Category Archives: Announcements & News

Additional Berths for WXR 2017 in the Baltic Sea!

We have more berths for the 2017 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat, this July 28-August 5! That’s just seven-and-a-half weeks away. If you’d like to join us in the Baltic Sea for WXR 2017, registration is open again.

There is a hitch, of course. We don’t yet know how much the rooms cost. On the registration page, select “I want to come but you’re sold out!” That option is at the top of the list on the registration page.

Registering for this means that our cruise liaison will find out the price and let you know. You can then decide if you want to book the spot. Note that these berths will not cost less than the spots that have already sold out. Also, these berths are limited, and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

This process does lack the hassle-free convenience we prefer to offer, but it is the only opportunity we have for more of you to come along, and we’re happy to be able to extend it. We’d love to have you join us.

(If this is the first you’ve heard about the event, the full description is here.)

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 [email protected] 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


* .RTF


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 [email protected]

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 [email protected]


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 [email protected]

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.

Writing the Other: a Discount Code for Listeners

Our friends at Writing the Other continue to host a wide range of classes addressing the manifold facets, angles, and approaches to getting our not-the-same-as-us characters written correctly.

On February 26th, Beyond the Basic Bi: Writing Bisexual Characters will be taught by BiNet’s Faith Cheltenham from 3pm to 5pm Eastern Time. Writing Excuses listeners may use the promotional code “noexcuses” for a 25% discount, bringing the price from $110 to $82.50 (assuming Howard did this math correctly.)

Scholarship opportunities are also available.

Please follow the link above for details about the class, the instructor, the scholarships, and the technical requirements for online attendance. If you want to be notified about upcoming Writing The Other classes, be sure to subscribe to their mailing list.

WXR 2017 in the Baltic Sea

Hello, 2017! And hello to you, dear Writing Excuses listeners. We’ve already started our new year of episodes, which focuses on the nitty-gritty details of story structure and includes some exciting guest hosts, so check it out. Our other exciting announcement, of course, is the retreat. 2017 will be our fifth Writing Excuses Retreat, and the first that will take place in Europe:


Join us for a cruise in the Baltic Sea, July 28-August 5!


And registration is open now :)


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


1. We will board in Kiel, Germany, and spend a week at sea, stopping for excursions in Copenhagen, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, and Tallin. If you’re flying in, the best airport is Hamburg, from which you can take a train to Kiel which is just an hour or so north. The event actually begins the day before we board, in a Kiel hotel, where we’ll register and get to know each other.


2. 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.


3. 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.


4. 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 won’t be joining us this year, but be joined by Wes Chu, Piper Drake, Desiree Burch, John Berlyne, Aliette de Bodard, Jasper Fforde, Ken Liu, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Carsten Polzin, and more. And of course you’ll still have Mary, Dan, and Howard.


5. The classes will be taught in English, but we expect to have a lot of different languages represented, by both our students and instructors, and we will do everything we can to accommodate you.


6. Shore excursions will be scheduled through us. For each stop we’ll pick three “official” Writing Excuses excursions and announce them this Spring, so 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.


7. This cruise has been arranged to line up with WorldCon 75 in Helsinki, August 9-13. If you want to attend WorldCon we have two options for the time between events: our travel agents can arrange for you to take a ferry from Kiel to Helsinki, where you can kill a few days in an awesome city, or you can join us for a three-day tour of some cool European castles.


8. As before, we will have a number of scholarships available. This year that number is “3.” The application process will be announced on January 15.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: I have a registration question. Should I leave a comment here?
A: The best way to contact us for WXR 2017 purposes is to use the “Contact Writing Excuses” link at the bottom of the Registration page. Scroll all the way down. It’s the last link in the FAQ there. We’d have linked it directly here, but it’s an embedded thingy.

Q: Brandon’s not going to be there? Does he not love us anymore?
A: Brandon is already spending a few weeks in Europe this year on tour, and there was no way for him to do both. In future years, there might be other hosts who can’t make it. You’ll still get an amazing writing conference with a ton of amazing instructors and classes and experiences. Plus, as all of our alumni will tell you, the single biggest benefit of the cruise are the connections you make with the other attendees, and this promises to be one of the best years ever for that. And yes, Brandon loves you with all his heart.


Q: Europe is so expensive! Can’t you just do a local thing?
A: Local is a funny word on the Internet. Writing Excuses has a lot of European listeners, and for them every other event we’ve done has been expensive, and this is the cheap one. If you can’t afford to take a week off and fly to Europe, believe us: we understand. We can’t either, unless it’s for a conference we’re running. Consider this a once-in-a-lifetime getaway or an anniversary trip or something, and if it’s still out of reach, don’t worry: next year we’ll be back in the US again, with a cruise we can’t tell you about yet but we really think you’re going to love.


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


Q: You keep saying it, but will I really have time to actually write while on this cruise?
A: 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 boardgame 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.

WXR16 Attendee Reports, AKA “The Testimonial Page”

We have returned from the 2016 Writing Excuses Retreat, and it’s difficult to quickly describe how the event went beyond simply saying “better than we had any reason to expect.” If you’re considering attending a future Writing Excuses Retreat, you probably want more information than that.

Also, due diligence dictates that you get your information from somebody other than us.

To that end, this post has links to the reports from our attendees. We’ve sorted them alphabetically by surname, and aren’t filtering out anything that happens to be critical of the event. We’ll link to everything we know about, and we’ll keep this page updated as new reports show up.

Attendee Reports

Writing the Other masterclasses

Some of the most frequently asked questions that we get on Writing Excuses revolve around how to Write the Other. In order to answer that need, which takes more than 15 minutes, we’ve partnered with Tempest Bradford and Nisi Shawl (who literally wrote the book Writing the Other) to bring you a series of masterclasses on just this subject.

And not just the general “other” but also a bunch of very specific and detailed classes such as, Writing Native American Characters: How Not To Do A Rowling, Writing Deaf and Blind Characters, and Writing the Other: Comics and Graphic Novels

Plus for Writing Excuses Patreon supporters, there’s a $25 discount on every class.

You’re out of excuses, now go register…

(P.S. from Mary: I’m registered for the Writing for Trans and Non-Binary Narratives. I’ve co-taught with Tempest and Nisi and these workshops are highly, highly recommended.)

Writing Excuses made the Writer’s Digest “101 Best Websites” list

WDBestWebIconSubscribers to Writer’s Digest will find Writing Excuses mentioned in the May/June 2016 issue of Writer’s Digest. One of the features in that issue is “101 Best Websites for Writers.” We’re alongside one hundred other valuable online resources, and it’s no stretch to say that this list alone is worth the price of the issue, since it’s going to save you countless hours you’d rather spend writing.

We’re honored to be included here! Writer’s Digest pre-dates the self-publishing boom by about 90 years, and has proven itself to be pretty nimble, offering advice that applies in the current market, as well as the writerly stuff that applies pretty much anytime things get told with words.

BLADE OF THE DAGGERKNIFE: The 2015 Stabby Awards

Just this morning we learned that readers, listeners, and commenters over at r/fantasy have voted Writing Excuses as Best Related Work for the 2015 Stabby Awards

Thank you, Reddit!

The trophy is an actual stabby thing.

The 2014 Best Related Work Stabby pictured above was awarded to the WORLDBUILDERS charity
The 2014 Best Related Work Stabby pictured above was awarded to the WORLDBUILDERS charity

We’re honored  by this award, and in reviewing the nominees and the winners over at /r/fantasy/, we’re doubly honored to see the company we’re in.

Writing Excuses is something we do for the community of writers, and we’re delighted to know that people like it enough to give us (including Dan Wells) something really shiny and sharp.

Delighted, if perhaps a little concerned.