Category Archives: Announcements & News

BONUS EPISODE! 2021 WXR Early-Bird Announcement

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dongwon, and Dan

What’s this bonus episode thing?

Well, for starters IT’S URGENT, because as of this writing you have just ten more days to get the promised pricing for WXR at sea in 2021.

What ELSE is it? Well, this bonus episode describes the difference between workshops, retreats, and master classes. If you’ve attended WXR in the past, this episode will highlight what’s different this time around.



Research different opportunities for master classes and workshops.

The Sin in the Steel, by Ryan Van Loan

WX RSS: A Quick Tech-Team Update

Howard here.

Lemme lead with this: we’re aware of the problem, and the person who is most likely to be able to fix it has been alerted.

The problem? At some point in the recent past the Writing Excuses RSS feed stopped working with several podcast aggregation services. I could speculate wildly as to the cause, but I shan’t. My lane is clearly defined, and I’ll be staying within it.

Yes, yes, I know. I am listed as the technical contact for the RSS feed. Ten years ago that seemed like a good idea. Perhaps in light of the current crufterchuck we will update some of that information, but the pressing issue is getting the RSS feed fixed.

Thank you for sticking with us. We’re still putting up new episodes each week. In fact, just yesterday we recorded an eight-episode mini-master-class on interactive fiction with James L. Sutter and Cassandra Khaw. It’s great stuff, and we look forward to the day when you’ll get to listen to it.

Hopefully you can listen via your favorite podcast aggregation service. We’re still working on that part.

Announcing: Writing Excuses Workshop & Retreat 2020!

Join fellow writers for a cruise in the Caribbean, September 25 – October 04, 2020!

Registration for WXR20 is now open!

What is this thing?

The Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat is a magical mix of writing classes, workshops, and time for your own writing, all wrapped in a Caribbean vacation. Most importantly, you join a community of like-minded writers who are excited to talk about craft. Plus, you get writing views like this.

Our adventure begins on land…

We gather on land for two days in Galveston, TX for key orientation and registration activities as well as initial classes and writing sit-ins. You’ll have the chance to meet staff, instructors, and each other prior to boarding the cruise ship together for a week in the Caribbean.

We embark together for the journey at sea

In addition to beautiful days at sea, our cruise will stop at the following ports with opportunities for excursions: Cozumel in Mexico, Georgetown in Grand Cayman, and Falmouth in Jamaica.

There will be advanced classes each day, taught by our amazing guest instructors, as well as a live recording of the Hugo-award winning Writing Excuses podcast with the hosts of the show. During the recording, you get an opportunity to be a part of the show and ask your questions. Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells will be joined by Mahtab Narisiman, Margaret Dunlap, Nilah Magruder, Erin Roberts, with special guests Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz.

You mentioned excursions?

Yes! We work to organize a few “official” Writing Excuses shore excursions in each port and give you the opportunity to register for them in advance of our sail date. Going on one of these Writing Excuses excursions means you’ll be with other Writing Excuses writers, family, and possibly instructors. They are completely optional and you are welcome to purchase excursions through Royal Caribbean if one of those is more interesting for you. Just know that other excursions will be open to other passengers on our cruise ship.

How does pricing work?

Prices include the workshops, your hotel on land, your cabin at sea, meals at sea, taxes, gratuites… Basically, this works out to about $255 per day for all the things.

The tickets are listed for Double Occupancy, which means you’ll have a roommate at land and at sea. If you choose 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. Or you can choose to upgrade to a private cabin during the registration process.

Spouses and significant others or family members who would like to come along but are not writers are welcome with a discounted rate. Children get an even greater discounted rate. Imaginary friends get to come along FREE.

Each year, we have a number of scholarships available. The application process will be announced in January here on Writing

I have a registration question.

The best way to contact us for WXR20 questions is to send an email to

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 allows us to take more than fifteen minutes and really dig into topics. In addition to the core Writing Excuses cast, each year we bring guest instructors who really are that smart. We choosing instructors who bring different perspectives and a font of knowledge to share in classes and breakout sessions. Most importantly, we select for instructors who are warm and generous as people.

To be honest, folks who’ve joined us in the past are eager to gather again for the single biggest benefit of WXR: 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 novel critique groups: Members will submit excerpts up to 3000 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 3000 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.)

One-on-one Q&As: This is a 25-minute one-on-one session with one of the instructor, and you decide how that time will be spent. We can critique the first five pages of a manuscript, practice making a pitch, drill down on a worldbuilding conundrum, answer specific questions, or offer general advice.

“Office Hours”: Each morning, instructors are available for individual drop-in sessions to cover those questions that come up mid-cruise.

  • Family Classes: There are classes specifically for family members to gain insight the writer in their family and more. Plus, family members are invited to choose 3 writing classes to attend with the writers in their family. We’ve found that this is a great way to build a common language for writers and family members, which can be incredibly helpful.
  • Two nights on land: Two nights (and the associated days) on land, at the hotel in Texas, allows us to gather everyone for important orientation activities as well as initial classes and write-ins. There will be the option to tour NASA with Mary Robinette, begin the quest for pirate coins with Dan Wells, and other secret surprises we’ve got in the works. Mwa hahahaha!
  • Costume (Cosplay) Themed events: There are multiple opportunities for “cosplay” through the course of the cruise. We generally choose one of the formal nights on the cruise and have a private cocktail hour before dinner with a costume contest and awards given by the instructors, then we walk together through the Promenade to dinner and enjoy dinner in our costumes. Last year, we introduced a cosplay karaoke night and it was one of the highlights of the cruise – Mary Robinette singing “Rubber Ducky” as a torch singer is absolutely must-see. Costumes are completely optional and you can still come to these events if you prefer to just appreciate what others have put together.

The theme for 2020 is: Hindsight

  • There’s going to be more: We’ve got new stuff in the works and there’ll be announcements in the near future.

That’s a lot of people-ing. I don’t do well in big groups of people. 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. We’ve also structured the cruise to create downtime and make it easy to meet people in smaller, more manageable groups.There’s 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 attendees write more than 40,000 words while with us. We celebrate together for words written and provide prompts each day for those interested to encourage and inspire. There’s 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?

Now that you’ve had the overview, full details are available on the registration page, or you can email us at

Come join us on board!

RSS, iTunes, and other Subscription Issues

UPDATE: As of June 12th, at 21:45 EDT, the feed is working again for current episodes. The main feed only reaches back about a year, but it should keep updating your various podcast directories just fine.


We’re aware that for the last three weeks or so, something hasn’t been working correctly with our RSS feed. We’re looking into it. We’ve tried the usual suite of togglings-off-and-on, and we’ve examined our settings in an attempt to identify a misconfiguration somewhere. So far nothing has seemed to make a difference, but we’re not giving up.

If you want to report problems, explain workarounds, or otherwise weigh in on the issue, this post’s comment thread is here for you.

Writing Excuses Conference and Retreat 2019 – Mystery Guest Announcement!

Hello Writing Excuses Folks!

The Writing Excuses Conference and Retreat 2019 is September 13 – September 22, which is FOUR MONTHS AWAY! We’d love for you to join us, and to sweeten the pot, AN ANNOUNCEMENT.


We’re delighted to announce that Cory Doctorow is our Mystery Instructor this year!

Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing ( and the author of RADICALIZED and WALKAWAY, science fiction for adults, a YA graphic novel called IN REAL LIFE, the nonfiction business book INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE, and young adult novels like HOMELAND, PIRATE CINEMA and LITTLE BROTHER and novels for adults like RAPTURE OF THE NERDS and MAKERS. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University, a Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.

We look forward to having him join us on our floating writing conference!


There’s still time to register and we have been able to add more cabins! You know how excellent this conference is, so it’s no surprise to you that they have been going fast this year. Come join us again, and tell your friends, writers, family members, anyone who might enjoy a writing conference and retreat on a cruise ship (so, most people?). We have some exciting new things, like Costume Karaoke (optional!), punch cards for family members to attend some classes, and some surprises and would love to see you there!

Register here!

September will be here soon and cabins are running out quickly. Come learn from Mary Robinette, Dan, Howard, Brandon (on land) and many other excellent guests all on a CRUISE SHIP on the Caribbean!

Have any questions? Email us at

2019 Scholarship Winners

We are delighted to report that the 2019 scholarship winners have been selected!

This is a long process that we take great care with; the applicants send us a huge submission packet, complete with writing samples, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay, and each one of those is reviewed in detail by two different juries. If anyone on the jury comes across a name they know in real life, we randomize it and anonymize it and send it off to someone else to be reviewed by them instead, to keep things as fair and above-board as we possibly can.

All of the applicants were wonderful, and we loved a lot of the samples they sent us, but after a careful review and some painful decisions we’ve selected four worthy recipients:

The 2019 Out of Excuses Scholarships:

Caitlin Jacobs
Petronella Wagner

The 2019 Carl Brandon Scholarships:

Nandi Taylor
Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Huge congratulations to them, and a massive thank you to all of the other applicants. You are all amazing, and we wish you the absolute best of luck in your writing careers.

2018 Awards Eligibility; or, The Cool Stuff We Did Last Year

It’s 2019! We didn’t want you to miss out on any of the amazing things we did last year, so we collected it all into one post.

Of course, we did Writing Excuses Season 13, our Year of Character,  which we are all quite proud of. That would be eligible for Best Related Work, if you were interested.

Mary Robinette Kowal 

Two Novels:

Six Short Stories:

Read more about what she was up to last year here!

Brandon Sanderson

YA Novel:

  • Skyward – Delacorte Press, November 2018



Graphic Novel:

Here is the State of the Sanderson!

Howard Tayler


Check in on Howard here!

Dan Wells

YA Novel:

Middle Grade Novel:

  • Zero G –, December 2018

Here is Dan’s website and Twitter for more of what he’s been up to!

We also want to highlight our fantastic guests:

Maurice Broaddus


Short Stories

Find out more about Maurice here!

Aliette de Bodard



Aliette has more here about what’s on her ballot this year.

Amal El-Mohtar

Short Fiction:

Fan Writer:

Best place to keep up with Amal is her Drip.

Valynne E. Maetani

You can catch up with Valynne here!


Writing Excuses Conference and Retreat 2019

2019 will be our seventh Writing Excuses Retreat:

Join us for a cruise in the Caribbean, September 13-22, 2019!

Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ship

Registration is now open with early bird pricing! Prices go up Jan 31st, so book soon!

The full details are available on the registration page, but here’s a quick overview:

What is this thing?

If you’ve never done one of our cruises before, they’re a kind of magical mix of class time, writing time, and screwing-around-in-a-cool-place time. We don’t know how it works, but it does, and you’ll love it. We did the math, and doing this on a cruise ship is really the least expensive way for us to give you a full week workshop. Plus, you get writing views like this.

A margarita in a restaurant, looking out at the ocean
This is from the writing date in Cozumel. We are definitely going back here.

We will board in Galveston, TX, and spend a week at sea, stopping for excursions in Cozumel, Georgetown, and Falmouth. The event actually begins two days before we board, in a Houston hotel, where we’ll register and get to know each other, and have a few classes.

We’ll have one or two classes a day, taught by our amazing guest instructors, as well as live Writing Excuses episodes with the hosts of the show. Brandon Sanderson will teach a class in Houston, and we’ll be joined by Piper Drake, Kathy Chung, K Tempest Bradford, DongWon Song, and more to be announced later. And of course, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard.

You said excursions?

For each stop, we’ll pick three “official” Writing Excuses shore excursions and announce them this Spring. You can sign up with us for one of those and know that you’ll be with our same group of awesome writers and instructors. If you want to do an excursion that’s not one of our official picks, you can arrange it directly with the cruise.

How does the pricing work?

Prices are Double Occupancy, which means you’ll share your room with another person. If you bring your own roommate, awesome! If not, we’ll put you with another writer from our group. Spouses and significant others who want to come with you but are not writers will get a discounted rate. Children get a hugely discounted rate. Imaginary friends are FREE.

As before, we will have a number of scholarships available. The application process will be announced in January.

I have a registration question. Should I leave a comment here?

The best way to contact us for WXR 2019 purposes is to use the “Contact Writing Excuses” link at the bottom of the Registration page. Scroll all the way down to “Contact the Organizer”. We’d have linked it directly here, but it’s an embedded thingy. You can also email questions to

I’ve already been on your cruise thingie. Why should I come again?

First off, I’m suspicious of your claim. Folks who HAVE been before are eager to come back, in large part because the single biggest benefit of WXR are the connections you make with the other attendees. But since you asked:

    • Family Punch Card: Anyone with a family ticket will get a punch card that will allow them to attend 3 classes with their writers. These classes are normally for writers only, but we’ve found that having a common language can help both writers and family members, and this is a good way to build that language.
    • Two nights at the hotel: We have added an extra day on the front end, which lets us do stuff like have a class with Brandon at the hotel, have the option to tour NASA with Mary Robinette, and other secret awesome stuff that I can’t tell you about yet, cause all the details aren’t worked out. Mwah ha ha!
    • Costume Karaoke: The theme for the costume party this year is Costume Karaoke. As always, this is a very loose theme. Maybe your costume is from a musical! Maybe it’s Karaoke related! Maybe it just comes with an excellent theme song! Whatever the case, we have the Karaoke bar on board reserved for our use after dinner on Costume night, and we’ll be curating a list of the kinds of songs YOU want to sing. In costume. (Neither signing or dressing up is required, but if that’s your jam, bring it on!)
    • Other Exciting Announcements to come: We’ve got some new stuff in the works, and it’s going to be quite excellent. We’ll announce as soon as we can.

I’m an introvert who doesn’t do well in big groups of people. Will I survive an event like this?

One Of Us! One Of Us! Honestly, most of our attendees are introverts too, including all of the hosts and most of the guest instructors. Some of us are better at faking it than others, but we know where you’re coming from, and we feel your pain. We’ll make sure to have lots of quiet little hidey-holes all over the ship where you can go when it all gets too much. It’s not called a “retreat” for nothing.

You keep saying it, but will I really have time to actually write while on this cruise?

You will definitely have time, but it’s up to you how to use it. We give prizes every year for the Most Words Written, and last year the winner had more than 40,000. We also have a proud history of board game nights, dancing, karaoke, and impromptu martial arts demonstrations. Whatever you want to do with your free time, you can probably do it at this event.

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

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.

Come join us!