boat!)

 
Though we can’t promise round-the-clock snacks, fruity beverages, and frozen yogurt on the pool deck, we ARE going to bring you all the rest of the stuff you love best about WXR in virtual form: writing dates, Q&As, and LOTS of learning. 
 
To do this, we’re partnering up with the Surrey International Writers’ Conference for SiWC at Home, which runs October 23-25, with master classes on the 21st and 22nd and extra WXR pre-conference events in the days leading up to the conference. Many of you are already familiar with SiWC, and know that it’s Mary Robinette’s favorite conference (including ones she organizes). And if you’ve been to WXR before, you know Kathy Chung, the SiWC conference coordinator. Everything going virtual this year gave us an awesome opportunity to join forces. 
 
Here’s what that means to you: WXR will offer pre-conference Writing Excuses social events, writing dates and Q&As before SiWC. At SiWC, some WXR faculty will be offering master classes on the Wednesday and Thursday. Then Friday to Sunday, it’s full-on conference time: multiple workshops a day, social opportunities, keynotes, and social events, including with WXR faculty. 
 
How do you attend? Register for SiWC. Your registration includes the full Friday-Sunday conference plus all the WXR social stuff, writing dates and more, and you can add on master classes when you register. SiWC registration opens this coming Wednesday, June 24, at noon Pacific time. In a typical year, SiWC sells out in hours, so don’t leave it too long to register. www.siwc.ca/registration
 
We’ll have more info on the WXR events as we get them all in place, but most of the SiWC programming is up on their site – www.siwc.ca – with more to come as we get details in the coming days of the master classes and workshops WXR will be adding.
 
What will it cost? SiWC is offering a sliding scale for registration (except master classes) this year to help people whose finances have been affected by Covid to be able to attend. Note that SiWC is not-for-profit, so please pay what you comfortably can. Full-priced registration for the conference, which includes 40+ workshops (10 you can attend in real time, and some that will be recorded and available to attendees for a couple of weeks following the conference), keynotes, and all the WXR and SiWC social events, is $279CDN (currently about $205USD). Master classes are $79CDN for conference attendees (about $58USD) except for one super-sized, 6-hour class with Mary Robinette that’s $119CDN (about $88USD). 

Writing Excuses Scholarship Recipients!

I don’t like to call them winners, because a) you’re ALL winners, and b) they didn’t “win” this, they “earned” this. But (drum roll please) I am delighted to announce that the 2020 Scholarship Recipients have been chosen:

2020 Out of Excuses Scholarships
Isadora Helena Prospero
Salinee Goldenberg

2020 Carl Brandon Scholarships:
Kritika HubkaRao
Lorena Torres Loaiza

Huge congratulations to them! For everyone else: thank you so much for applying! This was a very difficult group to narrow down, because all of the applications were so good. We wish we could bring every one of you on the retreat with us. Keep writing, and keep dreaming big.

Now for the big question: will there actually be a cruise this year? The short answer is that we are proceeding on the assumption that there will be, and we are working hard to make it the best cruise we’ve ever done. BUT: we are also making a Plan B and a Plan C and a thousand other contingency plans, to make sure that we’re covered for whatever happens. We will continue to keep you updated as to the exact form that this retreat will take, but we promise that it will be something.

If you’re thinking about registering for the Writing Excuses Retreat, this is a wonderful time to do it.

Writing Excuses Retreat 2019 Scholarships!

The seventh annual Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat is going to be amazing! We begin in Houston, TX, on September 13; we’ll visit Cozumel, Georgetown, and Falmouth, and end up back in Houston again on September 22. You can find all the other info, including our incredible guest list, here.

This year we are offering four scholarships. One of these is sponsored by the hosts of Writing Excuses, one by our amazing patrons on Patreon, and two by our incredibly awesome alumni. They’ve been on the retreat (sometimes more than once), they love it, and they want to share it with as many people as possible.

As always, our scholarships come in two categories: two Out of Excuses Scholarships, awarded to those in financial need, and two Carl Brandon Society Scholarships, awarded to writers of color. Both categories have introduced us to some incredible writers in the past, and we can’t wait to see who we get to meet this year. Share this post with everyone you know, read the rules carefully, and apply!

Information and Entry Rules
Each scholarship offers full tuition, $500 of travel expenses, a bed in a double occupancy room on the ship, and hotel expenses in Houston for one night both pre- and post-cruise. Because the food on the cruise is free, this covers essentially all your expenses for the week, though depending on the flights you arrange, you might need to cover some of the travel yourself. You may apply to either scholarship, but only to one of them (even if you qualify for both).

These scholarships are very popular, and get a lot of applicants, so please read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly; incomplete applications will be disqualified.

To apply, please prepare the following scholarship package as a Word document, and send it to writingexcusesscholarship@gmail.com with the subject line: “Scholarship Application: [name of scholarship].” Please copy and paste the cover sheet to the main body of the email, and also include it as the first page in the package.

1) This cover sheet, filled out completely:
Name: [name]
Email: [email]
Phone Number: [number]
Scholarship: [“Carl Brandon Society” or “Out of Excuses”]
I confirm that my scholarship is complete, including: a personal essay, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample.
Personal Essay word count (between 450-700 words): [insert word count here]
Letter of Recommendation 1: [Name of recommender]
Letter of Recommendation 2: [Name of recommender]
Letter of Recommendation 3: [Name of recommender]
Writing Sample total word count (1-3 pieces, limited to 10,000 total words): [insert word count here]
2) A single attachment, saved as [Name of Scholarship Your Name]
We will accept the following three file formats.
* .DOC
* .DOCX
* .RTF
Examples:
Out of Excuses Scholarship Jane Doe.doc
Carl Brandon Scholarship Jane Doe.doc

The attachment should contain all of the following, in the following order:
1. The Cover Sheet, again, as described above. Yes, we want it twice.
2. A Personal Essay: A 450-700 word personal essay explaining why you are a good candidate for the scholarship. What makes you unique? What can you bring to our group that no one else can? Keep in mind that even as we focus on “need,” the panel will also be reviewing your writing in terms of “merit.”
3. Letters of Recommendation: Three brief letters of recommendation (no more than 300 words each) from people who are not your relatives: friends, bosses, people from your writing group, anyone who can tell us exactly how awesome you are. Please note that we would like all three letters to be included in the scholarship package, and not to be emailed individually; we’ve had too many letters go astray, and we want to give you the chance to personally make sure every aspect of your scholarship package is complete before submitting it. If you have a concern with this, please contact Dawn at danwellsassistant@gmail.com.
4. Writing Samples: A brief example of your writing, consisting of 1-3 separate pieces and totaling no more than 10,000 words. These can be short stories or novel excerpts. Don’t feel obligated to fill the word count: if you can wow us in less, more power to you.

Again: make sure to send everything in one email or your application will be disqualified!

Please review your application several times, or have a friend or family member review it for you, because we will reject applications on technicalities, just like an editor or publisher would. We would much prefer to read your awesome writing and give you a scholarship.

The application period for both scholarships opens on January 16, 2018, at 9am EST, and closes at midnight EST, March 16. We will contact the winners in April, and announce them officially the morning of April 15. That gives applicants three months to get their packets ready, it gives us one month to review them, and it gives the winners just under five months of notice before the retreat.

If you have any questions regarding the scholarship, email Dawn at danwellsassistant@gmail.com.

FAQ:

Q: What do The Letters of Recommendation need?
A: Think of this like a college entry application letter. Have your recommenders tell us why you are the best candidate for this scholarship. They can point out what they think might be relevant to the decision that the committee would otherwise not know. The letters help us round out the picture for each candidate.

Q: Do you have any specific formatting requirements?
A: Other than what’s listed above, no. You can use whatever type face or point size that you like, as long as it looks professional and is easy to read. No glitter, weird colors, blinking text, etc.

Q: Are the scholarships open to anyone?
A: Provided you meet the basic qualifications, yes. We welcome writers from any country anywhere in the world, though remember that a) the classes will be taught in English, and b) the scholarships only cover $500 of travel, so anything beyond that you will need to cover yourself.

Q: But what if I’m already published?
A: Apply anyway. The only requirements are writing talent, financial need, and—for the Carl Brandon scholarships—being a person of color. The way this industry works, it’s entirely possible to be published and talented and still poor and unsuccessful (spoiler warning). But the things you learn and the contacts you make on our retreat can still help in that situation, and we’re not going to disqualify anyone just because their first break wasn’t a smashing success.

Q: That doesn’t sound fair to the rest of us.
A: Don’t sell yourself short–we believe in you! You’re competing against all of these people in the real world anyway, every time you submit a book or story for publication, and this is no different. Your writing has to be the very best it can be no matter what you’re trying to do with it. But we’re confident that you are up to the challenge, so do your best and knock our socks off.

Q: Ah, but what if I know one of you personally? That’s GOT to disqualify me, right?
A: Not at all, though it does change the way we read and rank the applications. As soon as one of our judges realizes that they know an applicant in real life, they pull themselves off of that application and send it back to us. We strip that application of identifying info and send it out to new judges, completely blind, to get their unbiased opinion. The final decisions are made by people who do not know who the applicants are. We take this seriously, and strive to keep the process as fair and balanced as possible.

Q: Okay, so remind me of the basic qualifications again.
A: The Out of Excuses scholarships are for writers in financial need: if you can’t afford the scholarship on your own, you qualify. The Carl Brandon Society scholarships are for writers of color: if you’re a person of color who writes, you qualify.

Q: What about kids? Can I win the scholarship as a teenager?
A: Teens are welcome on the cruise and in the classes, but will need to be accompanied by an adult (who will have to pay their own way, as the scholarship only covers one person). If you have questions, please contact Dawn at danwellsassistant@gmail.com.

Q: How can I contribute to the scholarship fund?
A: The easiest way is through our Patreon. We have a pledge level specifically designed for scholarship donations.

Q: If I apply to the scholarship and don’t get picked, will there still be time to buy a ticket?
A: We discourage this for two reasons: first of all, no, there might not be time to buy a ticket. Some years (such as 2017) we sell out incredibly quickly, and people who wait often end up out of luck. We always try to get more rooms on the ship, but it’s not always possible. Second of all, if you can afford to just buy a ticket, go ahead and buy a ticket, so we can give the scholarship to someone who can’t. That said, we recognize that there’s a difference between “I can afford this no problem” and “I can afford this but it will be a very painful sacrifice.” If you’re among the latter, you are welcome to try for the scholarship first and buy a ticket later if you don’t get picked; we will not look down on you at all, and we’ll do everything we can to make the retreat worth it.

Q: I sent in my application, but I’m not sure it arrived and/or I got an automated response saying it was too late and/or something else happened and I want to be sure we’re cool. What do I do?
A: Email Dawn at danwellsassistant@gmail.com. She can look through the inbox and tell you for sure whether your application arrived safely.

Q: I have a question not covered in this FAQ.
A: Email Dawn at danwellsassistant@gmail.com. If you post the question online (whether here or on Facebook or on Patreon or wherever), there is no guarantee that we will see and answer it quickly.

Announcing the 2018 Writing Excuses Scholarship Recipients!

I tell you, this job gets harder every year. 2018 had more applicants than 2017, which had more applicants than 2016, and so on–and the quality goes up every year as well. Making these final decisions was incredibly difficult, and it broke our hearts to have to whittle the list down to five. But we managed to do it, and we are delighted to announce our 2018 Writing Excuses Scholarship Recipients (I don’t want to call them winners, because they earned this):

The Carl Brandon Scholarship:
Erin Roberts
Lindsay Wong

The Out of Excuses Scholarship:
Paige Vest
Billy Alan Palmer
Barbara Lund

A hearty round of applause for them, and for all of our applicants. You were all great, and if we could have brought you all to the retreat we would have. Keep writing! And if you see us at a con or an event somewhere, please say hi so we can shake your hand. It would be an honor to meet you.

Applications Are Open for the 2018 Writing Excuses Retreat Scholarship

The sixth annual Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat makes a triumphant return to the Caribbean Sea! We begin in Houston, TX, on September 22; we’ll visit Roatan, Belize City, and Cozumel; and then we’ll end up back in Houston again on September 30. You can find all the other info, including our incredible guest list, here.

We are also delighted to report that we are offering more scholarships in 2018 than ever before: five! One of these is sponsored by the hosts of Writing Excuses, one by our amazing patrons on Patreon, and three (3) by our incredibly awesome alumni. They’ve been on the retreat (sometimes more than once), they love it, and they want to share it with as many people as possible.

As always, our scholarships come in two categories: three Out of Excuses Scholarships, awarded to those in financial need, and two Carl Brandon Society Scholarships, awarded to writers of color. Both categories have introduced us to some incredible writers in the past, and we can’t wait to see who we get to meet this year. Share this post with everyone you know, read the rules carefully, and apply!

Information and Entry Rules
Each scholarship offers full tuition, $500 of travel expenses, a bed in a double occupancy room on the ship, and hotel expenses in Houston for one night both pre- and post-cruise. Because the food on the cruise is free, this covers essentially all your expenses for the week, though depending on the flights you arrange, you might need to cover some of the travel yourself. You may apply to either scholarship, but only to one of them (even if you qualify for both).

These scholarships are very popular, and get a lot of applicants, so please read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly; incomplete applications will be disqualified.

To apply, please prepare the following scholarship package as a Word document, and send it to writingexcusesscholarship@gmail.com with the subject line: “Scholarship Application: [name of scholarship].” Please copy and paste the cover sheet to the main body of the email, and also include it as the first page in the package.

1) This cover sheet, filled out completely:
Name: [name]
Email: [email]
Phone Number: [number]
Scholarship: [“Carl Brandon Society” or “Out of Excuses”]
I confirm that my scholarship is complete, including: a personal essay, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample.
Personal Essay word count (between 450-700 words): [insert word count here]
Letter of Recommendation 1: [Name of recommender]
Letter of Recommendation 2: [Name of recommender]
Letter of Recommendation 3: [Name of recommender]
Writing Sample total word count (1-3 pieces, limited to 10,000 total words): [insert word count here]

2) A single attachment, saved as [Name of Scholarship Your Name]
We will accept the following three file formats.
* .DOC
* .DOCX
* .RTF
Examples:
Out of Excuses Scholarship Jane Doe.doc
Carl Brandon Scholarship Jane Doe.doc
The attachment should contain all of the following, in the following order:
1. The Cover Sheet, again, as described above. Yes, we want it twice.
2. A Personal Essay: A 450-700 word personal essay explaining why you are a good candidate for the scholarship. What makes you unique? What can you bring to our group that no one else can? Keep in mind that even as we focus on “need,” the panel will also be reviewing your writing in terms of “merit.”
3. Letters of Recommendation: Three brief letters of recommendation (no more than 300 words each) from people who are not your relatives: friends, bosses, people from your writing group, anyone who can tell us exactly how awesome you are. Please note that we would like all three letters to be included in the scholarship package, and not to be emailed individually; we’ve had too many letters go astray, and we want to give you the chance to personally make sure every aspect of your scholarship package is complete before submitting it. If you have a concern with this, please contact Dawn at danwellsassistant@gmail.com.
4. Writing Samples: A brief example of your writing, consisting of 1-3 separate pieces and totaling no more than 10,000 words. These can be short stories or novel excerpts. Don’t feel obligated to fill the word count: if you can wow us in less, more power to you.

Again: make sure to send everything in one email or your application will be disqualified!

Please review your application several times, or have a friend or family member review it for you, because we will reject applications on technicalities, just like an editor or publisher would. We would much prefer to read your awesome writing and give you a scholarship.

The application period for both scholarships opens on January 16, 2018, at 9am EST, and closes at midnight EST, March 12. We will contact the winners in April, and announce them officially the morning of April 17. That gives the winners just over five months of notice before the retreat.
If you have any questions regarding the scholarship, email Dawn at danwellsassistant@gmail.com.

FAQ:
Q: What do The Letters of Recommendation need?
A: Think of this like a college entry application letter. Have your recommenders tell us why you are the best candidate for this scholarship. They can point out what they think might be relevant to the decision that the committee would otherwise not know. The letters help us round out the picture for each candidate.

Q: Are the scholarships open to anyone?
A: Provided you meet the basic qualifications, yes. We welcome writers from any country anywhere in the world, though remember that a) the classes will be taught in English, and b) the scholarships only cover $500 of travel, so anything beyond that you need to cover yourself.

Q: But what if I’m already published?
A: Apply anyway. The only requirements are writing talent, financial need, and, for the Carl Brandon scholarships, being a person of color. The way this industry works, it’s entirely possible to be published and talented and still poor and unsuccessful (spoiler warning). But the things you learn and the contacts you make on our retreat can still help in that situation, and we’re not going to disqualify anyone just because their first break wasn’t a smashing success.

Q: That doesn’t sound fair to the rest of us.
A: Don’t sell yourself short–we believe in you! You’re competing against all of these people in the real world anyway, every time you submit a book or story for publication, and this is no different. Your writing has to be the very best it can be no matter what you’re trying to do with it. But we’re confident that you are up to the challenge, so do your best and knock our socks off.

Q: Ah, but what if I know one of you personally? That’s GOT to disqualify me, right?
A: Not at all, though it does change the way we read and rank the applications. As soon as one of our panelists realizes that they know an applicant in real life, they pull themselves off of that application and send it back to us. We strip that application of identifying info and send it out to new panelists, completely blind, to get their unbiased judgment. The final decisions are made by people who do not know who the applicants are. We take this seriously, and strive to keep the process as fair and balanced as possible.

Q: Okay, so remind me of the basic qualifications again.
A: The Out of Excuses scholarships are for writers in financial need: if you can’t afford the scholarship on your own, you qualify. The Carl Brandon Society scholarships are for writers of color: if you’re a person of color who writes, you qualify.

Q: What about kids? Can I win the scholarship as a teenager?
A: Teens are welcome on the cruise and in the classes, but will need to be accompanied by an adult (who will have to pay their own way, as the scholarship only covers you). If you have questions, please contact Dawn at danwellsassistant@gmail.com.

Q: How can I contribute to next year’s scholarship fund?
A: The easiest way is through our Patreon. We have a pledge level specifically designed for scholarship donations.

Q: If I apply to the scholarship and don’t get picked, will there still be time to buy a ticket?
A: We discourage this for two reasons: first of all, no, there might not be time to buy a ticket. Some years (such as 2017) we sell out incredibly quickly, and people who wait often end up out of luck. We always try to get more rooms on the ship, but it’s not always possible. Second of all, if you can afford to just buy a ticket, go ahead and just buy the ticket, so we can give the scholarship to someone who can’t. That said, we recognize that there’s a difference between “I can afford this no problem” and “I can afford this but it will be a very painful sacrifice.” If you’re among the latter, you are welcome to try for the scholarship first and buy a ticket later if you don’t get picked; we will not look down on you at all, and we’ll do everything we can to make the retreat worth it.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Writing Excuses scholarships!

Let me tell you something right up front: our listeners are amazing.

This year we had more scholarship applications than ever before, and the quality was through the roof. Choosing just four applicants out of this unbelievably talented batch was incredibly hard, and incredibly painful. We had fiction submissions this year that are publisher-ready, right now, and still didn’t make the cut–that’s how stiff the competition was. But, in the end, we did manage to narrow it down to four winners, and I am delighted to announce them here:

For the Carl Brandon Society scholarships:
JY Yang
Yasmine Fahmy

For the Out of Excuses scholarships:
Alexander Murie
Shallee McArthur

They have been contacted, and will be joining us on the 2017 Writing Excuses Retreat this summer. If you applied and didn’t get chosen, don’t worry: you’re awesome, and we love you. I’ll be sending emails out today and tomorrow to all of you to thank you personally for applying, and to let you know how much we appreciate you. Please apply again next year, assuming you’re not already published and famous by then–seriously, some of you are that good. And if you didn’t apply but wish you had: awesome! We’ll do this again next year, and we would love to have all of you with us.

And, again, I want to thank the rest of you: our alumni and our listeners and our Patreon supporters. It’s because of you that we’re able to do this, and it’s because of you that these four incredible writers can have this experience. We have a level on our Patreon that literally just says “You don’t get anything extra at this level, we just take your money and use it for scholarships,” and SO MANY of you do it! You’re wonderful! We’re getting so many scholarship donations, in fact, that we suspect we’ll be able to offer an extra scholarship or two next year; no promises, but we’re crunching the numbers and we think it will work. If you love good writing and want to give back to the community, supporting these scholarships is a great way to do it.

Congratulations again to our winners, and to all of you we say: you’re out of excuses, now go write.

The 2017 WX Retreat Scholarships

The fifth annual Out of Excuses Retreat will be in Europe! And we couldn’t be more excited. Some people were worried about our ability to provide scholarships this year, because flying people to Europe is so much more expensive than flying them to Florida, but we have learned to never underestimate the power of our amazing listeners. Our alumni from previous retreats have donated enough to finance two scholarships, even at the elevated price, and the rest of you have contributed enough through our Patreon to finance two more. So yes: just like last year, we are now able to offer four scholarships to this year’s retreat: two Out of Excuses scholarships for writers who can’t afford the cruise on their own, and two Carl Brandon Society scholarships for writers of color.

Information and Entry Rules

Each scholarship offers full tuition, $1000 of travel expenses, a bed in a double occupancy room on the ship, and hotel expenses in Germany for one night both pre- and post-cruise. Because the food on the cruise is free, this covers essentially all your expenses for the week, though depending on the flights you arrange, you might need to cover some of the travel yourself. You may apply to either scholarship, but only to one of them (even if you qualify for both).

These scholarships are very popular, and get a lot of applicants, so please read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly; incomplete applications will be disqualified.

To apply, please prepare the following scholarship package as a Word document, and send it to writingexcusesscholarship@gmail.com with the subject line: “Scholarship Application: [name of scholarship].” Please copy and paste the cover sheet to the main body of the email, and also include it as the first page in the package.

1) This cover sheet, filled out completely:

Name: [name]

Email: [email]

Phone Number: [number]

Scholarship: [“Carl Brandon Society” or “Out of Excuses”]

I confirm that my scholarship is complete, including: a personal essay, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample.

Personal Essay word count (between 450-700 words): [insert word count here]

Letter of Recommendation 1: [Name of recommender]

Letter of Recommendation 2: [Name of recommender]

Letter of Recommendation 3: [Name of recommender]

Writing Sample total word count (1-3 pieces, limited to 10,000 total words): [insert word count here]

2) A single attachment, saved as [Name of Scholarship Your Name]

We will accept the following three file formats.

* .DOC

* .DOCX

* .RTF

Examples:

Out of Excuses Scholarship Jane Doe.doc

Carl Brandon Scholarship Jane Doe.doc

The attachment should contain all of the following, in the following order:

1. The Cover Sheet, again, as described above. Yes, we want it twice.

2. A Personal Essay: A 450-700 word personal essay explaining why you are a good candidate for the scholarship. What makes you unique? What can you bring to our group that no one else can? Keep in mind that even as we focus on “need,” the panel will also be reviewing your writing in terms of “merit.”

3. Letters of Recommendation: Three brief letters of recommendation (no more than 300 words each) from people who are not your relatives: friends, bosses, people from your writing group, anyone who can tell us exactly how awesome you are. Please note that we would like all three letters to be included in the scholarship package, and not to be emailed individually; we’ve had too many letters go astray, and we want to give you the chance to personally make sure every aspect of your scholarship package is complete before submitting it. If you have a concern with this, please contact Kenna Blaylock at assistant@thedanwells.com.

4. Writing Samples: A brief example of your writing, consisting of 1-3 separate pieces and totaling no more than 10,000 words. These can be short stories or novel excerpts. Don’t feel obligated to fill the word count: if you can wow us in less, more power to you.

Again: make sure to send everything in one email or your application will be disqualified!

Please review it several times, or have a friend or family member review it for you, because we will reject applications on technicalities, just like an editor or publisher would. We would much prefer to read your awesome writing and give you a scholarship.

The application period for both scholarships opens on January 16, 2017, at 9am EST, and closes at midnight EST, March 12. We will contact the winners in April, and announce them officially the morning of April 17. That gives the winners just over three months of notice before the retreat.

If you have any questions regarding the scholarship, email Kenna Blaylock at writingxcuses@gmail.com.

FAQ:

Q: What do The Letters of Recommendation need?
A: Think of this like a college entry application letter. Have your friend answer “Why are you the best candidate for the scholarship?” The one writing the letter can point out what they think might be relevant to the decision that the committee would otherwise not know. The letters help us round out the picture for each candidate.

Q: Are the scholarships open to anyone?
A: Provided you meet the basic qualifications, yes. We welcome writers from any country anywhere in the world, though remember that a) the classes will be taught in English, and b) the scholarships only cover $1000 of travel.

Q: Okay, so remind me of the basic qualifications again.
A: The Out of Excuses scholarships are for writers in financial need: if you can’t afford the scholarship on your own, you qualify. The Carl Brandon Society scholarships are for writers of color: if you’re a person of color who writes, you qualify.

Q: What about kids? Can I win the scholarship as a teenager?
A: Teens are welcome on the cruise and in the classes, but will need to be accompanied by an adult. If you have questions, please contact Kenna Blaylock at writingxcuses@gmail.com

Q: How can I contribute to next year’s scholarship fund?
A: The easiest way is through our Patreon. We have a pledge level specifically designed for scholarship donations.