By Writing Excuses | November 17, 2014 - 6:24 pm - Posted in Business

Bookseller Sara Glassman joined us at the Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat to talk to us about her perspective on this industry, with an eye to the things that make it easy for her to put a book in a customer’s hands. We talk about back cover copy, covers, query letters, signings, and what booksellers look for on page one.

(Note: Brandon refers to a book of the week pitch that Sara made for us. We needed to run this episode out of order, so you’ll get Sara’s pitch for that book sometime next year.)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley, narrated by Susan Duerden

Writing Prompt: Have three of your friends to send you a random photograph of an object. Use each object in the first 13 lines of your story.

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By Writing Excuses | November 9, 2014 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Guest, Live Audience, Season 9

Charlie Harmon, one of the luminaries of Utah area fandom, joined us to talk about disability in narrative. She’s been going blind gradually since she was a child, and these days while she can see some colored blurs, she cannot read, or recognize faces. We talk about some of the nuances of disability that many writers fail to capture, and how we can learn to write those things more convincingly.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Fairy-Tale Detectives: The Sisters Grimm, by Michael Buckley, narrated by L. J. Ganser

Writing Prompt: Go to tvtropes.org and look up "Blind People." Read some of the many tropes (Disability Superpower, Blind Black Guy, and Blind Mistake, just to name three)  then write a blind character without using those tropes.

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By Writing Excuses | November 2, 2014 - 5:27 pm - Posted in Career, Conventions, Guest, Plot, Season 9

M. Todd Gallowglas is a writer and a storyteller who has spent years doing traditional oral storytelling at renaissance fairs. He joined us at FantasyCon/Westercon 67 before a live audience and talked to us about how this tradition has informed his writing, and how these principles can inform our writing as well. He also schools us (okay, mostly Howard) about how these principles should be informing parts of our podcast.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl

Writing Prompt: Take the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and drill down into the nitty-gritty realities of pancakes falling from the sky.

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We were thrilled to have Peter Beagle join us for an episode, recorded live at Westercon 67. We talked about the writer’s mindset, and how to get into it. Peter schooled Brandon before the episode even began, and then proceeded to school all the rest of us.

Peter is an absolute delight to listen to. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did.

 

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week:

Four Years, Five Seasons, by Peter S. Beagle, narrated by Peter S. Beagle

Writing Prompt:

Write about someone who is an aspiring something. Write the scene in which your character makes the transition from "aspiring" to "doing."

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By Writing Excuses | October 19, 2014 - 6:00 pm - Posted in Conflicts, Death, Genre, Guest, Live Audience, Pacing, Season 9, YA

Live from Westercon 67 and Fantasy Con, Mette Ivie Harrison and J.R. Johannson join us to talk about writing for the mystery genre. We begin by talking about the key differences between thrillers and mysteries, and then move into how this understanding can drive our story structures. We discuss how characters with arcs and iconic characters drive different types of stories, and how each of us go about building these kinds of things.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Ghosts of Belfast, by Stuart Neville,  narrated by Gerard Doyle

Writing Prompt: Write a mystery in which you explain where Howard was during this recording session.

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How does a convention play into your career as an author? How might you expect to be participating in programming? How, in short, do you get to be on panels?

Deirdre Saoirse Moen, who organizes fan-run literary cons and schedules programs for them, joins us to talk about programming from the convention’s point of view. Conventions want to create engaging programs, and want authors to be able to participate in that. Authors, of course, want to do things that ultimately result in selling more books. These goals are not incompatible, but there’s a trick to getting them to mesh well.

We also talk about what you should do when you find yourself on a panel — things to expect, things you can do to prepare, and some things to take care to not do.

By the way, registration is open for the 2015 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat. We talked about that mid-week, and appended that bit of audio to the end of this episode. If you’d like to discuss the event, here’s the place to do so. That’ll keep all the questions and answers in the same place!

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Saint: The Original Sinners Book 5, by Tiffany Reisz, narrated by Elizabeth Hart [CONTENT WARNING: Explicit about all the things.]

Writing Prompt: Write your bio in four lengths -- one each at 25, 50, 100, and up to 500 words.

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By Writing Excuses | October 9, 2014 - 7:00 am - Posted in Education, Site News

Registration is now open for the 2015 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat.

For the last two years the event has had a very limited size, and as a result has sold out very quickly. For 2015 we have moved to a new venue, removed the attendance limit, and increased the amount of instructor interaction—all without raising the price.

The 2015 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat will be held from September 20th through the 27th on the Independence of the Seas.

It’s a cruise ship.

[UPDATE: We have sold through our original block of rooms. The cruise has provided us with additional rooms, but the rate is higher for these. The updated rates are now reflected on the registration page, and in the numbers provided below]

The base price of $1300 covers the full week of intensive seminars, writing exercises, and free writing time, plus meals, double-occupancy lodging, and a cruise to four different Caribbean destinations. Attendees will also be invited to submit questions for some of the episodes of Writing Excuses which will be recorded while we’re at sea.

At sea. Seriously.

SEMINARS

Each seminar will include writing exercises and Q&A time with the instructor. Topics will include:

  • Outlining
  • Revision
  • Pacing
  • Suspense
  • Humor
  • Worldbuilding
  • Character creation
  • … and much more.

ADDITIONAL BREAKOUT SESSIONS

There will be a limited number of additional breakout sessions and one-on-one sessions with individual instructors.  There is no additional charge for these, but because of the size of the event they will be distributed by lottery. The first 100 attendees registering prior to January 15th, 2015, will be entered in the lottery.

These breakout sessions include:

6-member novel critique groups: Members will submit excerpts up to 5000 words for critique by the group as well as one of the podcasters. (Please note that this means you are committing to critique the stories of the other group members.)

6-member short story critique groups: Members will submit short stories up to 5000 words for critique by the group as well as one of the podcasters. (Please note that this means you are committing to critique the stories of the other group members.)

6-member outlining sessions: Each person must come prepared with a story idea, including an ending. The host will help each attendee turn that into a working outline, ready for them to begin writing.

One-on-one Q&As: This is a 15-minute one-on-one session with one of the hosts, and you decide how that time will be spent. We can critique the first five pages of a manuscript, drill down on a worldbuilding conundrum, answer specific questions, or offer general advice.

GUEST HOSTS

Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo Hopkinson. (Photo (c)2011 by David Findlay)

To give you an even bigger bang for your buck, we are inviting other authors and industry professionals to help teach classes and breakouts throughout the week. The number of additional hosts depends on the number of attendees. We’re starting with at least one, though: Nalo Hopkinson has accepted our invitation, and will be joining us as the inaugural Out of Excuses Guest Host.

Nalo is a professional writing teacher, and one of our favorite panelists to listen to at conventions—she’s personable, funny, and brilliant. She’s been nominated for the Philip K. Dick award, the Nebula award, and Aurora award, all multiple times; her short story collection “Skin Folk” won the World Fantasy award, and her novel The New Moon’s Arms won the Sunburst award. She’s a Jamaican-Canadian whose tap roots extend to Trinidad and Guyana. She is a professor of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside. She has taught numerous times at both Clarion and Clarion West. Her short story collection Falling in Love With Hominids will appear from Tachyon Books in 2015. In short, she’s very good at what she does, and very good at teaching others how to do it. She’ll be an excellent addition to the workshop, and we’re excited to have her.

CRUISE ITINERARY

  • 20th Sept: Depart Ft. Lauderdale 4:00pm
  • 21st Sept: At Sea
  • 22nd Sept: Labedee, Haiti 8:00am to 5:00pm
  • 23rd Sept: Falmouth,Jamaica 10:30am to 7:00pm
  • 24th Sept: Georgetown, Grand Cayman 8:00am to 4:00pm
  • 25th Sept: Cozumel, Mexico 10:00am to 7:00pm
  • 26th Sept: At Sea
  • 27th Sept: Arrive Ft. Lauderdale 7:00am

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS

All Out of Excuses seminar attendees must be 18 years of age or older. Children from the ages of 12 to 17 may attend if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Children aged 11 and under are welcome aboard ship, but cannot attend the Out of Excuses seminars. Child care and age-appropriate curriculum is available  through Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean® youth program.
All attendees, attendee guests, and accompanied minors must have a valid passport. Getting onto the ship? You need a passport!

FAMILY RATES

There are plenty of things to do on the cruise ship besides attend the Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat. If you’d like to bring a significant other or family member, it’s just $900 for a non-workshop stateroom berth, or $1,000 for a non-workshop balcony cabin. And if the family member is between the ages of 12 and 17, and has an interest in writing, they can pay that reduced price and still attend the seminars with you.

If you want to bring more than three family members, we’ll put you in touch with Lisa Harding, our cruise manager, who can help you with pricing and any other arrangements.

REFUND POLICY

If you need to cancel your registration for any reason, your registration fee will be refunded based on the date of your cancellation:

  • Full refund until June 1st
  • 75% refund until July 1st
  • 50% refund until August 1st
  • 25% refund until September 1st
  • No refunds after September 1st

FAQ:

Q: What does “double-occupancy” mean?
A: It means that the price is for half of a room. You’ll have a roommate. This can be a friend that you arrange to room with ahead of time, it can be a family member, or it can be another Out of Excuses attendee.

Q: Can I get a private room?

A: Yes, but it will cost more. When you register, at the bottom of the form select “Single Occupancy” from the “additional items.”
Private room prices:

  • Standard Interior Stateroom: $1300 + $600 = $1900
  • Promenade Stateroom: $1400 + $650 = $2050
  • Oceanview Stateroom: $1500 + $800 = $2300
  • Oceanview with Balcony: $1750 + $900 = $2650

Q: What level of writing expertise should I have attained prior to attending?
A: “Level of expertise” is far less important than your desire to improve. The workshop is structured to be accessible and useful for new writers with a passion for learning, and to be challenging and rewarding for seasoned professionals looking for refinement, or additional perspectives. Different classes will be designed for different levels of experience.

Q: Can young children attend?
A: Children aged 11 and younger are welcome aboard the ship, but cannot attend the Out of Excuses seminars. Royal Caribbean has an excellent youth program which includes child care. Follow this link for more details about Adventure Ocean®.

Q. Will you have a scholarship again this year?
A. Yes! We will be partnering with the Carl Brandon Society again this year. 

Q: How big is the ship?
A: The Independence of the Seas holds 3000 guests, of which we’ll be a small percentage. The Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat has its own dedicated spaces, ours alone 24 hours a day, for classes, writing time, impromptu discussions, or other activities (like, say, a Magic draft with Brandon). We’ll also have our own area of the dining room, and the podcasters will rotate tables each night to sit with different guests. While the ship is large, it will be similar to being at a convention in a very nice hotel. You’ll know your tribe, you’ll know where to find them, and you’ll have places to hide from all the scary non-writer people.

Q: How big is the event?
A: As of this writing (October 24, 2014), we have just over 100 attendees, including family members. As mentioned above, the podcasters and our guest hosts will be rotating tables at dinner, and participating in other activities in order to make ourselves accessible to each and every one of the attendees.

By Writing Excuses | October 5, 2014 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Guest, Live Audience, Season 9

Hugo Award-winner Christopher J. Garcia, publisher and editor of The Drink Tank, joins us for a discussion of fan writing, . We start with a definition of terms – fan writing technically covers everything from writing about fandom, to writing fiction that doesn’t appear any different from professional fiction. It’s tricky, because the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer has gone to professional writers for their unpaid, non-fiction work.

We talk about fanzines, where they came from, what they’re for, and how (and why) aspiring professional writers might submit to them, and about the power that fan writing has on both fan culture and on the development of the genre.

 

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Dreams of Gods and Monsters: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book 3, by Laini Taylor, narrated by Khristine Hvam

Writing Prompt: Pick your favorite book, movie, play, or whatever, and write something about it. But don't write a review or a synopsis, and don't write fan fiction. Something else.

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Paul Stevens, an editor at Tor, joined us in front of a live audience at Westercon 67 to talk about royalties. After a brief definition of the term, he explains how royalties are calculated, how they’re processed on Tor’s side, and what sorts of things authors should and should not expect.  We talk about contractual terms, advances, the differences in royalty rates between the different mediums (ebooks, audiobooks, paperback, hard cover), and much more.

We’ve had a lot of requests for an in-depth discussion of royalties. This, folks, is very definitely it.

 

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Hum and the Shiver, by Alex Bledsoe, narrated by Emily Janice Card and Stefan Rudnicki

Writing Prompt: Write the writing prompt that Dan Wells should have given us.

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By Writing Excuses | September 21, 2014 - 9:29 pm - Posted in Business, Guest, Live, Publishing

Patty Garcia, Director of Publicity for Tor & Forge books, joins us in front of a live audience at Westercon 67 to talk about what publicity activities look like for commercially published genre fiction books. In large measure, these activities center around driving discussion about the books with the most-followed reviewers, and we talk about what some of those are. We grill her about what sort of criteria we should be using for review copies, and what other activities new authors and established authors alike might consider spending time on.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addisson, narrated by Kyle McCarley

Writing Prompt: Write a short essay that touches on one of your books, and that will drive interest in your book.

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