Category Archives: Announcements & News

2022 Scholarship Winners

Winners of the 2022 Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat scholarships have been selected!

The application process was conducted in a compressed timeline this year, in which applicants prepared and sent us their submissions digitally, including writing samples, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay. Applications were carefully reviewed in a two-phase assessment with care taken to ensure reviews are conducted without potential conflicts of interest.

All of the applications were great and we appreciate the time and effort that went into them! After careful consideration, we have our scholarship winners:

The 2022 Out of Excuses Scholarship to Capitol Reef:

Peter Miksa Pribus

The 2022 Carl Brandon Scholarship to Capitol Reef:

Kyla Grant

The 2022 Out of Excuses Scholarships on Caribbean Cruise:

Kira Neu

John Mabey

The 2022 Carl Brandon Scholarship on Caribbean Cruise:

Sophia Babai

Alexander G. Grigg

Huge congratulations to our scholarship attendees and a massive thank you to all of the applicants. You are amazing and we wish you all the absolute best of luck in your writing endeavors.

WXR 2022 Scholarships!

UPDATE: The application deadline was April 17, 2022. Applications for scholarships for the 2022 Writing Excuses Workshops and Retreats are now closed.

We do offer scholarships every year!

The Writing Excuses Retreat is back! And this year we have TWO of them:

  • June 27-July 2, in Capitol Reef National Park, focused on fiction related to space: astronomy, space travel, space exploration, and more. This site has a Gold Star rating from the International Dark Sky Association, so the stargazing is incredible. The instructors will be Dan Wells and Mary Robinette Kowal joined by Astronaut Cady Coleman. Attendance is capped at 30 students. Click here to find all the details and registration information for Capitol Reef.
  • September 11-18, on the cruise ship Liberty of the Seas, for the perfect blend of writing classes, critique groups, live recordings, and Caribbean vacation. This voyage sails out of Houston, and will visit Cozumel, Costa Maya, Roatan, and Belize City. The instructors will be Brandon Sanderson, Margaret Dunlap, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, and Dan Wells. Click here to find all the details and registration information for the Caribbean Cruise.

This year, as always, we are offering scholarships: two for Capitol Reef and four for the cruise. Half of the scholarships for each event will be Out of Excuses Scholarships, awarded to those in financial need, and half will be 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 shared room, and hotel expenses in the destination city for one night before the event. Because the food on each retreat 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 the Out of Excuses OR the Carl Brandon scholarship, but not to both—even if you qualify for both. Indicate your preference for Capitol Reef OR the cruise OR let us know that you would be interested in attending either ONE of those events. We will assign each winner to one of the retreats.

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 click here to fill out this Google Form and be ready to upload the related files for your scholarship application. You will need to upload 2 files:

  1. One PDF file saved as “[Name of Scholarship]-[Your Name]-essay” including the following:
    • Personal Essay, word count (between 450-700 words): 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.”
    • 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.
  2. One Writing Sample saved as “[Name of Scholarship]-[Your Name]-writing-sample”, total word count (1-3 pieces, limited to 5,000 total words): A brief example of your writing, consisting of 1-3 separate pieces and totaling no more than 5,000 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.

If you a concern or question, please contact Dawn at

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.

Because we are starting later in the year than usual, our schedule is by necessity highly accelerated. The application period for both scholarships opens TODAY, and closes at midnight PST, April 17. We will contact the winners on May 9 and announce them officially on May 10. That gives applicants one month to get their packets ready, it gives us three weeks to review them, and it gives the winners just under two months of notice before the first of the two retreats.

If you have any questions regarding the scholarship, please email Dawn at

Scholarship 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 I need famous people or industry professionals to recommend me?
A: Absolutely not. The status or prestige of the recommenders is not really a factor; they can be international bestsellers or they can be college roommates.

Q: Do you have any specific formatting requirements?
A: Other than what’s listed above, no. You can use whatever typeface or point size 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 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: But that doesn’t sound fair to the rest of us.
A: 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. We believe in you!

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

Q: The description of the scholarship says it comes with a “shared occupancy room.” What does that mean?
A: On the cruise, you’ll have a roommate; in Capitol Reef, you might share a room with four or five other people. If you know someone else on the retreat, you can let us know and we can probably put you together, but otherwise the assignments are made at random, and you will make a new best friend.

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, and of course you are always allowed to pledge more than the recommended minimum.

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 we sell out incredibly quickly, and people who wait often end up out of luck. We always try to get more rooms on the cruise, but it’s not always possible—and in Capitol Reef we have a hard cap on attendance that is enforced at the federal level (because it’s a national park). 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 submitted my application, but I’m not sure it arrived and/or something else happened and I want to be sure we’re cool. What do I do?
A: We strongly recommend submitting your application with plenty of time before the deadline to avoid technical issues and instances Murphy’s Law. A confirmation email would have been sent to the email you provided upon submitting your application form. If you still have doubts, email Dawn at She can check and tell you for sure whether your application arrived safely.

Q: I have a question not covered in this FAQ.
A: Email Dawn at 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.

WXR 2022 Writing Workshops and Retreats

Join fellow writers as Writing Excuses hosts two amazing writing workshops and retreats in 2022!

Capitol Reef, UT – June 27 to July 2

Go off the grid with WXR instructors Mary Robinette Kowal and Dan Wells, joined by Astronaut Cady Coleman, for a writing retreat focused on astronomy and space exploration at the Capitol Reef Field Station in Utah, which has a Gold rating from the International Dark Sky Association. Make the most of this, the darkest week of the month, to draw inspiration from nightly stargazing and learn from workshops focused on astronomy, space exploration, science communication, and how to portray those topics in fiction.

Click here to register for Capitol Reef!

Caribbean Cruise – September 11 to 18

Cruise with WXR core hosts Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells, plus Margaret Dunlap and DongWon Song on the Liberty of the Seas, casting off from Galveston Texas with stops in Costa Maya, Roatán, Belize, and Cozumel for the perfect combination of relaxation, learning, and writing.

Join us in seminars designed for working writers who are interested in leveling up their skill set, critique groups, unlocking sessions, reading practice, and opportunities to discuss all aspects of writing as a career with multiple career pros.

It’s a cruise ship. On the ocean. With great food, fun ship board activities, adventurous excursions – and writerly minds to keep you company.

Click here to register for Caribbean Cruise!

Have questions? Please click here to check out our FAQ.

If you still have questions, you can email the WXR Team at

We hope you’ll join us for one or both of these great events to spend writing time with fellow writers, the Writing Excuses team, and some truly wonderful guest instructors!

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