By Writing Excuses | September 22, 2013 - 6:41 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Lifestyle, Live, Middle Grade, Q&A, Season 8

This was recorded at the “Out of Excuses Retreat,” and the questions came from our attendees. Here are the questions! (You’ll have to listen for the answers.)

  • How have your opinions on self-publishing changed in the last few years?
  • What did you find difficult early in your career? How did you address this?
  • What do you now find difficult? How do you address it?
  • Do you put Easter Eggs in your work that only your friends recognize?
  • How much do questions/comments from readers influence you?

And the question we did NOT answer, but it’s a great one for speculating…

  • Where would Brandon, Dan, Mary, and Howard be, career-wise, if their paths had not crossed?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Troubletwisters, by Garth Nix and Sean Williams, narrated by Miriam Margolyes

Writing Prompt: Where would Brandon, Dan, Mary, and Howard have ended up if Writing Excuses hadn't brought them together?

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This entry was posted on Sunday, September 22nd, 2013 at 6:41 pm and is filed under Business, Career, Lifestyle, Live, Middle Grade, Q&A, Season 8. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. September 23, 2013 @ 6:07 am

    OMG. I totally thought Mary said “rumbuttmonkey”. Thanks for repeating that!!

    Posted by Kim Smith
  2. September 23, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    I am continually amazed with the insight and quality of every casting. I am truly a fan. Keep up the great work.

    Posted by Kurt Petrey
  3. September 24, 2013 @ 1:49 am

    Self publishing is a complex subject and I think you should do a podcast (or 2) on it, making sure you have a guest expert or two. There are hundreds of self published authors making a living from their writing. They may not be household names like the outliers such as Hugh Howey, but they are living the dream and that’s what it’s about.

    If you want to make a living doing what you love then take a serious look at self publishing. It has come a long, long way in a few short years. Check out the websites of DWSmith, KKRusch and David Gaughran. And the KBoards Writers Cafe can offer a lot of great advice.

    Also take a look at David Gaughran’s ‘Let’s Get Digital’ which is free in pdf format and can be found here:

    Posted by Mitch Hogan
  4. September 24, 2013 @ 2:58 am

    Oh man, after Howard said to put Dan in a ditch and Dan mentions a parallel dimension, my mind couldn’t help but combine the two. Dan is unfortunately dropped into a parallel ditchmension. “What is that?” the young main character asks, and the mentor scratches his chin idly and says “Well, the universe we live in is like a long stretch of highway. When there is interdimensional rain, it could make our world particularly slippery and so there are small depression dimensions to either side of ours. All sorts of rubbish and writers can find their way into these parallel ditchmensions if they aren’t careful.”

    Poor Dan…

    Posted by Caleb
  5. September 24, 2013 @ 9:50 am

    Funny episode. You can tell you guys had a great time doing it. The thing that Brandon mentions about the ending tag to sentences that his characters do such as Sazed saying “I think” is good. It does add some flavor to the language and gives characters more individuality. I don’t know if Brandon is himself aware but he tacks on “and things like this” at the end of sentences often enough to notice it.

    Posted by merryxmas
  6. September 24, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

    I’m not sure if that counts as a verbal tic or not, merryxmas. Yes, Brandon uses “and things like this/that” a lot on this podcast, but that’s because he has a tendency to present idea lists and is using the english equivalent of Latin’s “et cetera.”

    Of course, I’d argue that the Canadian “eh” is, at least in BC, not a verbal tic, either, since it’s almost exclusively used to invite a response (either saying “this question is not rhetorical” or just asking for some sort of acknowledgement), as opposed to the polysyllabic period.

    (A really good example of this is the Japanese voice acting in many anime, particularly Naruto’s “dattebayo,” which is actually so long that the translators needed to come up with something to extend his sentences in English as well. It also made an already annoying character into what may well be the most annoying character in any work of fiction of all time.)

    Posted by Rashkavar
  7. September 25, 2013 @ 7:00 am

    […] was listening to Writing Excuses this week. They were doing a Q&A, and the first question was relevant to my interests, as they […]

  8. September 25, 2013 @ 7:24 am

    More annoying than Lynn Minmay?

    Posted by Talmage
  9. September 25, 2013 @ 11:17 am

    Also check out Michael A Stackpole’s podcast for a lot of great information on digital publishing (a few years old now, but still among the best I think):

    Yeah, I find listening to readers a very tricky subject. On one hand, readers sometimes want something to happen just to feel more comfortable even when it’s at the expense of a better story, such as in instances when they don’t want to see a character die in a series.

    On the other hand, you are writing your book to be read, so… And if we don’t take into account what the reader wants, I think we can sometimes get wrapped up too much in our own heads and lose track of what is a good story and what we as the writer of this world would be more comfortable happening.

    Maybe a balance of the two? It’s tricky for me.

    Posted by Michael
  10. September 25, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

    Caleb’s “All sorts of rubbish and writers can find …”

    Love it, just love it

    Posted by Lita
  11. September 25, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

    Sometimes you can’t get enough of those words.

    So instead of just listening to them, read them!

    A transcript for your eyes only:

    Posted by 'nother Mike
  12. September 27, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

    So Mary was talking about early career and writing stories reliably well. Aside from the overall hard work of re-learning to write, was there an epiphany that helped her breakthrough?

    Posted by Gary
  13. September 28, 2013 @ 10:39 am

    Mary answered my question over on her website:

    The MICE quotient, which we talk about in a couple of episodes, really helped me understand that structure and plot were not the same things as events.

    Posted by Gary
  14. September 30, 2013 @ 7:01 am

    […] Here’s the most recent episode of Writing Excuses via Mary Robinette Kowal. It was recorded at the “Out of Excuses Retreat,” and the questions […]

  15. October 26, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

    Glad to see the growing evolution of thoughts on self-publishing. I agree with Brandon that there are a lot of solid self-published authors that aren’t getting the press and earn well…but I don’t think those are only (or mainly) people writing large numbers of short works. Series is certainly a key commonality – but some of the biggest names only have one series with a few titles. I think the “secret” is the same that exists in traditional – which is write a good book, get it in front of a core group who will talk about it, rinse and repeat.

    Posted by Michael J Sullivan