By Writing Excuses | June 26, 2011 - 6:00 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Humor, Lifestyle, Plot, Q&A, Structure, Submitting

Microcasting! It’s our high-speed Q&A! Here are the Q’s, listen to the ‘cast for the A’s.

  • Is it still safe to go the commercial publishing route?
  • How do you find the balance when writing serious stories with silliness in them?
  • What are the alternatives to three-act structure?
  • Do you ever lose your drive, and what re-inspires you when you do?
  • How does your writing life affect your non-writing life?
  • What was the defining moment in your life where you decided to become a writer?
  • How effective are book trailers?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 1421: The Year China Discovered America, by Gavin Menzies, narrated by Simon Vance

Writing Prompt: Give us a story in which writers are using actual fantastic creatures in the process of writing fantasy — ink from unicorn horns, elf-skin parchment, etc.

Promised Liner Note Links: Dan’s 7-point Story Structure,

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By Writing Excuses | June 19, 2011 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Lifestyle

As you may or may not know, Mary Robinette Kowal is currently the Vice President (a volunteer position) of SFWA, the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. And after killing two minutes talking about acronyms and the composition and pronunciation thereof, we start into the actual topic — professional organizations, why or why not to join them, and what they offer.

We spend a lot of time talking about SFWA specifically, which is hopefully useful to anybody who might want to write genre fiction. We talk a little bit about the National Cartoonist’s Society (of which Howard is not a member), and about NASE (the National Association for the Self-Employed) to which Howard and Sandra do both belong.

Mary then gives us some considerations for joining any professional service organization — personal reasons (what can the organization do for you specifically), and societal reasons (what additional clout can your participation in the organization generate.) Dan talks to us about the Horror Writers Association, a group with the awesome “horror.org” domain.

If you’ve ever wondered what SFWA or other professional organizations have to offer, this ‘cast may be helpful.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Cryoburn, by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner. This novel has been nominated for the Best Novel Hugo Award this year.

Writing Prompt: Come up with a way for Howard to join SFWA. It must involve rappelling.

Professional Organization Links of Note: SFWANCS, and NASE, the Horror Writers Association, and Webcomics.com.

Mary’s Herculean Task: Get 952 science-fiction and fantasy authors to vote on the upcoming SFWA ballot.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
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*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | June 12, 2011 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Characters, Plot

If you have to ask yourself “what’s my motivation?” when you’re sitting down to write, this isn’t the podcast for you. We’re talking about character motivation in this cast.

Mary breaks it down into different aspects: what the character wants, and how that is expressed on the page. From there the analysis proceeds. We talk about how to do it, how others have done it, and what some of the pitfalls are.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis, narrated by Katherine Kellgren, with Connie Willis reading the introduction. These two books have been nominated for the 2011 Best Novel Hugo.

Writing Prompt: Come up with a character motivation, and then an action that character must take which runs counter to that motivation.

That Distant Hum Ten Minutes In: Somebody decided to run the vacuum upstairs. It was a busy weekend at Chez Sanderson.

Liner Notes: Mary Robinette Kowal schooled us all back in Season Three with this discussion of puppetry.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.
*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | June 5, 2011 - 5:00 pm - Posted in Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Ideas

One of our most popular guests ever, Mary Robinette Kowal, finally joins Brandon, Dan, and Howard as a full-time cast-member. And now that she’s with us, we’re going to go back and revisit the very first topic we attempted to record (in a lost episode you can only hear in the bonus material on the 1st Season CD), which is whether or not creativity can be taught.

Mary says aspects of it can be taught. Howard’s inner Zen master says nothing can be taught, but anything can be learned. And from there we dive all the way in.

And you know what? Mary totally rescues the discussion, bringing perspectives that we were missing in that first session back in 2008. Especially right at the end, where she gives us some awesome creativity exercises.

Welcome to the team, Mary Robinette Kowal. We’ve needed you for three years.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1 by George R.R. Martin, narrated by Roy Dotrice

Writing Prompt: Take one of the creativity exercises and run with it. Alternatively, use this mash-up: “The Silence of the Mexican Herbie Part 2: The Two Towers.”

Pearl of Wisdom Not To Be Taken The Wrong Way: “Stealing from children is an awesome tool.”

Liner Note Link: Here is the narration and context exercise Mary mentioned.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.
*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.